Our Future (and Present) with Folio at Massey University Library

by Kat Cuttriss, Associate University Librarian (Client Services), Massey University Library, Te Putanga ki te Ao Mātauranga. k.cuttriss@massey.ac.nz 

Background

Massey University Library had been with our previous Library Management System (LMS) for the past 27 years. It had served us well in what was formerly a print-dominated environment. But changing times called for a fresh outlook, and so in 2021 we went through a comprehensive tender process and selected Folio – the Future of Libraries is Open – as our new Library Services Platform (LSP).

The key drivers for moving to Folio were its newly-built, microservices architecture (which makes it more flexible and future-proof), and it providing all the benefits of open source (e.g. ability to build our own functionality and user-driven development), combined with the reassurance of being hosted and supported by EBSCO. We were also keen to realise patron benefits, arising from better integration of catalogue data into our EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) and improvements in accuracy of eResource information and our full text holdings.

Implementation approach

We put an ambitious time frame in place for implementation, as we wanted our new LSP fully up and running in time for the start of semester 1, 2022. This meant we had 4 months between our kick-off meeting with EBSCO in September 2021 and go-live at the end of January 2022.
 
To meet this time frame (spoiler alert = we did!), we took a “whole of team” approach. Our first step was for library staff to get together and co-create our project’s guiding principles to keep us on track if (actually, when) the going got tough.

We decided we would:

  • Aim for simplicity over complexity 
  • Design for the majority rather than the minority of needs  
  • Be open to new ways of doing things at every point, and
  • Accept an MVP (minimum viable product) for go-live

Our second step was to set up Functional Groups, for Circulation, eResources, Discovery, Metadata, Acquisitions, and System Administration. The Functional Group leads were assigned, reported to the Project Steering Group, and met weekly with EBSCO as part of the Implementation Team. 

We then put out a call for EOIs to all library staff to join a functional group of interest to them. We weren’t looking for tech experts; we were looking for people with enthusiasm (ideally infectious), a natural curiosity about how a library system works, and a problem-solving mindset. Huge levels of interest resulted, resulting in large (but not too large) groups comprising representatives from the full library team. 

The next step was to set up robust communications channels, open to all library staff, and actively monitored and curated by the functional group members. As a result, we have a stunning back-catalogue of posts on our Teams site, all meetings recorded and accessible there, process maps that describe our workflows in our former LMS and now in Folio (used as the basis for training manuals) and issues registers, where we track progress with migrations and any surprises we find during testing. This ‘repository’ in and of itself is a taonga (treasure) but it’s the daily monitoring from various staff to keep the dialogue alive and issues responded to that is the real gift.  

Our journey to go-live

Without getting into all the nuts and bolts here (there is a mechanic’s workshop full of them!), suffice to say that Massey University Library is reasonably unique with our large distance-based student cohort (about 45% of our overall student population). We therefore need to provide the ability for all patrons (distance or on-campus) to select their fulfilment preference (pick-up or courier delivery to a specified address) at the point of requesting. We also have extended fixed due dates rather than rolling loan periods and rely on recalls to keep the print collection circulating well. 

Building the necessary logic in our circulation settings to get all these components working as they should was quite a challenge, and kept us on our toes! We struck quite a few “what’s going on here?!” moments that have since led to a few of us setting up daily “stand ups” (accompanied by strong coffee) to temperature check how things are going, do some quick-fire diagnostics on recent issues that have emerged, and provide each other with mutual support.

Where we’re at now

We have just gone through our first upgrade to the latest Folio release (Kiwi, so aptly named!) and while things still feel a bit ‘mid-stream’ vs. ‘crossed the river’, the functional groups have put us in a great, collective place. We now have an amazing amount of distributed capability across our wider library team, filled with folks who can ‘crowd source’ problems, understand and describe what’s going on, and resolve (or escalate) as required. This is a result of our functional group members developing their knowledge, their confidence, and honing their desire to support their colleagues in turn with their Folio skills. 

Folio’s open-source community approach is a step forward for us, as well. We are yet to ‘flex’ fully into that space, as up until now we have been so focussed on getting through to go-live. But this is where our future lies! 

Logo that reads, "folio future of libraries is open"

A new direction: Our journey creating a chatbot

By Bryony Hawthorn, Information Services Manager, University of Waikato Library, bryony.hawthorn@waikato.ac.nz

Background
The University of Waikato Library has been using a live chat service successfully for more than 14 years. This is a very popular service with students – and that was even before the pandemic flipped our lives upside down!

In 2019 library staff numbers were reduced, and we realised we may not always be able to staff the live chat as we have done in the past. This led to the idea of a chatbot.

Chatbot box. University of Waikato Library.

Meet our chatbot, Libby
We chose to build our chatbot using the LibraryH3lp platform as we already use this for our live chat service. So bonus = no extra costs! We named our chatbot Libby.

Libby’s interface is similar to live chat so it creates a consistent experience for users. The only difference is the colour: green for live chat and orange for the chatbot.

We create the responses that Libby sends. The chatbot administration back end has been set up to be simple to use and this means library staff creating responses don’t need to be tech experts. We’ve chosen to focus primarily on library-related topics.

Bumpy beginnings
Libby was very basic when we started. We struggled to get her to reply to keywords (the user had to type the EXACT word or phrase we had in our response bank) and she couldn’t return multiple responses to a single question. Because of this, Libby’s most common response was, “Sorry, I could not process your request. Please try a different word or phrase”. Let’s just say it was a bumpy beginning and a frustrating experience for our early users.

Stepping up
The road became a lot smoother when we introduced a natural language toolkit. This included:
● Text filtering – keywords can appear anywhere in a user’s question so no need to type an exact phrase anymore.
● Removing stop words (e.g. a, at, the, not, and, etc).
● Tokenizing – isolates words so they are compared separately.
● Stemming – allows for different endings for keywords.
● Synonyms – increase the range of words that trigger a response.

We also improved the way Libby greets users and made it clear how to receive help from a person. Most recently we added a module to assist with spelling errors.

One of our biggest successes has been introducing a prompt to encourage users to type their email address if they want a follow up from a librarian. Prior to Libby’s introduction, if the chat service was offline, users were told to email the library for assistance. This didn’t happen very often. But now users find it easy to add their email address and thus allow us to contact them. This has markedly increased the number of users receiving further help.

Example chat with chatbot. University of Waikato Library.

What we learned along the way
● Don’t do it alone. Use those around you with the right technical experience.
● Simple fixes can make a big difference.
● Make it clear to your users they are chatting with a bot who won’t be able to answer everything.
● Make it easy for users to request a follow up from a librarian.

Libby is still a work in progress and our journey is ongoing. Who knows where the road will lead. There are other ways to build a chatbot and some are simpler than what we have done. If you are interested in creating something similar, do look around for options to find something that will suit your needs.

If you’d like to learn more about our journey so far, you can watch our presentation from the LearnFest2021 conference.

Libraries on social media: Creating communities of practice for sharing and communication

By Rida Noor Malik, Matihiko/Tech Support Librarian, Hamilton City Libraries| Te Ohomauri o Kirikiriroa librariesdigitalteam@hcc.govt.nz

The term ‘social media engagement’ has been described as click based participation (Gerlitz & Helmond, 2013) where users simply ‘like’ or ‘heart’ a post. But do the number of likes and comments actually show engagement? Students and librarians create an online community of practice when they visit academic libraries via social media to “share, discuss and learn” (Wenger, 1998, p.34). This translates to ‘engagement’ with the library, its resources and activities through social media.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Several research studies measure the impact of the type of content on social media. Joo, Choi, and Baek (2018) explored the kinds of social media content that public libraries create for communication. Their sample of 4736 Facebook posts collected from 151 libraries across America were divided into ten categories. The results showed that promoting events was the most used category by all public libraries. For my research study, I collected three months of Facebook and Instagram posts from Auckland University of Technology Library and Massey University Library. When I analysed these posts, promotion was also the top category for both New Zealand academic libraries.

Promotion has always been a major focus of both academic and public libraries’ social media pages. However, promotional type posts can be combined with content which facilitates informal learning opportunities. These opportunities are a way of softly marketing that your academic library has a brand with a goal to promote research and share knowledge. Libraries can focus on creating content where students get opportunities to engage with librarians. For example, Powell Library at University of California goes beyond the occasional photo on Instagram and incorporates content that emerges from the curriculum (Salomon, 2013). If we look for an example closer to home, Massey University has recognized that Instagram can be a fun learning and teaching tool for them and their students. This is evident from the Kupu O Te Wiki (Word of the Week) posts which are focused on teaching Te Reo Māori (the Māori language). These posts got different types of comments, such as students thanking the library, asking for Te reo classes and general comments where people tagged other students (Malik, 2019).

There are many ways to educate users through social media because there is a rapid growth in online learning options. For example, Facebook groups can be used for asynchronous discussions which are helpful in holding group activities and online workshops. Libraries can also use participatory features of social media to start conversations, invite users to comment, or take part in polls to deliberately ask for user’s opinions, feedback and questions. This can be useful for engaging users in collection development, improvements to library spaces, and other operational activities. The response from users can help to determine the reputation of the library within the university (Mon, 2015).

Simply promoting services does not create a vibrant community of practice. When libraries use social media for mass communication, users become passive viewers instead of active contributors. Therefore, promoting conversations and knowledge sharing can help form a community that evolves naturally. For example, Hamilton City Libraries often engage with their library users in a humorous way but it has also opened up a window for getting feedback. According to Wenger (1998) a strong sense of community is important for building the trust needed to safely share opinions and ideas. Using social media while keeping in mind the communities of practice guidelines can provide a context in which to put the power of ‘sharing and communication’ to engage a community.

References:

Gerlitz, C., & Helmond, A. (2013). The like economy: Social buttons and the data-intensive web. New Media & Society, 15(8), 1348-1365. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444812472322

Joo, S., Choi, N., & Baek, T. H. (2018). Library marketing via social media: The relationships between Facebook content and user engagement in public libraries. Online Information Review, 42(6), 940-955. https://doi.org/doi:10.1108/OIR-10-2017-0288

Malik, R. (2019). Using social media for student engagement: A study of two New Zealand academic libraries [Master’s project, Victoria University of Wellington]. Te Herenga Waka. http://hdl.handle.net/10063/8201

Mon, L. (2015). Social media and library services. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool Publisher.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

That’s a wrap on 2021 – What our DigiDex Champions have been up to this year.

Maximising the use of Scosk and GIFs for (lots of) fun and (no) profit – Blog Bunch

What is Scosk? Why are GIFs so important? The Blog Bunch would like to explain … 

The Digital Dexterity Blog was launched on 1 February 2021 as part of our virtual festival, and we have published 30 posts from various contributors since. The number of page views is 7,480 so far and we have had viewers from the Netherlands, Austria, the USA, Asia, the South Pacific, and Canada, together with Australia and New Zealand. 

To align with CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Framework the blog uses the same categories as the framework. In addition to this Kate Davis, CAUL’s Director of Strategy & Analytics helped us increase our reach using the RSS from the DD blog and embedding it on the CAUL home page in a combined feed with the Modern Curriculum blog and setting up automated Twitter posts from the CAUL account.  

We have been using Deakin’s Teams site for most of our digital communications and collaborations, and of course this entails talking about the weather and our general wellbeing. We discovered that our most random (yet inspiring) conversations usually took place late on a Thursday or Friday afternoon (AEST) when we were pretty much ramping down for the weekend and needed to vent or have some fun. 

gif of a swinging sock with candy canes popping up from the top of the scok.

Scosk was actually a typo for ‘socks’ but we came up with an on-the-spot definition of ‘a secret Swedish toddy’ and that was it, Scosk took on a life of its own in our Teams chat! It has become a kind of code word for “I need help” or “I wish it was the weekend”, and we use it quite a lot!

 GIFs have been our go-to for cheering ourselves up and making each other laugh. The Blog Bunch has had so much fun this year, we’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions (although figuring out how to make headings consistent and images fit on the page has been challenging at times). This is a great working group because we learn new things every day, we learn from each other, troubleshoot together, and feel empowered to reach out beyond the Digital Dexterity Champions for contributions.   

gif by leart @leart_alert https://giphy.com/gifs/advent-lea-leart-1gTphMvpmYmQEPDO5F

So warm up the Scosk and find those GIFs for inspiration and support!  


Recipe for a living book of digital skills – GitBook team

First, start with an idea. (In this case, a tweet questioning if there was a book that teaches modern not-quite-technical computer skills.) Add the open source GitHub platform and blend with enthusiastic Digital Dexterity Champions and a diversity of skills. Stir regularly, mix in some training, a touch of fun, and plenty of trial and error. Simmer for a couple of months, then bake in a welcoming and supportive learning environment. Fill with content sourced from passionate professionals. Finally, serve your living book of digital skills to hungry readers. 

The GitBook Project group was formed in early 2021 and has been working through our recipe above. It’s been quite a journey. What started as a spark of an idea has flourished into a tangible open access book, ready for content to be added by keen professionals.  

When the project team came together in early 2021, most had little experience of GitHub, GitBook and markdown. Needless to say, a lot of upskilling has taken place since then. Chapter outlines, a code of conduct and instructions for contributors have all been created, and content is now being added to our GitBook. We’ve found that linking to the Digital Dexterity Framework and its six areas of capabilities gave the project a solid foundation and direction.  

A big part of the success of the group has been the safe environment we’ve created, which not only forgives mistakes but actively encourages them. Failing is part of the learning journey and is seen as an active way of growing skills. Some things we’ve learned along the way include: 

  • Everyone learns at their own pace. 
  • Speak up when you are struggling, as someone else is most likely feeling exactly the same way. 
  • Use the experience around you and ask for help from the wider digital community. 
  • All contributions are important, no matter how small they may seem at the time. 
  • And don’t delete branches in Github! 

We are really proud of our achievements this year, which include attending ARDC GitHub training, creating a test book filled with recipes, launching A Living Book of Digital Skills and running a training session for other champions on using the GitHub platform. Dr Sara King and Katie Mills presented at the EResearch Australasia 2021 conference and the group has been accepted to present on our experiences at VALA and ALIA National Conference in 2022.  

So there’s more to come as we refine our recipe and invite more cooks to add content to the book. If you would like to contribute, please visit the Contributing to the Digital Skills GitBook page or email digidexlibrarians+gitbook@gmail.com 


DigiDex Governance in the time of COVID – Governance Working Group

This year went so fast, and we achieved so much! The Digital Dexterity Champions Governance Working Group would like to share our experiences with you: 

  1. Emily Pyers (now working in the world of public libraries) created some great new branding for the Digital Dexterity Champions to use in all of our communications and promotions. The Champions can see it in the General channel files on our Teams site, in the Brand Library.  
  1. Marisa King (now in the world of creative writing) made a Communications Plan template for all of the Champions to use, making it much easier for us to figure out our audience, messages, and means of delivery. Again, Champions can find the Word version of the template in the General channel files on our Teams site, in Communications Documents. 

These first two achievements have given the DigiDex Champions the means to communicate in a professional, consistent manner which will encourage staff and organisations to engage with the group. 

  1. We ran the inaugural Champions’ survey to discover how our community is feeling after our first two years of operation. Emily P and Gina Sjepcevich crafted a series of 16 questions and we had a response rate of almost 40%. We hope that we can build on this effort in years to come. 

The survey gave us valuable insights into how the group would like to proceed, which will also inform CAUL’s review of its Communities of Practice in early 2022.   

We hope that we can continue to provide support to the Digital Dexterity Champions, and we wish you all a very safe, merry, and joyful Christmas. 


A year of sharing resources, experiences and knowledge  – Resource Sharing working group

2021 has been a wonderful, productive year of collaboration and creativity in the Resource Sharing Working Group. The year kick started with a lightning talk at the “Championing the CAUL Digital Dexterity Framework” virtual event, and has been building on the work done in previous years advocating for Library OERs and establishing a Digital Dexterity Educator’s group in the OER Commons repository. 

This year we have seen the membership of the OER Commons group increase to 76, with 22 library-related OERs made available in the repository. The group has been active in raising awareness among the wider CoP of OER Commons, including facilitating an Advocacy workshop, and publishing blog posts in both the Digidex blog and the Enabling a Modern Curriculum blog. In addition, the group has had a paper accepted for VALA in February entitled “OER Commons: A game of snakes and ladders for the library profession”, and will also be facilitating a day-long pre-conference workshop at the ALIA National Conference in March 2022, entitled “Experiential and exponential learning to build digital dexterity”. To top off an amazing year, the group also spawned the Gitbook group, an innovative project to create a digital dexterity OER which has quickly evolved to take on a life of its own.

All of these achievements have been collaborative and creative in nature, and attest to the strength of the relationships that we have built in the group. These activities and relationships have seen us continuing to build our own knowledge and understanding of OERs and fertilise cross-institutional discourse and activity as well as within our own institutions.   


The blog bunch will be back in 2022. Thank you to all who contributed to the blog in 2021. In the meantime, we wish you all a safe and restful break over the New Year.

gif by Stefanie Shank @stefanieshank https://giphy.com/gifs/dog-dogs-doggies-DzYe9IWr5gvLg6nfIW

Open for everyone – our new living digital book

By the GitBook team (Blair Kelly, Bryony Hawthorn, Emma Chapman, Jasmine Castellano, Katie Mills, Karen Miller, Leah Gustafson, Miah de Francesch, Nica Tsakmakis, Ruth Cameron, Sara King, and Wendy Ratcliffe)


In keeping with the ideas of digital creation, innovation, and problem solving, we are excited to announce the launch of ‘The Living Book of Digital Skills (You never knew you needed until now)’: a living, open-source online guide to ‘modern not-quite-technical computer skills’ for researchers, library staff, and the broader academic community.

A collaboration between Australia’s Academic Research Network (AARNet) and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), this book is the creation of the CAUL Digital Dexterity Champions and their communities.

The Digital Skills GitBook is an open-source project and we are now open for contributions. Our vision for the book is that it is made by everyone, for everyone. We want it to be accessible to both amateurs and professionals, creators and users. For this reason, we are keen for the entire community to contribute to the creation of this resource as a way to build our collective capacity to support academics and library staff working in this space.

The GitBook team has worked together to create the chapter outline, a code of conduct, instructions for contributors, and a copyright statement. We are now seeking content  at three skill levels (Developing, Skilled and Adept) from our communities. A contribution doesn’t have to be complex, as you can see from the example topics listed below, and you can choose to submit parts of a topic too:

  • How to create a directory structure
  • Naming and organising files/folders
  • ISO dates
  • Readme files
  • Using password managers
  • Markdown
  • Git and GitHub
  • Screen casting
  • Managing collections

Here is a sample article. The text should be simple and accessible to everyone, with as little jargon as possible, or where there is specialist language this should be explained and can be added to the glossary.

Take a look at our requested articles page. Could you write an article on any of these topics? Do you see any topics we have missed? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then please use one of the following options to contribute content or topic suggestions (choose from 1 or 2):

  1. Sign up to GitHub and use our contributor form. If you don’t have a GitHub account, use these instructions to set one up; or
  2. Connect with us on Slack

For more information about copyright, please see our Copyright Statement.  also encourage you to circulate this within your own networks and approach expert colleagues who may have their own skills to contribute.

Thank you for helping our GitBook come alive, we can’t wait to hear from you!


Why Three Perspectives? A human centred design approach to supporting digital dexterity: People, Design and Systems Thinking

By Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, UOW Library), Keith Brophy (Manager Digital Environment, UOW Library) and Donna Dee (Manager Workforce Planning & Development, UOW Library)


University of Wollongong (UOW) Library has a long-standing commitment to the professional development of our People through both informal and formal channels. The learning culture at UOW Library is fibrous and evolving, and our staff expect that ongoing professional development will be part of their journey. We have been building staff digital dexterity capacity for several years through an ongoing staff program, and in developing the most recent iteration of that program we have hit upon a valuable combination of staff skills and approaches that can be recognised as a composable team – a synergy of expertise that informs and describes the development of dexterity needs for our people.

