Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shaping the Service

I have now been in my new post for 6 months and maybe its time for a little reflection on where the Enquiry Support Team has got to in that relatively short time since we came into existance on October 1st 2009. 

We have worked on lots of new developments, and over Easter are having a series of meetings to try to formalise how the service runs, finalise procedural documentation, look at what kind of training should be provided for Enquiry Support staff and review some of the work we have done, in order to start looking forward to future plans and developments. Its been a very busy few months and our activities have included:
  • Provision of a roving service to support users at the point of need and make appropriate referrals to specialist staff
  • Trial of using a smartphone to support roving services
  • Introduction of an Information Point in the main foyer
  • Provision of enquiry email services, mostly based around effective referrals, but also satisfying basic or unusual enquiries that are not suitable to be directly referred
  • Management of the library Facebook and Twitter accounts (including fielding enquiries by these routes)
  • Management of the library You-Say-We-Say feedback service
  • Set up of a searchable newsfeed on the staff intranet and regular email updates relating to enquiries information to support all staff, but in particular to assist evening and weekend staff when there are no specialists in the building
  • Set up of a searchable staff-look-up database to assist all staff in making appropriate referrals
  • Investigations into a range of remote enquiry service options
  • Creation of a new set of contact details pages complete with a new web form for enquiries
  • Delivery of hands-on-tour-style inductions to freshers in term 1(named "Check It Out" sessions)
  • Provision of induction sessions for schools groups as part of our work in widening participation
  • Delivered some basic staff training sessions to other teams including navigating the microforms collections, using smartboards and making out of hours referrals
  • Creating userguides for library equipment such as smartboards and plasma screens
  • Set up of systems to collect and collate management information for the services we provide
It's been pretty busy!

Next week we have a series of team meetings coming up to review a lot of the things we have done so far and start to plan for next academic year. Also we hope to start formalising our service models and finalising our procedures so that if and when new members of staff start we will have something more concrete for them to work from. 

The team this year has been made up of 1 full time and one part time Library Advisor who support the whole range of the team's work, 2 temps who rove for us, and a number of students (currently 4) who also work as rovers front of house. (And me, of course!)

The Library Advisors have both been fantastically flexible and adaptable while the service has been in it's set-up phase. When they came into post the team was brand spanking new and we had nothing in place and were making a lot of it up as we went along. They have both been extremely supportive while the service has started to take shape and are full of ideas and energy to help bring it all together in a sensible way. And the temps and student helpers have provided a great front of house service allowing the Library Advisors to take time during their days to provide back of house services and complete set up and development work.They have made it possible for the Library Advisors to get so much done in such a short space of time.

Input from other teams has also been invaluable. We work very closely with Customer Support staff, especially in front of house activities and they have been great in offering advice and getting involved in shaping how our team can best operate. Academic Support staff have provided training for us and helped us with service provision for international college students. Collections Management have worked with us on training we have delivered, a joint video project and in support international college students. Digital Access and Data Services staff have also helped us to train our team and given advice on how we can best set up our systems. The list is endless - I cant possibly mention everyone who has supported us over the last 6 months. 

Following the Easter meetings that coming up next week I hope to write a series of blog posts on various topics we will be looking at, such as our smartphone trial, looking at SMS services, staff training for Enquiry Support staff and more. 

If you are involved in running a centralised enquiry service and would like to open discussions on any of these issues I would be very interested to hear from you - now is a great time for me to be looking outwards and considering ideas from elsewhere as we work to bring a formal structure to our team services. 

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