It is the first time I have attended the SCONUL conference and it proved to be an interesting and informative day.
The conference was entitled 'The Visible Library: Demonstrating our Value' and the aim, according to the conference programme, was to address the need 'to define and articulate the value of the library to both internal and external stakeholders'. The outputs from the discussions on the day will form a basis for a SCONUL advocacy toolkit.
The introduction and welcome was given by Liz Jolly, Chair of SCONUL and Director, Library & Information Services at Teesside University.
The keynote was given by Graham Henderson, Vice Chancellor of Teesside University
He explained that the library needs to be a hub of the university and a place for all students to get work done. It should be a triage point for all.
2. Copyright - equivalence for partner locations
3. Access to research
4. Balancing the cost of resources to support teaching and research without burden on teaching funding
5. Embracing social media as an asset not threat
6. Access to sufficient finance and resources to provide staff, space and resources (fewer books on shelves does not mean less resource but more)
There is a need to get more people to understand the changing role of academic librarians - therefore express in employability , research impact, retention. Update the perceptions about libraries - they are about innovation in L&T and not just content. He used the phrase 'responsive repositioning'.
It is important to nurture the fact that the library is more than just 'another support department' -it has a critical role in academic processes. I think this is an important point to note and a key message that needs to be communicated in a positive way.
The next session was crowd sourcing narratives - this was discussions in groups about the perceptions of Finance Directors, VCs, Academics of Librarians / Libraries.
I was in the Finance Directors group.
The positive perceptions included:
Each of the tables in the group came up with much the same answers which is reassuring in one way but in another it means that there are common problems that haven't been solved (if it is possible to do so?).
It was agreed that the perception is that libraries are good for engaging on open access. Also an agreement that there is a need to put forward a business case in the right way, to align it to institutional strategies (not too parochial and don't be too precious about library). Finance Directors want resilience and financial robustness and a good business case.
This was a recurring theme throughout the day - the need to put forward the case for libraries in a language that can be understood by those you are communicating with, use their language and present the case in the terms that others understand and can align with their priorities.
The other points I picked up from this feedback and reflections session (and these are from my notes so not comprehensive)
Libraries have a good understanding of student behaviour
She explained that they had had feedback from staff that they wanted better communication so they planned and facilitated a strategic conversation between the library and the University leadership. They prepared by producing a poster presentation to show what their team offered to university and it had to be data rich. They aimed to show their value, their corporate value as a service and to show how they deliver innovation in practice. They produced infographic style posters with performance data including research support, graduate employability, academic support, learning resources, personal development and recruitment and conversion.
The next presentation was given byAndy Priestner, Information and Library Services Manager, Judge Business School, Cambridge.
He talked about using 'Ethnography for Impact: new ways of exploring user experience in libraries'.
2. Show me round. Students guide us around the space. This showed that some users are failing to access key services. Workspaces - more desks and desk spaces. 2 tribes - upstairs and downstairs with different needs. Kiosk terminals - not popular
3. Cognitive mapping
The quick wins they have introduced