UoL Library Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘librarianship’

Introduction to Management in LIS and IT

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 December, 2009

Last week I spent three days on a Leadership Foundation for HE course on management, specifically aimed at Library and IT people working as middle management for the first time.  I’ve always enjoyed management training (it formed a rich part of both my previous degrees), and welcomed the opportunity to go on this.  I must say especial thanks to the Staff Development Office for funding my attendance too.

One thing I’ll be up-front about were the rules of the room – anything we discussed in-depth with real world implications had to stay in the room.  It made for a very free and frank exchange of experiences, but it’s a bit of a shame as I would love to tell people more about them.  But those where the rules, and far be it from me to breach them.

What I really learned was that a lot of people in positions similar to mine face a lot of the same challenges – and with the delegates taken entirely from HE we had a lot in common to start with, even based as we were around the UK.  Quite a bit of what we covered wasn’t new to me, although much of it was well worth going through again.  Some aspects and topics were on the other hand quite new – Edward de Bono’s colour of hats for thinking/decision making is one that really resonated with me.

The three days started with the personal, taking stock of ourselves and our skills using a Myers/Briggs test – which for most of us revealed what we already knew.  However, being aware of it allowed us to shift roles within the group exercises to make maximum advantage of our proclivities and talents.  From team roles and effective communication we shifted to people management and motivation on the second day.  Then leading, delegation along with problem solving.  The last day looked at managing yourself and real world issues and examples.

Throughout this was a very hands on, kinesthetic course with exercises, management games, discussions and tasks.  Very much my prefered way of working, although I’m still quite tired out by it all some days later.  it was just that full on an experience.  Certainly the 24 people on the course bonded quickly in the face of this shared adversity, and discussions over drinks and food continued long into the night.

Our team's effort - in 15 minutesOf especial worth of mentioning were the two extensive business management exercises.  The first looked at setting up a Dot.com buisiness from concept to pitch.  As the team (and possibly the room’s) biggest extrovert communicator I can honestly say my role as Executive Head of marketing was a plum role; indeed one of the other teams started bidding for my services.  The other exercise saw me heading a team, with very limited resources, in construction of a ship – to be judged against predefined characteristics.  While we didn’t win, our team worked effectively and efficiently – and at least we produced by far the best looking boat.

There may be an underlying metaphor there – but I’ll skip on.

If there was a low point for me it would be the talk from the real head of service.  Contrasted with the interactivity and engagement of the rest of the course it felt dry, and I can;t say I took away anything of especial value from it.  Not helped by the fellow legging it as soon as he finished talking, a debate and discussion about translating theory to practice at senior level would have been a wonderful capstone.

But I have come back with a lot to think about, and the feeling that I’m not alone in the daily challenges I face (from the minor to the not quite so).  I’d love to take some of the ideas further, and will certainly be following up some of the suggested reading to broaden my understanding of the concepts and techniques covered.

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Posted in Staff training, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Of making many books there is no end

Posted by knockels on 2 September, 2008

I have been looking at a piece in Ariadne on information overload and how to cope with it.  This is timely – I have been having the distinct feeling that I was not managing my time well, and that one meeting in particular seemed to be mostly repetition of a list of Keith’s uncompleted action points from the last meeting.

Sarah Houghton-Jan begins by pointing out that information overload is not a new phenomenon, finding a quote from 1685.   (I may have an older one, used above as a title.  I shall tell you at the end where it is from).  She looks at the effects of information overload (lost working hours, lost profits, and an effect on your IQ apparently greater than that caused by smoking marijuana), and then at the role of information professionals in dealing with this overload.   We, she points out, are trained to evaluate and process information.   Perhaps the challenge is to help our academic colleagues with their information overload while not increasing our own?

There then follows a list of 10 techniques.  The article is open access, so you can read the full details, if you are not too overloaded (!), but they include using RSS to handle the overload, not add to it; ways to deal with “interruptive technology” (including Twitter); and ways to avoid “doing email”.  I have recently switched all my listserv lists to digest, so I only have to read one message for each, which is one thing she mentions.   There are some interesting things to try, and some valid points about separation of work and home (he says, having spent some time each day while on leave checking email!).

The Ariadne article is here.   My title is from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verse 12.  That verse ends “and much study wearies the body”.   Off to put the kettle on.

Posted in Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Shirky & Librarianship

Posted by selinalock on 19 August, 2008

Close-up Dodo!So, I’ve just finished reading Here Comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky. (see amazon & UoL library) and I’ll be doing several posts about ideas discussed in the book.

Shirky argues that a scarcity of resources creates a profession, for example, librarianship developed as a profession due to there being few libraries and many users.

With regards to newspapers he also argues that they don’t yet realise that they’ve become obselete as “the web didn’t introduce a new competitor into the old ecosystem…the web created a new ecosystem”. The same argument can be applied to librarianship, as the web has totally transformed the way people get information. It is no longer a scare resource that requires professionals to organise it in order for people to access it.

Not a new concept to librarians, as we’ve been arguing over whether our profession is dying for at least the last decade! However, I find it interesting that one of the main thrusts of Here Comes Everybody is the way that internet applications are completely changing the information and communication culture, which is obviously going to impact on how and what our jobs are.

“The more an institution or industry relies on information as it’s core product, the greater and more complete the change will be.”

I think in the forseeable future there will still be a place for traditional librarian skills, as we will still need people to organise and care for our print collections…but what about those of us whoose users are rapidly moving away from print and library resources?

Shirky argues that in the past the price of print publishing meant there was always a systems of filter then publish, with the net the system has become publish then filter. Where do librarians fit into the new system? Have we become obselete without noticing?

Posted in Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

I’ll take a satnav any day

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 August, 2008

I’ve been a “proper” librarian for a change today, and that means I’ve been out of the office and moving things around on shelves.  One of the many tasks I’ve had on the to-do list for a bit was updating our guidance for geological surveys in the library.  Having reformatted the page, I thought I’d best wander to the physical stock and check it all tallied.

It did…for the most part.  However, there were a few nasty little errors and a handful of omissions to correct.  There was also a shelf and a half of books out of sequence for…well I’m guessing a while looking at the dust on them.  I decided that it would be more effective to shift them myself – given that by the time I’d worked out whom to ask to sought this out and waited for them to fit it into their work-plans it could be term time!

Thus when I link to the geosurvey help page from Rooms2, I’m going to quite content in the knowledge that it’s an accurate guide!

[Edit: And the page is live…]

Posted in Collection management, Subject Support | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »