Teaching Paradigm Shift
The need for digital resources to support the paradigm shift
Part 8 The future
The Future. Scenario. The newly created position of Library manager for the Devonport Campus of the Tasmanian Polytechnic has been advertised . The position created a stir in library circles because it was totally at odds with the perceived role of the classic librarian. See position description appendix 3. Senior management of the Polytechnic had requested the change in line with documented changes in delivery methods and student learning patterns. Management requested a totally new approach to knowledge management. As a result of a long and extensive selection process Clive C has been appointed to the position on a 5 year performance based contract. His brief is to provide the services required by the delivery staff and students. The following is a narrative of his first year.
12.3 2009-2010. A diary of change. January 2009. Began the process of developing, in conjunction with delivery team leaders, a blueprint of the future operation of this library. The disciplines involved ranged from trade based courses to intensive business and IT courses. “Over the period of six weeks I carried out in depth meetings with the Team Leaders to explore firstly why they did not use the current library service and secondly what would need to happen to entice them back.” “It soon became evident that their teaching needs had changed, the needs of their students had changed but the service provided to them had not changed. Staff members were spending valuable time trying to find teaching resources that would allow them to manage the changes in delivery and student focus. They are not skilled researchers one team leader said. They end up with second rate material. It was at this point that the alarm bells began to ring very loudly, it appeared that the bulk of the delivery staff were extremely disenfranchised from the library service, preferring to ask Google ™ rather than approach the library staff.
In Brief I made the following observations: Delivery teams preferred to find their own resources using their limited research skills. There is a perception that library staff do not relate well to the different areas being taught on the campus. There is a perception that the skill sets of library staff are limited in relation to equipment operation, technological fault finding, resource development and sourcing, and web based course development. There is an overabundance of outdated text based resources. There appears to be little movement in updating current audio visual resources. There was tendency on the part of staff to ‘learn’ from each other rather than approach library staff. It was taking valuable team time to find usable resources. “It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there are major problems with the way in which the library environment is servicing its clients., it is also becoming increasingly clear that there is little in the way of team library consultation with regard to how teams deliver and operate “To me, as the Library manager this is extremely worrying”
February 2009. Began the process of identifying the skill sets within the library staff. Rather than become involved myself I employed an outside team of HR consultants to complete the process. I took great pains to explain to the staff that this was all about professional development and changing the focus of the library, it is not about removing staff, but identifying gaps in the range of skills available. March 2009. Received the report from the HR consultants. It is not encouraging, not only did they identify the range of skills available , but identified a range of attitudes that were driving the levels of performance. The skill sets were interesting primarily supporting my view that , as a library, we are providing generalised support only. The circulation skills were adequate , the collection maintenance skills were adequate. In essence we maintained the resources and we lent them out to staff and students. There was an average understanding of the technological tools that were becoming available for use by teams. From the management level there seemed not to be the entrepreneurial skills necessary to drive innovation . It could be argued that budgetary constraints were the problem however this does not prevent the development of a ‘can do ‘ attitude. “ I began the process of matching skills against team requirements, I listed the problems highlighted during my conversations with the teams and supported by the survey results. I used the Talis results simply as a guide as I know that the information is flawed slightly.” “I then tried to reconcile this with the known staff abilities.”
April 2008. Time is now pressing, if the performance of my library is to improve action has to start very soon. My work with the skill sets and team needs identified a range of skills that are lacking.” In no order of significance they are: •Interviewing skills •Research skills using digital media •Customer service skills •Technological skills equipment and computer usage •Training skills •Web skills…social networking •Entrepreneurial skills •Marketing skills •Digital manipulation skills.
In general if this library is to support delivery teams, staff need to be able to develop relationships with teams, collect information, analyse the information, understand delivery methods and be able to source or develop resources to support them. The team needs to be innovative and be able to market ideas to the clients. Armed with this information some hard decisions have to be made. It is obvious that the Cert IV in LIS is not sufficient as a base qualification for staff. The Diploma LIS must be the base qualification and staff must be encouraged to develop further skills especially in the management, training, resource development and customer service areas. In the last week of April I called all staff together for a full day. During this time I explained my vision for the library and made it clear to all staff that it was not negotiable. They either supported the concept and became team players or other arrangements would have to be made for them. This was perhaps not the best approach to take however as time is pressing and changes in performance are expected by the Polytechnic management the hard decisions have to be made. After the team meeting, individual interviews took place resulting in two of the current staff opting to leave. This allowed me the opportunity to change the team dynamics by no longer following the practice of employing only library technicians. I want people who are team focussed, customer focussed, with skills suited to the new direction.
May 2009. Advertised for two new full time position in the library. Necessary skills included: Demonstrated Team skills Demonstrated Customer service skills Demonstrated Training skills Demonstrated Marketing skills Demonstrated outstanding technological skills Demonstrated outstanding web skills Demonstrated research skills Interviews were carried out in late May with two successful candidates chosen.
June 2009. The new team is in place . We again meet for a day long session. How different from the first meeting, now we have people who are committed, skilled, and excited. The day resulted in the development of a project plan extending to the end of this year.
