Archive | June, 2011

How will I measure that people have accepted our new discovery layer?

26 Jun

I’ve been so long stuck in the review and then implementation planning of our new discovery layer, that I have been hard pressed to visualise a time when it is live and i have to measure outcomes. Other than the outcome where the whole project team has a quiet weekend and loads of vodka of course.

However the go live possibity now beckons, and my change and consultation project officer wants a meeting on what from her is some long words about user acecptance, and to me means – So how will I know that the product has been accepted, let alone if people are happy with it?

Today’s reading has been therefore:

“User Satisfaction with electronic reference: a systematic review” by Elaine M LLasda Bergman and Irina I Holdern and published in Reference Services Rewview, 2010, v38(3) pp 493-509

It has given me some insights into how user satsifaction has been measured for electronic library services. I had some great starting advice on this from Caroline Gauld when we reviewed discovery layers. Now that she has flown onto to a higher role in Brisbane, I’m interested in what user testing we could do post our go live [any day now. really. I think.]

So Im off to do some more consideration on data collection, target audience and clarity of the questions! The concept of “willingness to return” is especially of interest if in the future we want to consider a single portal, rather than multiple entry points.

Reporting to your customers

25 Jun

Today I read a short article by Kirsty Thomson about how “the lack of annual reports make it difficult to analyze library strategic cerdibility” in Evidence Based  Library and Information Practice Vol 6(2), 2011, pp 34-35

It’s reminded me I am behind on service metric reporting for my section this quarter, and that there are real reasons why I should be more informative (but not more wordy)  in reporting what my section does for our clients through our annual report.

However it’s not the only way for communicating your value to your customers.

Recently we’ve had a staff member volunteer to “personalise” our Twitter stream. Go check it out, it’s really going well. One of the tricks he is using is trawling the Twitteverse for mentions of the library and responding. It’s getting some fun commentary. Of course another good example is UTS who have been doing social media with fun attitude for ages now.

Our last library survey actually had published results [finally] on what our gaps had been identified as, and what we were doing to meet them.

What methods are you using to respond to customer feedback, or push news of your services?         

My love affair with evidence based decision making

24 Jun

Years ago I had a supervisor who talked often and seriously to me about making non-emotional decisions and not necessarily needing to implement them straight away “to get into the action”. He finds it amusing now I’m sure when I talk about my love of the idea of evidence based decision making.

However even then I had a need to make decisions based on a known aim and considered output.

In other words I only wanted to implement changes that resulted from a clearly identified goal; “let’s review the fines policy” annoys me. Not to say it doesn’t have it’s place in strategic planning discussions …. just not at the action level. “Let’s review the fines policy to reduce student fines”, or “Lets review the fines policy to create more self service options” is more what I like.

And I wanted the solutions we trialled to be an effective match with their intended audience. Of course you can’t always get it right, but instead of just brainstorming ideas and trialling them; having some customer feedback to identify solutions, or some user assessment feedback, some statistics or other data, and using that for your recommended solutions.

So now I am going to try and fit in some time learning more about the facts of evidence based decision making.

I’m starting with reading the journal “Evidence Based Library and Information Practice“. Send me your suggestions for more.

Catching up by musing on effective interviewing skills

23 Jun

Sorry everyone, I’ve broken my home internet again, and I can’t do posts on my iphone so it’s been a bit sporadic for a girl who claims she is taking part in #blogjune Will play some more catchup today.

Lately I have been preparing for interviews for a new position here, and it’s reminded me that there are some aspects of interviewing you learn only after you have run an interview yourself.

For example, for some jobs, you want really well thought out answers in the interview process. In those situations it’s like the difference in assessment between an essay and an exam. It actually helps if the applicant could prepare answers to the questions in advance, although then of course there is the worry that the answers are not their own.

So I’ve tried a few different strategies

– 1) ask the applicant to prepare a short 5 min presentation on a case study or aspect of the role.
This is popular and I have had to give a few myself in interview situations. It allows you to have some scripted thoughts about what you could bring to the role, and it’s not long enough of the interview to be a problem if you take the wrong tangent.

2) Actually advise applicants of the questions before they arrive.

Best interviews I ever ran were like this. Job was for a 2nd level library assistant, and I told each applicant when I rang them to set up interview times, that there would be 6 questions, and the area for each question eg Managing difficult customers, time management, supervision etc

I often find that lending services staff are very practical, hands on people. Thinking about “how” they do something like prioritising is hard enough, without the added stress of an interview situation. Often they end up saying “I just do that and then I do the next thing” without having the time to think through the aspects they think important when establishing the urgency of a job.

So in this interview all the applicants had thought about what these topics meant to them. They gave examples that they had prepared without trying to make it “fit” into a unknown stated scenario.

3) Asking questions based almost directly on the selection criteria in the job application, and in that order. Then interviewees can extrapolate on the examples they wrote to you in their application, without panicking so much about remembering examples and then trying to make them “fit” appropriately to questions.

4) based on 3 really – I advise applicants when I book them an interview time that they should feel free to bring notes to the interview, and that they can pause and consult them at any period.

