One of the fun things I did last year was contribute a case study based on my work with the KfH Metrics Task and Finish Group to the book “Libraries and key performance indicators: a framework for practitioners” by Leo Appleton.
I was really pleased to have the opportunity to share our work in this way and to get my name in print!
Prompted by reading a review of the book (in the December issue of the HLG Newsletter) and by an upcoming workshop I am preparing for health librarians in the North I thought I would have a read myself.
It is a compact book at 150 or so pages including references. I think brevity has a lot to recommend it in a practical text and this could be dipped into or read completely fairly quickly. It covers a lot of ground in a short time including a useful review of past efforts at performance management in library services and the influence of current trends around user experience approaches. There are a number of examples from different library sectors which is useful for widening the perspective.
There were areas where I would differ – for example around the amount of confidence that can be placed in the various statistical return series. Changes are coming to the long standing NHS statistics return reflecting careful consideration of how useful a number of these measures are in practice – particularly given likely variation in collection.
The chapters on methods provide good overviews with references to follow up. The librarian tendency to count anything that moves has been exacerbated by the opportunities offered by digital resources to do this and the book is good on tempering this enthusiasm. I would perhaps have liked more on how to manage a regular flow of qualitative data in such a way as to support KPIs. A contribution to a bundle of performance indicators across a single KPI perhaps?
Terminology is a bit of a muddle and I found myself confused at times about what was being referred to. A definition of a KPI is provided but merits clearer flagging. While there were a lot of excellent warnings about potential pitfalls and dead ends I wonder if more could be done to highlight the positive ways forward? The various case studies were useful in providing some idea of how people have been able to advance with this work.
It was a relief to read my case study in context and I think it makes a useful contribution to the book. The principles advanced in the NHS Metrics work are widely applicable and certainly supported by the wider research presented in the book.
Having declared my bias up front – I think this is a useful book and I hope people will read it!
A new round of our team journal club. This time some reading looking at different models for delivering liaison in academic libraries.
As ever I found myself wanting to read more research on the effectiveness and impact of the different models.
As Depeche Mode didn’t say.
Another years CPD (2016) safely logged away and submitted to CILIP for the Revalidation Assessors. Slightly worried that it is almost time to sort out the 2017 log.
Highlights? Talking Metrics at HLG2016 in Scarborough where I got to meet a number of colleagues previously known only from twitter and by their good work. Hearing Sherry Turkle on Reclaiming Conversation with lots of food for thought on how we interact online and in person. I also ended up getting involved with work around evaluation frameworks with Sharon Markless which was a real eye opener.
Definitely need to get the Revalidation done earlier next year as it really is a bit far away for some of it already. Given the lack of blogposts of late I will have some reflecting to do.
This years MJ Hibbett and the Validators tune is Lesson of the Smiths – enjoy!
Where is the time going? Without the discipline of the CILIP Update backlog and with other competing priorities this blog has been something of a ghost town.
The academic year is also fast approaching it’s end and there are a number of tasks still to complete for the PDR.
One of those was to consider the book Beyond Authority: leadership in a changing world (2007) Julia Middleton.
I had picked this out as addressing a particular challenge for me in my leadership role in that I currently operate with no direct reports. For my service to improve I need to affect change but this has to happen by working through partners, with limited funds and with people who I do not have particular authority over.
The book itself considers how leaders can operate beyond the traditional forms of authority granted by position or control of funds. It considers how circles of authority relate to your place in your wider organisation and society in general. When we move into the outer circles we need to lead beyond authority. My role places me frequently in this position. Indeed I can feel like I am outside my circle much of the time while working to deliver a service for one sector from within another and as the employee of an external organisation with those I frequently work with most closely.
Key sources of power when operating in the outer circle are identified as communication / networks followed by personality and ideas. It has certainly been my experience that good ideas will win people over but that you need to get a lot of people on board for them then to advance.
The book explores different roles for those leading beyond authority. I am attempting to be a transformer in driving change and the book is useful in highlighting the potential to be used as a useful idiot or expert idiot.
The bulk of the book considers what is required to lead beyond authority. I was generally encouraged by these. Elements around the right approach fitting my perception of my character. People are key and it is important for me to build my networks but also to get outside my professional bubble. The right methods section was where I have most work to do – this is about the long game but particularly about building strategic coalitions. To do this a clear strategic message is vital. Having been introduced to Strategy on a page as part of my NHS Leadership programme it seems a good place to start.
All in all a worthwhile read – I suspect that even those who feel they operate firmly within their own organisation and with the ability to direct a team to achieve their strategic goals would benefit from considering how they might reach out and work effectively beyond the library bubble.
