Taming the communication beast: Using LibGuides for intra-library communication


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Presented at the Library Technology Conference 2011, St. Paul, MN.

Program Description: Black box. The back room. Behind closed doors. Such is the life of a Technical Services department. The literal and figurative disconnect between TS and the rest of the library can cause confusion and misinformation among library staff which, in turn, decreases the quality of service the library provides to its patrons. How can we use technology to overcome this disconnect? Many librarians have been successful using LibGuides as a tool to disseminate information from librarians to students and researchers. At Miami University, the TS department decided to experiment by creating a LibGuide to exchange information between TS and other library staff. By incorporating the department s WordPress blog, Google forms and spreadsheets, and RSS feeds into the LibGuide, we have created a place for dynamic interchange of essential information among library staff. The TS department uses the LibGuide to distribute information about our departmental policies and
procedures, as well as e-resource issues and statistics. All library staff can access this information as well as interact with TS staff by using the LibGuide to submit OPAC error reports, e-resource access problems, and report requests. This presentation will explore the planning, building, and implementation of the LibGuide and its evolution since its launch. There will be discussion on the pros and cons of the approaches tried, and on the considerations a department must take into account before building an online presence for intra-library communications.

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  • Context: TS Department loss of staff, reorganization, redistribution of duties Confused library staff as to who to contact. Also, ER communication was all over the place (5 emails of the same outage) Clearly needed stable line of communication between us and lib staff (EMAIL DOESN’T COUNT)
  • Before we ran off to create said communication tool, there were some questions we have to ask during the planning process.
  • Audience Who is our audience? “ Front lines” staff Communication Previously mass emails Listserv problems Information overload Can’t check email all the time Problem tracking
  • Technical services does have a departmental intranet. It would be inappropriate, however, to just open the intranet to the rest of the library. The information on the intranet will not help the front line staff in their day to day operations. We had to make sure that we had the following: Content that is vital for front line staff to have so they can do their jobs Up to date content (content management plan) Not too much information to cause information overload (like we saw with emails)
  • Software- What platform to run (piggyback on existing lib site, local v. remote host, blogs, wikis, cms, oh my!)  Do you have the resources to run the site?  Does your staff have the technical skills to keep up the site?
  • Since our library’s website and catalog both run on Drupal, it seemed to make sense to try to build a beta/proof of concept version of the “Front Page” using Drupal. Unfortunately, I did not save a screenshot of the Drupal version. I was using Views extensively in an effort to make the home page into a dashboard, where people can see the most important, up-to-date information on the front page. It became apparent very quickly that the long term maintenance that this version would require would be high, and that there was the question about the staff’s ability to maintain the Drupal version. Meanwhile, Public Services recently bought LibGuides and migrated their research guides to the new platform. A couple of librarians who were aware of our efforts of creating a communication tool suggested that we look into LG. After some backroom deals, our department got an account, and I started building a second beta version of the “Front Page” using LG. A couple days later, I ended up with an almost complete web site. Staff in the department were also impressed with the layout and functionality of LG, so we ended up using LG as our platform.
  • … . And here you go. Home page for our TS front page. ER News/Trials/TS News are being pulled from remote-hosted Wordpress site. Posts are assigned categories, and then pull the RSS feeds for those categories into LG.
  • More feeds on home page. The planet toc feed is our electronic table of contents service for library journals that we used to route physically within the library. Most of the journals are available online FT without embargo. We created RSS Journal Alerts for those journals available through EBSCO’s LISTA as well as grabbed RSS feed from publisher websites and fed them into our locally hosted installation of planetplanet to create a metafeed.
  • Organized by topic, not by person. Topics from common questions we receive. Primary/Secondary contacts – make sure that all bases are covered.
  • Google docs powered form. Spreadsheets allow you to create forms, which google gives you the HTML code to cut and paste. Once the person fills out the form…
  • … this is the output. Not only streamlines and standardizes reporting process, but also provides documentation that is not solely existing in the ER Librarian’s inbox.
  • Second spreadsheet embedded into LG page to notify staff of known problems and resolutions.
  • Serials and databases Local vs consortial content Serial changes
  • Serials review 2011 Online tool COUNTER compliance Aggregator information
  • ER Usage Stats Waiting on commercial product Links to spreadsheets on LibGuide for large vendors Save spreadsheets in Google docs; sharing settings, create links Microsoft OffiSync
  • http://senorgif.memebase.com/2011/01/22/funny-gifs-unlimited-cats/ Now to launch our LG!
  • We (Jen and Becky) met with various departments and demo’ed the LG site: told them what type of information to expect on there, what content was on there now, how the forms worked, etc. We got some good feedback and modified the LG site a bit with the feedback. Most of the initial training and push came through email. We launched the LG site in Spring 2010 and gave people a summer to adjust to getting their information from LG. By Fall 2010, the Technical Services department stopped sending library-wide emails with the exception of urgent/emergency emails, opting to post most of the information on the LG instead.
  • Marketing Best method is to place needed information on the guide E-books PDA project Received usage reports; posted for viewing and download
  • E-books cross training session Created general ebooks page Advertised site by having cross training
  • Pros of using LG Gave us what we needed – a stable, reliable line of communication Flexible enough to add functionality from other web applications (Google docs, for example) Led to better tracking of issues Very minimal server/software maintenence Less than ideal characteristics (not quite cons) So far, we’ve only identified two less than ideal issues with using LibGuides in this way. Possible subscription cancellation Can make a case for keeping LibGuides Can export in XML or HTML Maintenance of e-resource usage reports Time consuming to update many spreadsheets Interim solution anyway; time investment in learning patron’s usage habits Besides identifying specific LibGuide pros and cons, we have also learned a tremendous amount about the broader issues of communication and relationships with staff. Be open to change and expansion Started only as problem reporting LibGuide evolved once I started thinking more broadly Different today than it was when we submitted our proposal People’s habits are hard to change Takes time for staff to remember to go to LibGuide as first step Takes time for them to gain trust in new system Frequency of question by email and phone has gone down Refer people to site; if info is not there yet, I add it Increased transparency and communication build better relationships with staff Led to higher level of trust Embedding selves in selector territory (LG traditional use = Subject guides) led to less resistance in adoption and acceptance People were in familiar territory, knew what to expect, how things worked, no huge surprises LG worked for us! One of the biggest things that came out of this is that LG helped us solve the communication problem *quickly*. The communication problem was affecting the service we gave to patrons, so time was of the essence. LG gave us enough flexibility to enhance communication and service and well defined parameters to work in.
  • Taming the communication beast: Using LibGuides for intra-library communication

