User Engagement Librarian, checking in

My first update on my new role comes over three months after starting, so that might be an indication of how busy I have been!

My official title is User Engagement Librarian. There were many discussions leading to the development of that title, and I think it was the best possible choice for what my role has been thus far. The discussion of what to call myself sparked a greater discussion about the name of our department (Information Literacy and Outreach), and how we might look to change that in the future. These decisions have a weighty impact, so if a change happens it will likely take years!

The project taking up most of my time presently is our library’s website redesign. I am on the team charged with designing the new site, and also that will draft policies/procedures to ensure that our site is more cohesive and responsive in the future. I was selected to be part of this group because of my education and experience in user experience design (UX). My concentration in graduate school was digital libraries, and UX has always been a professional passion.

At my previous institution I built the library’s website from scratch using LibGuides and was able to design and run my own user testing. The college decided to redo their website and I brought my knowledge to that project, and helped plan and run the user testing. That has been my role again here, but with a much larger audience and for a very complex website.

We have been mostly in the information gathering stage and in the new year transitioned into more of the testing phase. We are currently running an online card sorting activity and library faculty/staff survey. We have future plans for focus groups, user testing, A/B testing and potentially another survey. I am so blessed to be able to start my new role with a project of this magnitude that is also intellectually stimulating.

That project helps me define my role as being part of my department, but also as one that communicates across the library to improve the services we provide to our users. I’ve also been working on our in person and online instruction, developing standards for online videos, engaging users through social media and events, an institution wide project investigating the needs of transfer students, and partnering with our current Psychology and Social Work librarian to take over his duties when he retires this summer.

Outside my institution I have an upcoming ACRL panel presentation, a presentation at the Florida Library Association (FLA) Conference in May, and a book chapter due in March. I’m doing a lot of work with ACRL committees, FLA committees, and two ALA roundtables. I’m also getting more involved on campus with the Pride Faculty and Staff Association.

It seems overwhelming when I write it all out, but I come to work every day energized and excited to do work. Again, I will end with a hope for more consistent blogging in the future. Time will tell…


Revisiting Habits and Moving Forward

It’s appropriate to start this entry with a reflection on the last. First, the simple act of stating my intention to blog on my evenings has created a desire that had gone missing. I’m now keeping a list of potential blog topics and am noticing an increase in my ability to thoughtfully reflect on things that happen on a day to day basis. I also had the opportunity to freely download an app called Habits Pro. It is normally $2.99, but I use Apps Gone Free to learn about great paid apps that are free for a limited time. The Habits Pro app came pre-loaded with habits in several categories, and lets you customize the categories and the habits you track. You can track with a yes/no or a rating scale, and also add a habit that lets you make a note. I’m using many of the pre-loaded habits and I added a Work category. It also lets you set the time for each habit, so I am only responsible for tracking the Work habits Monday-Friday.

It’s been excellent so far. I’m one of those people who can’t stand seeing the little red notification circles on my apps and it’s good motivation for me to engage in each habit. So far my work habits are set as reading an article/exploring a website, and then to save that to my personal learning network. I have been great with the first habit, and not so great with the second. That’s mostly because I haven’t decided on where I want to develop my PLN. I made a Google site and I think I’d like to stick with that because I can save links or documents, but the thought of saving all my links again there has been daunting. I actually saw a good blog post on this topic on Tame the Web this week for anyone who’s interested.

It’s been busy here with students scurrying to finish end of semester projects but I haven’t had to teach any classes so I’ve had more time to catch up on projects. I got the idea to start hosting a monthly film screening in the library using videos we have public performance rights for. I was able to find 4 films to show for the Spring semester and have been going through a fun process of getting instructors involved, working with our marketing department, and informing the campus about the event. We’re trying to get instructors to lead facilitated discussions after each film and of course I have instructors willing for every month but January! I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on the project from people all over campus and it’s making me more excited.

I finished our Spring 2012 newsletter that we’ll send out at the beginning of the semester. Our Technical Services librarian picked out some read alikes and I put together a page on resources for doing presentations. I’m hoping it will be well received. I’m working with one of our Business instructors to build a research guide to complement his new course and I got to do some digging through our eBook collection for eBooks with case studies. That’s another work in progress! I’ve also updated my priority list to help me focus in the few weeks without students. I have some tutorial videos I’d like to record, and I need to take a fresh look at our instruction services.

My original idea for this post had everything to do with rethinking instruction and my view of libraries in general. As I’m typing in Word I realize it’s taken me a page to get there and I wonder if it might be better to save that for next week. I’d like to post more frequently if possible, so maybe I can squeeze that in early next week.