Project Plan. •Identify target teams in most need. •Begin the process of meeting with identified teams •From the meetings identify the key performance indicators we need to satisfy. •Publish the findings to all teams for endorsement. •Identify staff development needs. Plan a process for achieving the development needs. •Model proposed web site. •Trial the web site with identified teams and other Polytechnic clients. •Go live with the website. •Collect feedback from the website. •Develop a marketing plan for the library, collect ideas from a range of identified stakeholders. •Publish the marketing plan to management along with cost benefit analysis and budget •Begin negotiations with digital content providers.
•Begin the process of collection analysis, deselection. •Develop library layout plan according to criteria (see appendices). Involve all stakeholders. •Begin process of changing the facility. •Evaluate the entire process.
Weeks available 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1. Identify target teams in most need. 2. Begin the process of meeting with identified teams 3.Identify the key performance indicators we need to satisfy. 4. Publish the findings to all teams for endorsement. 5. Identify staff development needs. Develop achievement plan. 6. Model proposed web site 7. Trial the web site with identified teams and other Polytechnic clients. 8. Go live with the website. 9. Collect feedback fromthe website. 10. Develop a marketing plan for the library, identified stakeholders. 11. Publish the marketing plan/budget to all stakeholders 12. Begin negotiations with digital content providers. 13. Begin the process of collection analysis, deselection 14. Develop library layout plan according to criteria Involve all stakeholders. 15. Begin process of changing the facility Evaluate the entire process.
The teams identified by the survey and by informal discussions which indicated a dire need for support were identified. These tended to be the more progressive teams or the teams faced with challenging students. The identified changes in delivery and the changing needs and learning styles of students were prime factors in this decision making process. Teams targeted included Pathways, Information Technology, Business, Drysdale , Hair and beauty, Community services aged care. And finally Start@Tafe. Following the identification of the teams, library staff were each allocated a number of teams that they had to support. This enabled the development of a close one on one working arrangement and allowed a feeling of trust to emerge. The keystones of the new environment are: Involvement of library staff with individual teams to build understanding, rapport and trust. The development of a strong digital collection policy. The purpose of this published document is to guide the development of the digital collection. How the material will be sourced, maintained and presented.
July and August saw continued development and fine tuning of the project plan and the ongoing development of the resource teams. The team development process progressed well with the delivery teams actively involved providing information about their delivery methods and resource needs. The last week in August saw the signing of the first agreement for the delivery of online content.
September. The Website is now live, it is being actively promoted as the main portal to what our library an offer. Feedback from teams and students is encouraging and the page is constantly being tweaked and improved. It is my intention that the webpage will become our contact with not only delivery teams and students but also other external clients who may be interested in what we offer.
October. The marketing plan is now a week old and has been received well by all stakeholders. Plans are now being developed to completely revamp the library space. A sub team of library team members has been formed and is actively working with Capitol Planning to come up with workable plans.
November December. With the summer break period for delivery teams approaching plans are being put into place to redevelop the library space, plans have been accepted and funding approved. When the facility reopens in February it will be a fully operating digital resource centre, fully committed to supporting the delivery paradigms of the delivery teams and fully committed to providing an exceptional support service making full use of innovative ideas .
Evaluation. In the past 12 months the library environment has been completely redeveloped it is no longer a reactive environment bound to past practices , it is now agile, innovative and proactive actively seeking out delivery teams, forming working relationships , developing viable delivery solutions and yet maintaining a welcoming environment to serve the needs of all clients. I feel that I have now created the environment that was wanted and needed by the delivery teams.
Conclusion. (MAYBE) “Digital collections are a fundamental part of the operation of every library in the twenty first century. Juggling our resources to ensure that readers, or users, are best served through a mix of print and electronic resources provides a significant challenge for libraries. By using the concept of the hybrid library and combining an analysis of value based upon the matching of digital footprints, as they exist to users, libraries and information producers, new insights can be gained into collection development and delivery.” What Makes Libraries Relevant in the 21st Century? Measuring digital collections from three perspectives. Roxanne Missingham, National Library of Australia(pp 36-45).
Going back to the original hypothesis which contained the line “What role does or will the library system play in sourcing, modifying and managing digital resources?” It seems that the evidence is rapidly building that basically in an academic environment where staff have access to computers and high speed internet connections and are well trained in search and research techniques, it is beginning to play little role at all. Obviously not all academic/teaching environments are at this point but it is only a matter of time before they reach it. Current students have little time for ‘old fashioned’ research and search methods. Imagine if you will a situation where for one day we close down all computers and the internet and revert back to how it was. Card indexes, librarians as the holder of all knowledge and a group of y gen students anxious to complete assignments, all in a very ‘quiet’ environment. I have no doubt that anarchy would occur very quickly. No, the time has come to accept that access to information and knowledge has changed, it is user driven, it must be fast, visual, and short. Clients no longer want to read a full book to gain one paragraph of knowledge, knowledge must be digital, searchable, printable, copy and pastable. Intellectual property and copyright obviously are the losers. Although significant steps are being made to address this, the attitude of the x and y generation is actively working against them. They basically have little concept of intellectual property their approach is..”the tools exist to copy the material so why not use them”
In conclusion , there is no doubt that the library as we know it especially in academic and training environments is under threat. We are in the midst of a major revolution in the way information can be accessed and used, it is difficult to see how the library can survive. The one factor that may play a role is that digital material once freely available on the internet may suddenly acquire a saleable value , in which case the library and its ability to purchase licenses for the use of information may survive, but only for those who cannot afford their own access costs.