28th February – Teaching Success!


Hello blog-world! Here I am again. I thought I’d try and get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) fairly swiftly after the second Engineering MSc teaching session I did with Kirsty this week, as it went really well.

We had already decided to try to get the students to do some group work, so they can get to know each other more as well as bounce ideas off each other. The first week was mostly Kirsty talking and then we were helping them one-to-one, so we thought if we mixed it up a bit it wouldn’t feel too much like they were being lectured. We also decided to try using a Padlet wall during the student discussion and feedback to bring together their ideas, as they happened, in a place where they can see the information easily, rather than referring them to pre-prepared resources or presentations that don’t accurately reflect their questions and responses (the main point of our sessions, of course, being finding out what the students want to know, as well as telling them what they should know – or at least trying to strike a balance between the two).

We designed a little activity where we gave them samples of different resources – including the standard books and journals, but also websites, newspapers, market research reports, patents and standards. This was a good idea because while most of these are available online, it’s often just text on a screen – it’s good to hold the source and see what it actually looks like, how it’s set out and where all the different sections are.

We had a question sheet with some prompts of ‘Things to think about’ – the basic question being ‘Why would you trust this source?’, but framing it with other questions: for example, who establishes a new British Standard? Who writes market research? Who are the intended audience? Where and what is the evidence for their claim? We also gave them some answer sheets to jot down ideas in their groups. It went really well I think – they were really open to discussion and thankfully were actually discussing the sources!

We brought it all together after about half an hour and Kirsty led the group discussion, and asked them to talk her through each source: what they knew about it, what they would look for and why. It was really informative actually, I myself learnt a lot – did you know members of the public can have a say in British engineering Standards? Or that market research includes data on all the major players in a certain field (say, mobile phone manufacturers), their products and market performance? Well, you probably did know that, but as I’ve spent my degrees buried in musty tomes, I didn’t!

Anyway, the students really engaged and were keen to give their opinion and ask questions. Kirsty also decided to give out prizes for the most devastatingly analytical answers, which went down really well – it would seem that introducing an element of friendly competition got the best out of that particular group! While the discussion was going on, I started putting together the Padlet page as we went along. It’s not the most detailed of documents, and there were a couple of things I missed while furiously typing and trying to listen at the same time (such as ‘Google is powered by money, not quality research!’ or similar), but here is a quick screenshot:


Kirsty said she noticed they were all watching the Padlet during the discussion, pointing out things to add to it, noting down the address and, perhaps most importantly, taking photos of it on their phone to keep, which seems to be the norm now (I still use pen and paper!). Kirsty said it was the first time she’d seen it work as it should – largely, I think, because the room we were in had multiple screens showing the display on the computer I was using, which meant everyone could actually see what I was writing. I think using a Padlet wall on one large projector screen at the end of one of the bigger study rooms elsewhere in the building wouldn’t have worked as well because the students wouldn’t have been able to see. This is related, too, to the students being able to take their time reading text rather than frantically trying to keep up with someone while making their own notes. Either way, it worked really well!

We – or rather, Kirsty – ended with a quick demonstration of how to get to market research databases, standards and patents through the library catalogue, and then everyone dashed away! But we had a quick brew and de-brief and we both thought the session went well: the students were much more relaxed and chatty while remaining focused this week, and hopefully this will continue.

Next week, I might be talking through some of the referencing Powerpoint, as I’ve been largely passive on the ‘leading the session’ front. I feel more comfortable with this after the session this week, mainly because the students seemed that way too. So I will update on the next one after the event. I’m attending the ARLG Yorkshire & Humberside Teachmeet at Sheffield Hallam on Monday, so will hopefully be sharing some of what we’ve been up to there, and maybe getting some tips on how to relax while delivering things to a group of about thirty-five people… All in all, much to look forward to!


20th January – Part II (‘The Other Big Thing at Work’)


Welcome to Part II (this makes me think of Hot Shots Part Deux)! I said I’d talk about the customer journey work we’ve started here at Bradford, which is quite exciting, and will stand the university in very good stead.

Customer journey mapping is:

…the process of tracking and describing all the experiences that customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to their experiences. Used well, it can reveal opportunities for improvement and innovation in that experience, acting as a strategic tool to ensure every interaction with the customer is as positive as it can be.