It works in well in the first section of the interview, when you introduce the panel and explain the interview process. I say that the panel are more interested in getting a relevant answer than a confident answer, so that if at any point an applicant wants to have a question repeated or rephrased, just to ask that member of the panel.  And to that can be added the statement that if the applicant wants to take time to consult their notes, this is appropriate.

So what strategies have you all used to improve the interviewing process?

Calming and calmer

22 Jun

Well I was plunged back into work with a vengenece. Quite a few projects nearing completion at the moment so pressure mounting.

Pleased to say that the time away has helped me approach rising issues more clearly. Also  I have  a real feeling of being more centered, that is feeling stable within myself.

It’s new afresh to me everytime I realise I have got stressed; both the symptoms and the results. I’m pretty hyperactive normally so it can also take others awhile to notice the difference between my normal “dramatic” expressions, and actual stress.

image of frogs in resin

Image from Flickr under creative commons from burke_wicker

Especially when the stress has built up gradually, in that “frog in hot water” theory; where if  the hot water is warmed up gradually the frog doesn’t realise until it’s too late.

I think awareness of capacity may be something I need to try and self improve in terms of my work life. I add on more and more, and then realise too late that I have put off breaks and space for myself. This results in not producing what you would like from yourself, and then a loop of resentment/fear of underperformance.

I’m feeling pretty centred again now though. Realised that my sense of falling behind, or doubting my own instincts, was a symptom of stress or overtiredness, and not that I am not able to cope.

Hopefully I can learn to support my own sense of calm more in the future 🙂

Post Daylesford

21 Jun

One of the best things about pet dogs is their genuine enthusiasm at seeing you again after a break.

dog face closeup

My friend was housesitting and dogsitting and Monty was spoilt rotten. Sure he got way more food and walking than from me. Still the excitement of my return was heartwarming 🙂

Have started my 30 mins/day relaxing idea with walking Monty down to a nearby lovely walk along a  drain/stream that lines up alongside the highway CitiLink. Sounds awful but is awash with bush plants and really quite scenic.

image of waterfall

Still Daylesford :-)

20 Jun

Had a bit of a revelation whilst I was away.

Turns out I am not very good at relaxing in my own house. I mean I love being there, but I keep feeling like I should be doing things off my To Do list. Now some of the things on that list I really like doing, but I could be pacing myself a little more perhaps. Feeling it is “ok” to just sit.

One of the best things about actually getting away for a break, is that I really didn’t feel guilty about sitting around. Didn’t even need to be cleaning as it wasn’t my house 🙂

So am going to try and have 30 mins of relaxing each day now. And by relaxing I mean not working on a list of stuff I think I “should” be doing. Just doing whatever makes me feel happy at the time.


19 Jun

My friends and I certainly enjoyed relaxing and recharging in our house at Daylesford.

However we did also get out. I can recommend the massages at Endota Dayspa (just be warned; apparently there is a sign on the door that asks you to be quiet as you go in, but my friend and I missed that and walked in chatting loudly. Never been so effectively shooshed and I’m a librarian :-))

hand massage

Hand massage was especially great. Had to ask the masseuse afterwards how it was done. They seemed surprised that that was the most memorable part of a 1 hour massage 😉 I’ll test it out on you all at our next conference perhaps …

Also headed up to dinner at the Mercato restaurant. Patient staff, fabulous food, great wine and good acoustics to manage all our chatting.


18 Jun

Well Daylesford was lovely. Fantastic. Much needed break.

View from window in house

Having no internet access didn’t even stress me 🙂

Here’s the view from the breakfast nook window in the house we rented. Blissful

Marvellous Melbourne post 2 – Daylesford

17 Jun

So I have a long weekend this weekend. Yay. I’m off to Daylesford with some friends from Uni. We go once a year, hire a house, take some wine and just thoroughly unwind.

This year we are staying at Beecroft House, and I can highly recommend the Daylesford Cottage Directory if anyone else wants to organise a weekend there. They are highly tolerant of continuous phone calls, changes of mind and request for more information about number of beds etc 🙂

Anyway Daylesford is another feature of Marvellous Melbourne really. Cause it’s all about the many places you can go to for your weekends whilst based here …

I’m all booked in for massage packages as Daylesford has long been spa central for Victoria, although there is now another option down on the Mornington Peninsula apparently. Growing up in Ballarat I’ve been visiting the mineral springs in Daylesford since I was a child, and screwing up my face at the taste that long too! My Dad swears by it though …

However there is no doubt that it’s been seriously upgraded over the years. The old mineral springs area is still there, with plenty of picnic space for visitors; but the old shed like arrangement for the spa in Hepburn Springs is now a major complex. Shopping in the main street is seriously upmarket and restaurants abound.

There are still 2 serious second hand bookshops going strong though – so I will no doubt be indulging in some retail therapy myself over the weekend. One is down on the Lake and offers hours of browsing by subject, the other on the main street a little more modern and still as fun for serendipitous finds.

So as I’m on crappy Optus I doubt you’ll get a post from me this weekend – but I’ll be sure to put up some photos soon next week so you can all be inspired to get away yourselves soon to somewhere relaxing 🙂