It has been a long old struggle but this post covers the current issue of Update and the last of my backlog. The plan is not to let it get out of hand – there is no doubt that a current issue of Update is more interesting than one a year plus old. While not always the most thrilling of publications I have continued to find the odd thing I have not heard about elsewhere and some really helpful brief articles on a wide variety of topics.
The October issue has a timely article on privacy and the Library user. My catch up reading meant I read another article by the same author (Paul Pedley) only the other day. There is a handy list of potential paths to take to work with users around privacy issues.
I have already spoken to colleagues about the article by Wendy Morris on the Big Read at Kingston University. We are currently engaged on a mass reading project and there are valuable ideas here on how to build on the possibilities this offers.
South London colleague Sian Aynsley updates on the KfH Learning Zone. I heard a verbal update on this at #NHSHE2016 so this is more a reconfirmation of details of this helpful resource.
Finally in this issue I enjoyed reading about the experience of Sue Willis on the Libraries Taskforce. It is fascinating to have a glimpse at this task of influencing within government. The importance of adjusting communication styles to suit audience was an obvious take away.
And finally – May 2015!
I had already seen the Design Thinking for Libraries toolkit but this is well worth a look if you are interested in user experience and design thinking. There is a free book with all sorts of tips and ideas on how to learn more about users. I will probably read this again ahead of a project I am managing to use external consultants to help with this at work.
Finally there is an article explaining obligatory revalidation – sadly it didn’t make the case strongly enough to get it past the members!
The #NHSHE2016 conference was more than just a poster competition and a chance to catch up with good colleagues.
There was the usual full programme of talks. It was useful to hear about some of the new structures in the NHS around STPs (Sustainability & Transformation Plans AKA Sticky Toffee Pudding AKA Secret Tory Plans) with Local Workforce Action Boards (LWABs) a new one on me and seemingly a useful place to seek involvement. Within the developing STP picture there is less emphasis on organisational boundaries. A big drive for a digital ready workforce should also have implications for us – support for effective working in an online environment is something we could plug into.
Louise Goswami gave a good run through on KfH progress. The patient and public area was the newest on me and it was good to get a view of the breadth of work in this area. The patient and public is not a natural match for HE based libraries – it was good to see ideas for how we can support the Trust in their work with these groups rather than perhaps taking a direct patient facing role.
Sue Lacey-Bryant gave a great talk on efforts to advance “mobilising evidence and organisational knowledge” AKA Knowledge Management. There are concrete tools and training coming that can help us make this a reality which is great as I have long maintained an interest without advancing very far (see this since abandoned 2008 blog where I read Learning to Fly). There will be a campaign #amilliondecisions advocacy championing expertise of librarians and knowledge in mobilising evidence.
I was really pleased to participate in an innovation presentation session. I spoke about how I made our annual reports for NHS partners more engaging and useful for all concerned. The slides are pretty simple in that they consist largely of a lightly edited version of the report.
The style is very much based on that used by the University of York for their action plans. The talk was well received – both in terms of winning first prize in a public vote but also in terms of people discussing it with me afterwards. I had a similar experience when I shared it with colleagues in my local network so it was great to be able to spread this further. I plan to follow up in the Spring to see if any NHS colleagues have gone with it following the talk.
I always enjoy preparing a poster for the #NHSHE2016 Conference organised by London Health Libraries (now with added KSS). There are always good prizes and the chance to create something to make the office look less dull while sharing a piece of work. We were tasked with the theme of Knowledge for Healthcare which was pretty straightforward as this encompasses pretty much anything you care to look at professionally these days.
My main direct involvement with KfH has been around metrics. The presentation I gave at HLG2016 Scarborough brought home to me the need to make the materials we had produced in the Metrics Task and Finish group more accessible. It was also clear that people were interested if things were put to them clearly. So a poster on Metrics was the obvious outcome. I went with trying to hammer home the message about the four principles and what they mean in practice. Using MARC as an acrostic had the bonus of chucking in a feeble nerdy library pun.
The poster was well received. While it came only 6th out of 9 in the popular vote this was a step forward on last years metrics poster which was a rare non prizewinner. A few people verbally told me how clear and helpful they had found it. I was really pleased to see a tweet afterwards sharing the poster with a group of other libraries after it had been raised at a network meeting. I am hoping that people will share with me examples of how they have used the metrics work.
Next steps are to create a version of this post for the KfH blog and move on with the plans to set up a national metrics collection tool.