Our composable team consists of three essential perspectives: Design Thinking + Digital Dexterity, People + Culture, and Systems Thinking + Integration. Forming working relationships that are based on the skills that each member brings to the group is far from a new concept. Nevertheless, over the past two years we have found the combination of these perspectives enables each of us to contribute our strengths and maximise the beneficial outcomes for the organisation. An attitude of open-mindedness and trust has been a key success factor, as much as the expertise that each of us contributes. It has been important for each of us to allow our ideas to be challenged, built on, and transformed by the input of the other group members. This can be understood via the lens of remix culture, in which the resulting outputs are born from existing elements and transformed via the remix process into something new. Researchers Yu and Nickerson (2011, in Flath et al. 2017) found that a human based genetic algorithm which functioned to combine existing human ideas, resulted in ideas which were “significantly higher in terms of originality and practicality” (Flath et. al, 2017, p. 309).

Putting People First: Design Thinking + the importance of Culture

Key to the practice of design thinking is the active practice of empathy with the needs of those you are designing for – in this case, the staff of UOW Library in addition to our strategic priority of the Future-Ready Library. Incorporating the design thinking perspective has meant that we have placed these two elements as twin anchors for our process. In empathising with the needs of the Library’s Future-Ready strategic direction, we understood that the reason for developing staff digital dexterity was greater than technical and immediately job-related skills and that the underlying need was to prepare staff for a rapidly evolving and digitally rich future work environment. This environment would change more rapidly than is practical for a structured skills development program, and so it was essential to empower staff to be quite autonomous in their own development and provide a supportive environment which removed potential pain points and encouraged them to contribute actively to this process. Practicing empathy with the needs of our people and understanding the areas of interest that drive them as well as their desire for a combination of group work and independent activity, has influenced the design of our current staff program which is underpinned by a series of communities of practice.

The Right Tool: Empathy + Collaboration + Functionality

Technology in and of itself is not going to change or improve how we work. As the adage says: If you apply digital to a thing that’s broken, you’ll have a broken digital thing. It’s been very important to recognise that an established culture of continuous learning, growth mindset and adaptive thinking is part of a holistic view of the potential system solutions. In evaluating potential tools and spaces, we have considered factors such as functionality, integration, and interoperability with existing and future systems within the environment, and combined the potential of the technical solutions with what we knew about our people and how they wanted to learn and grow together. Collaborative learning opportunities had been highlighted as valuable to our staff, as had the opportunity to drive a learning journey based on individual motivations. For these reasons, alongside the adoption of Microsoft Teams as a ‘virtual office’ during the rapidly evolving COVID19 pandemic, we chose to house our digital dexterity programs within the Microsoft Teams environment, creating channels for Professional Development and individual channels for each of the communities of practice.

Continuous Learning Journey: Growth Mindset + Ideation

We have also needed to be adaptable as the context in which we deliver our program evolves. This was particularly important as we moved into an extended period of remote or hybrid work in response to the pandemic. Our staff were variably in need of support, and then in need of space within the myriad of digital channels they now needed to monitor. Our mini composable team meets monthly to talk about how the program is progressing, and evaluate if we are making the best use of the tools and time that we have available to us. Part of this process has been to encourage and support each team in the evaluation of new functionality as the systems evolve – understanding that teams who actively identify the potential value in new system capabilities will enjoy a greater sense of ownership and autonomy in directing how they work. From promoting the use of online task trackers for project management to virtual whiteboards for brainstorming sessions to collaborative document editing, we further support and build an agile, growth mindset mentality – resulting in skills and outcomes that directly align with the Library strategic direction.

The agile asynchronous approach has also dictated the possibility for spontaneous groups to form elsewhere in the organisation. Staff were proactive in suggesting changes to the communities of practice that aligned more clearly with their learning goals, and we had enough adaptability built into the program to cater for that. By extension, we have also seen other composable teams form around shorter-term learning goals and components of strategic Library projects – groups of staff who have come together to tackle project priorities or explore a specific skill or interest area without formalising this as a community of practice.


If you are interested in adopting the principles of the approach we have outlined here, the following points are a good place to start in thinking about how this might work in your own context.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is it for?
  • What elements do we have in our institutional culture that enable learning and growth?
  • How can we link this to broader strategy?
  • How might we think of a holistic solution, placing our users and their journey at the centre?
  • How do we maintain engagement and a culture of continuous learning?
  • Rather than being tied to what has worked in the past, what inputs and the data do we currently have that help us imagine what could work for the future?
References

Brophy, K, Dee, D, & Newton, K 2020 ‘UOW Library: Embedding learning and development as part of our organisational DNA’, International Information & Library Review, 52(3), pp.250-252.

Flath, C, Friesike, S, Wirth, M, & Thiesse, F 2017, ‘Copy, transform, combine: exploring the remix as a form of innovation’, Journal of Information Technology, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 306-325.

‘I didn’t know the library did that’. Making Library work in curriculum more visible.

By Kat Cain (Manager, Digital Literacy Programs) and Craig Patterson (Manager, Faculty of Arts and Education Library Services, Learning and Teaching) – Deakin University.