    1. 1. Taming the communication beast: Using LibGuides for intra-library communication Becky Yoose, Bibliographic Systems Librarian Jennifer Bazeley, Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian Miami University, Oxford, OH LTC 2011
    2. 2. “ Gata hecho en mexico,” by Carbon Arc, http://www.flickr.com/photos/41002268@N03/3821896163/
    3. 3. Considerations… “ Day 123 – Thinking Cat,” by MissTessmacher, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bassclarinetist/4576439746/
    4. 4. Audience + Communication “ standing watch,” by amanky, http://www.flickr.com/photos/amanky/21541068/
    5. 5. Content “ Pile of cat toys,” bypluckytree, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pluckytree/2373044460/
    6. 6. “ don’t worry, i’m from tech support,” by the boy on the bike, http://www.flickr.com/photos/buro9/298998542/
    7. 7. The first version… By greenman, http://www.drupal.org.uk/elder-ones-recommend-drupal
    8. 18. “ jump” by K. Yahuhara, http://www.flickr.com/photos/ken_yasuhara/4042973945
    9. 21. “ Sprocket the Box Cat 4,” by steve caddy, http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecaddy/1812300414/
    10. 22. Thank you! Questions? Becky Yoose [email_address] Twitter: yo_bj “ Sprocket the Box Cat 2,” by steve caddy, http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecaddy/1812265762/ Jennifer Bazeley [email_address]
    11. 23. Resources <ul><li>Front Page for library staff (Miami University): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://libguides.lib.muohio.edu/ts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools for TS Front Page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Libguides: http://libguides.com/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wordpress (hosted blog): https://wordpress.com/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>planetplanet: http://www.planetplanet.org / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google docs: https://docs.google.com/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OffiSync: http://www.offisync.com / </li></ul></ul>