What you do is (physically) map a journey that a customer undertakes when, say, borrowing a laptop for the first time, or trying to find a hard copy of a journal. You need to include all the stages of that journey, and think about how they felt while undertaking it (frustrated, pleased, confused, and so on), in order to recognise points where processes can hopefully become more streamlined and easy-to-use for customers (is there enough signage? Are staff or guidance easily accessible?).

I finally circulated the literature review that I did with regards to customer segmentation (that is, I was looking at how other institutions split up their users into groups). As I concluded, ‘most of the literature reviewed mentioned customer journeys as a very effective way for libraries to measure how well their services accommodate the needs of their users, but none specifically mention how they split up their user base. That being said, the general consensus about how libraries might split up their users seems to be along the lines of where they are in their academic studies, how they are undertaking those (full-time, part-time or modular), and whether they are based at or near the university itself.’

The lit review, I must admit, was not a lit review in the classic sense of the word, as I’ve never done one and neglected to get a book out from the library telling me how to do one (oh, the irony!). So I spent most of that weekend tearing my hair out in front of my laptop, trying to collate all the disparate references I’d collected into something vaguely readable. Nevertheless, apparently my effort was helpful (for Alison, anyway)! We had had a meeting where we all brainstormed all the types of users we have here at Bradford (of which there are lots!) and then Ellie, one of the subject librarians, put together a list which we felt more or less covered most, if not all, the bases. My review supported the kinds of segments that we’d identified in the meeting.

The next stage was a staff training session involving as many of us as possible – both academic librarians and Customer Services staff. Ellie introduced what customer journey mapping is, why we’re doing it, and then invited us to split into groups and have a go at mapping our own journey so we could try out the process for ourselves. My group did ‘Printing work from a PC’. Relatively straightforward, one might think, but mapping the journey proved how many things can go wrong! You’ve got to find a PC, log on, format the work, send it to print [one-sided and double-spaced], find a printer, log on, make sure you have enough credit, then print. All the while there are break points – these are points where things could go either way. You might not know your PIN number to log on to the printer, or once you’ve done that you might not have enough credit, or the printer might have run out of paper… the list goes on! We decided not to include to many break points for the first go as we only had one side of A3 and about half an hour in which to complete our journey. Here’s what we managed to get down on paper (complete with smiley faces):


Isn’t it pretty? Haha!

The best thing about this training session, I think, was the mix of departments that we had. It’s not often that you have a lot of Customer Services staff working with a lot of the academic librarians, and it was a good chance for us to communicate and to share the different kinds of questions we get asked (although there is a lot of crossover), and the different experiences of everybody.  It also helps us to find out more about what everybody else does within the library! And, although I hate to use the phrase, it was a good ‘team-building exercise’, haha!

I’ve arranged a meeting with a lady at Leeds Met to have a chat about their experiences of doing customer journeys, which will be nice! Hopefully I can pick up some pointers and some good advice as well as get to meet someone else in the profession, which is always nice. It’ll be strange being back there after two and a half years (I did my undergraduate degree there) as a Trainee!

There is quite a bit of library-themed stuff going on outside work too. I’m going to the Academic and Research Libraries Teachmeet at Sheffield Hallam on March 3rd. The Teachmeet is a chance for librarians to meet up, share successes and to support each other, which sounds wonderful! By then I will have been teaching information skills with Kirsty, so [in theory] will have lots to talk about! It’s preceded by the ARLG Yorkshire and Humber Committee AGM, too, which will be interesting although I’ll probably be quite quiet for that one! Best of all, apparently there’s free sandwiches – I’m there.

I’ve also organised to swap visits between myself and Melissa, the Graduate Trainee for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust next month. I’m looking forward to meeting her as we’ve exchanged many emails trying to sort something out, and her experience will be different from mine! So it’ll be nice to see a different aspect of the profession, and of course to meet another Trainee! As well as this, I’ve managed to arrange a visit to the Special Collections at the University of Leeds, somewhere I stupidly never set foot during my time there (I did American Literature, that’s my pathetic excuse…). I’m also really excited for that! Let me loose in Special Collections, that’s the way to my heart!

Last but not least, tonight is the first Library Pizza Club meeting (Leeds cohort!). I am very excited! Pizza and sharing library thoughts is the best way to end a Monday! 🙂