It’s a shared experience in public, specialist and academic libraries – regularly hearing our community members amazed reflection, “I didn’t know the library did that”, when we provide learning services beyond that of collections. The fuzzy notion of the library as mostly just books and borrowing can even be a common idea that many librarians have before they start their degree and get into the field, and the breadth and depth of Library work then becomes evident. But how to get this message of Libraries as a teaching and learning service out to our communities?

Public libraries have experimented with different comms and different ways to share their offerings with their communities. The “Unusual Library Things” infographic, that visualised resources or services available in libraries across the world, was a great way of articulating libraries’ role in community building and lifelong learning. To launch their Inspiration Lab with its fabulous digital equipment and opportunities to build technical skills, Vancouver Public Library (Canada) strategised their communications as stories and creation. Their experimentation with live-tweeting and live streaming, bus shelter advertisements, digital signage, and beautifully designed physical advertising material was effective and award winning. Closer to home, New Zealand’s Invercargill City Libraries joyously engages with their communities through creative social media approaches that shine a very big light on their lifelong learning model. Do you remember their Kardashians riff of “Keeping up with the Librarians”? While Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries, took a personalised and incredibly effective path to reaching out to their senior community and connecting them to services and resources they needed. They got on the phone and called them. The communication impact of this approach was pretty clear – being interviewed by Leigh Sales, a these “legends are Librarians at Yarra Plenty Library” shout out by the Victorian Premier, and a jump in public awareness about how diverse and responsive to community our public libraries are. These are just a few examples of fabulous ways libraries can build awareness of their learning services.  

Academic librarian roles increasingly include teaching responsibilities

Academic libraries are often considered the heart of the university, central to the learning, teaching and research endeavours. Although we have strong service delivery and facilities management, modern academic libraries also prioritise pedagogical offerings and outcomes. In fact, academic libraries have moved beyond tentative concepts of contributing to student learning or as supporting learning. As Corrall and Jolly (2020) make clear, libraries and librarians have a major role to play in learning and teaching. Pedagogical principles underpin academic library services and engagement. Our information and digital literacy focused learning materials are amazing; and our librarians are wonderful teachers. What we haven’t done as successfully is make clear that librarians have an active, informed role in teaching and learning. We have a tendency to focus on the services, our collections, the spaces and equipment we provide. We are less adventurous in marketing librarians as teachers and libraries as learning hubs. Perhaps this emerges as an unconscious reflection of the contested and questioned role of librarians as teachers (Wheeler & McKinney, 2015)? 

People can debate whether librarians are teachers or not, but what we do know is that that people want to learn when they come to the library. And if people want to learn, everyone wins if that learning is well-designed.

As a learning and teaching focused team for Deakin Library, we have grappled with how to articulate and contextualise what we do. We found that teaching staff were often surprised that we run sessions on digital identity or offer digital literacy curricula mapping. Some of our library’s best teaching approaches and outcomes were also our best-kept secrets and we wanted to get the word out.

But how to do this? We spent time as a team discussing what we do and how we frame it.

Deakin Librarians work to develop the digital fluency and knowledges of our community, both staff and students. We do this through good learning design, which is not in most people’s conception of what it means to be a librarian, or what libraries offer. But it does make sense: if libraries exist to build communities and facilitate lifelong learning, there are knowledges and skills people in communities can develop to meet their goals. That’s where we come in.

We then needed to consider how we could shape a teaching identity for Deakin Library. That’s why we developed a ‘Working with teaching staff’ webpage rounding up our most impactful ways to partner with academics at Deakin. We knew that academics were unlikely to serendipitously find and explore this pitch page. Instead, we aimed for Liaisons to use this resource in their conversations and communications with academics, with explicit language around learning design and teaching capacities. To further support this self-framing, our team concurrently redesigned a whole suite of web resources focused on teaching needs. Again, rather than relying on our community stumbling across the messaging and learning materials, we proactively promoted it through both our Deakin Library blog (Article) and the broader university blog (Network).

Screenshot of Deakin Library teaching resources page, with resources grouped under headings.

Like all communications, there is room for improvement and changes. Continued conversations and putting new ideas on the board is needed. However, the value of consciously promoting our Librarians as teachers and continuing to self-frame as active in learning experiences is immeasurable.

We leave you with two questions – how do you frame yourself as a teacher and how do you communicate that identity? And we challenge you to put your teacher statement into the discussion space below.

References:

Corrall, S., & Jolly, L. (2019). Innovations in learning and teaching in academic libraries: Alignment, collaboration, and the social turn.

Wheeler, E., & McKinney, P. (2015). Are librarians teachers? Investigating academic librarians’ perceptions of their own teaching skills. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 111–128.


Digital dexterity and a Libguides review

by Ruth Cameron, Coordinator Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle

In 2020 the University of Newcastle Library ran a pilot student internship program. A part of the scope of work for the intern project was to review our Libguides, with a view to making them more user-friendly, student-centric and discoverable. 

Our student intern first reviewed the guides herself and then created a survey for distribution through the Library’s social media channels. She incorporated all responses into a report with recommendations on how to proceed with our review.

