Personalised library support for academic staff

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The Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning.

In this case study Penelope Dunn, Subject librarian, Computing & Library Services, writes about developing personalised library support activities to promote the usage of library resources. These activities are part of the outcomes of the Library Impact Data Project (LIDP), which provided evidence of a correlation between library usage and student attainment (White & Stone, 2010).

Why did you decide to try this out?

Following research conducted at the University of Huddersfield which found that different academic schools used the library to varying degrees and in different ways (Stone, Sharman & McGuinn, 2015; Stone, Sharman, Dunn & Woods, 2015), we decided to take a targeted approach when marketing services to our users.

In January and February 2015 desktop visits, personalised library support appointments, were offered to academic staff in schools where student use of the library was low. Academics staff were identified as core figures the promotion of library resources and therefore by raising staff awareness of resources they could in-turn recommend them to students where appropriate.

Subject Librarians contacted each academic individually via a personalised email offering them an appointment; they were asked to sign up for an appointment via Google forms. The forms listed topics that could be covered in the desktop visit e.g. Summon, using the repository and setting up journal alerts but also had a section where the academic could identify additional items they wanted to discuss.

Initially, only a few academic staff booked desktop visits although it did open up the dialogue for other queries via phone or email. Following suggestions to have them later in the year we contacted staff again in June 2015, we also widened our focus to include other academic schools. The offer of appointments in June was more popular and more desktop visits were held.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The main challenge we faced was actually getting the visits booked in with academics due to their busy workload however, by offering them in June we did receive more requests for appointments so we have decided to take this forward for 2016.

The desktop visits were beneficial for us as we were able to learn more about individual academics research areas (if they had asked for research support) so we can better advise them in the future. It was also a good opportunity for us to promote resources staff may not have used before or had not used to their full potential. Academics were then able to promote these resources to their students and even include them on their reading lists.

Staff feedback:

Positive feedback was received from all academic staff who requested a desktop visit as the content was relevant as it covered specifically what they had requested and they appreciated that the library came to them.

What’s next?

We are planning to offer the desktop visits again this summer and we will hopefully be able to offer them to more academic schools. We published some articles discussing our desktop visits and other engagement activities in more detail, you can find it here:

Stone, G., Sharman, A. & McGuinn, K. (2015) Using library impact data to inform student marketing campaigns. Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, 11 (4). pp. 29-32. ISSN 1841- 0715.

Stone, G., Sharman, A., Dunn, P. & Woods, L. (2015) Increasing the Impact: Building on the Library Impact Data Project. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41 (4). pp. 517-520. ISSN 00991333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2015.06.003

White, S. & Stone, G. (2010) Maximising use of library resources at the University of Huddersfield Serials, 23 (2) (2010), pp. 83–90 http://dx.doi.org./10.1629/2383

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), Research Assistant, Teaching and Learning Institute.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning. Follow TALI on Twitter.

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Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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