In 2021, based on the student recommendations, we launched a Libguide Refresh Project, starting with our Subject Resource Guides. We aimed not only to incorporate the student feedback, but also to reduce the number of guides by 75% and their size by 25%. Fortunately, we were able to bring our student intern back as the student representative on this refresh project. We ran an environmental scan of 15 academic libraries’ Libguides and examined the literature to discover what is considered best practice. We considered these results in combination with our intern’s recommendations. We also created a flowchart for the decision-making process (for example, how do we decide to make a Libguide instead of a web page?).

What does this have to do with the Digital Dexterity Framework? Buckle in my friends…!


The intern project

Inviting a student to review our Libguides, and provide recommendations from herself and other students, aligns with the capability of Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation by designing and creating new digital media (the student survey on the library’s social channels), then strategically collecting and analysing data using digital tools and techniques.  

The refresh project

The refresh project aligns with Digital Communication, Collaboration and Participation in that it involved:

  • Communicating effectively in digital media and spaces
  • Actively participating in digital teams, working groups and communities of practice
  • Using shared productivity tools to collaborate, produce shared materials and work across boundaries

We used MS Teams for our shared documents and working comments, and Zoom for our meetings. Our student representative joined both of these digital spaces and participated actively in both by providing comments, recommendations and suggestions based on her earlier research.

This work also aligns with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation as we used digital evidence (collected in the intern project) to solve problems and find new solutions, and we developed a new project utilising appropriate digital technologies. We then showcased best practice, and encouraged innovation in other library staff.

Creating and sharing the flowchart

This activity aligned with ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using ICT-based tools for professional tasks such as writing, recording, presenting, task management, analysing data, managing files and working with images, and evaluating and choosing software relevant to different tasks.

We used MS Visio to create the chart and outline the decision-making process. We chose Visio because it’s part of the Office 365 suite, which is in turn supported by our institution’s IT Services. We shared the chart with the rest of the team by uploading it to our MS Teams site, aligning not only with ICT Proficiency and Productivity, but also with Collaboration, Communication and Participation, and with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation.

Creating templates for the Subject Resource Guides

The co-manager of the Academic Engagement team created a template for the Subject Resource Guides, and the Teaching Liaison Librarians then populated the templates according to discipline. This work aligns with the capabilities of ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using library and information systems, learning and research environments to a high degree of proficiency, and supporting others to use those systems and environments effectively and productively.

And of course

Our Subject Resource Guides are specifically designed to support Information Literacy!

What does this mean?

Take a look at your current and upcoming library projects in light of the Digital Dexterity Framework, and you’ll be surprised at how many capabilities you can align with. The Framework can also give you ideas on how to include more capabilities to enhance professional development.  Try it and see how easy it is!



Empathy, the Library, and Open Education

By Adrian Stagg, Manager (Open Educational Practice), University of Southern Queensland

During an interview, the anthropologist Dr Margaret Mead was asked what evidence she considered noteworthy as a society first progressed toward ‘civilisation’. If we consider the question, physical artefacts such as farming or hunting implements, or perhaps pottery seem likely answers.

Dr Mead used a broken (and healed) femur as her reply.  The healed bone inferred that another human being had demonstrated empathy.  Rather than abandoning this person, another had cared enough to nurse them back to health. Empathy, she asserted, was the start of civilisation (Byock, 2012), and a consideration for the welfare of others differentiated humans from the animal kingdom.

It can be reasonably argued that librarians – whether public or academic – require empathy as a professional skill.  Libraries continue to be places for democratic empowerment, places that value equity, and promote safety. Libraries also become food pantries on many campuses, a function well outside information and digital literacy. 

During a reference interview with a first-year student, most librarians concentrate on normalising confusion and creating a welcoming space as they do answering the questions.  As academic spaces, libraries invest in student-centred design for services and function; when supporting academic colleagues we attempt to understand context to which solutions can be linked.

Unsurprisingly, open education finds a home in many university libraries.  Their remit includes the organisation, access, and maintenance of knowledge resources, and is usually accompanied by supporting infrastructure and staffing (despite consistently conservative or diminishing budget allocations). 

Open education meets pragmatic library needs such as mitigating library expenditure by transitioning to open texts, reducing workload by using existing OER, or accessing low-cost, openly licenced professional learning.

Open licencing affords unique opportunities that connect academic staff with learning and teaching approaches (such as open assessment), and position the library as a key stakeholder in learning design. Furthermore, these partnerships often yield scholarship and research outcomes, raising the profile of librarians-as-researchers.

However, openness is – like libraries – foundationally aligned with social equity. Openness reduces barriers to access and increases participation in education, equalises readership and access to information, and addresses systemic issues of financial inequality and educational attainment. For librarians – exposed to the ‘macro-view’ of the university through interactions with students from all disciplines – it is difficult not to respond with empathy to trends that reinforce inequality.

Our failing in open advocacy is often untempered empathy. Many library-run OER workshops can be summarised as ‘a solution looking for a problem’, presenting openness as a self-evident good without necessarily considering the audience. The results are workshops populated by ‘the usual suspects’ and an inability to sustain open practices beyond small pockets of already-dedicated practitioners.

Starting with OA Week, I’d like to propose that ‘It matters how we open knowledge’ refers to our engagement as much as processes, policy, and infrastructure.

Professor Geoff Scott, when speaking at an ACODE Institute introduced the mantra ‘Listen, Link, Lead’. When advocating for sustainable change, he encouraged the audience to actively ‘listen’ to, and understand the context of others. Then ‘link’ the challenges to new approaches that directly influence a positive outcome for the individual.  Lastly, is the opportunity to ‘lead’ the change and build momentum based on success.

Transforming open education from ‘open as library business’ to ‘open as everyone’s business’ requires empathy and connection. 

Take time this week to review your strategies.  Do you ‘listen, link, lead’? Have you unintentionally excluded teams from your initiatives, and are there opportunities for collaboration (such as Learning Designers, Student Services, the Student Guild)? 

The unique affordances of openness lie in reuse, remix, and repurposing content to suit local contexts and learner needs. Perhaps, using the lens of empathy, we explicitly consider our skills as librarians with similar affordances.

Take the opportunity to share and learn this week by reflecting on your practices in the Comments.

Reference:

Byock, I. (2012). The best care possible: a physician’s quest to transform care through the end of life. New York. Avery. 


Design thinking as a tool for innovative libraries

By Kristy Newton, Digital Literacies Coordinator at UOW Library / Design Thinking Facilitator.
Contact: knewton@uow.edu.au or @librariano on Twitter.

What is design thinking and why is it useful for libraries?

Design thinking is an iterative, human centred methodology for creative problem solving. It is a method that prioritises user needs throughout the development process and emphasises a mindset shift from “How do we?” to “How might we?”. Rather than starting from a pre-determined solution, the process generates a range of ideas and solutions to choose from.

Design thinking is a really valuable tool for libraries to use in developing innovative resources or services and gaining a stronger understanding of their client base. The understanding of client needs is particularly critical – after all, there’s no point in basing your service model around the best and tastiest oranges you can find, if what your client really wants and needs is apples. In terms of increasing the capacity for innovative practice, design thinking allows staff to take the focus off common roadblocks such as being stuck in discussing what has worked well (or not so well) in the past. Instead, staff are empowered to engage in a proactive exploration of what has the potential to work well now and into the future, using the current contexts, client and staff needs, and potential resources as valuable sources of data to aid in developing new solutions.

As an example from my own institution, design thinking has been used at UOW Library to illustrate the potential for new library services, to assess and redevelop team practices, to explore themes emerging from staff or student feedback, and develop a wide range of support resources.

5 primary phases of design thinking

There are five primary phases of the design thinking process, and it is common to cycle between the phases throughout the development and implementation of a solution to a design problem. Design thinking is an ongoing process of refinement and adjustment, but does not mean that you never reach a solution. Rather, you shift your attitude to embrace the perspective that your users, ideas, and solutions are continually evolving.
Note: there are multiple models of design thinking and the language may vary between the models, but the essential core of the practice remains consistent through the various models.

Empathise

This phase focuses on understanding the needs of the people in a given situation. This might be Library clients like students, staff, or community members.

Define

Once you understand the various needs and perspectives of the people you are designing for, you can define a design question. This will be the anchor point for all the work you do from this point forwards. It should be derived from your understanding of the people you look at in the Empathise phase.  

E.g If during the empathise phase you found that many people were confused about who to ask for help with their assessments, your design question might be “How might we increase understanding of the assessment support available at [your institution]?”.  

Note that this is different from “How might we help people with their assessments?” (too broad) or “How might we advertise our Library research workshops?” (too specific).

Ideate

This phase focuses on generating multiple ideas for ways to address the design question. A creative, blue-sky approach is best here, and participants should avoid trying to move to solution mode too quickly. No idea is too crazy during the Ideate phase.

Prototype

This phase focuses on choosing the most appropriate idea from the Ideate phase and starting to “build” it. This can take a physical form, or it might be more of a documentation of the details of an idea.  

E.g. If your idea was to develop an app that linked together all the support services that can help students with their assessments, you could develop a working prototype, or a series of visual mock-ups. This phase involves fleshing out the details of the idea, considering how it will work for the user, and how they will interact with it. 

Test

This phase focuses on getting real time feedback for your idea – putting it out into the world and seeing how it works in action. The feedback gathered during this phase often starts the cycle over again. You need to consider how the solution works for the intended user, and address any issues through mini-cycles of the Ideate and Prototype phases. This is similar to beta testing.  

Where to get started with design thinking

There are a variety of training opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about design thinking. Sites like LinkedIn Learning offer several self paced online options and a quick Google will often reveal local opportunities for facilitated training with an experienced practitioner. Good places to start also include organisations like IDEO, and the Stanford d-School that have a great range of online resources available.

Regardless of how you choose to begin learning about the methods, it’s important to remember is that design thinking is a practice that requires engagement to truly experience the benefits. Within the structure of the five phases, there are many sub-skills like effective questioning techniques and creative ideation methods that enhance the practice of design thinking. If you or your colleagues are interested in exploring design thinking, forming a group with whom you can practice the methodology as you learn will be really valuable.

So get in there, start learning, and let us know how you go by sharing your experiences with the hashtag #MyDigiDex !