Getting engaging at #NHSHE2016

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.

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Journal clubbing – strategic engagement: new models of relationship management for academic librarians

My team journal club discussed the following paper this week

Strategic engagement: New models of relationship management for academic librarians

Jeanette Eldridge , Katie Fraser , Tony Simmonds , Neil Smyth . (2016) New Review of Academic Librarianship.

Very much hot off the press having been published earlier this month!

We had a highly productive discussion reflecting the paper echoing our own ongoing work on development of new models around liaison and engagement.  I found the concept of “bridging conversations” helpful as an alternative way to present what I have always thought of as the translation service I operate between HE and the NHS. The focus on senior academics and professional services colleagues was greater than in our approach and we were left wondering who does carry out the liaison that is no longer covered by the team in the article?

It would be good to have seen more robust research around the extent of engagement roles in Russell Group (and beyond) institutions.  Investigation focused on information from websites when a conversation might have been both more straightforward and useful. We do not use engagement as a term in either our team name or job titles so may have slipped through the net.

The importance of resolving ambiguities within the library about the new model chimed and prompted discussion of how we might need to continue this work locally.  Also interesting was that the model appeared to have been compromised by the subject related needs of some disciplines.  I am very aware of some of the tensions around this in health with specialist knowledge around systematic review valued by those we work with.

There would be definite value in meeting with the team at University of Nottingham to share experience.

 

Journal clubbing – Exploring Customer Engagement for Deeper Relationships

We had the latest round of our team journal club last week.  The paper this time was

Bettina Peacemaker & Jill Stover Heinze (2015) Moving Users, Moving
Results: Exploring Customer Engagement for Deeper Relationships, College & Undergraduate
Libraries, 22:3-4, 261-272, DOI: 10.1080/10691316.2015.1081084

This proved to be a great discussion starter.  It examines the research around customer engagement in the business literature and places this in the context of seeking to increase engagement in the academic library environment.

While the language is firmly in the “customer” model it was easy to look beyond this to the arguments being advanced about collaboration and engagement.  The model in libraries has frequently been one of “Here is the beautiful service that (as experts) we have designed for you – enjoy” followed by disappointment at uptake.  We have increased our openness to feedback for the things we provide in this way we have not always moved far from this model.  Business process management models can also drive us towards there being a right way for something to be done to match our work flows.  Are these approaches going to drive engagement and partnership?

I was interested in the idea that the experiences people have with us drive emotion that in turn fuels engagement.  Our libraries can be places of very big highs and lows – there are days where people will feel we have saved their life or ruined it.  Powerful things happen around us!

We explored how we might better work with the information we have about users and non users to better communicate with them. I heard about an interesting example in public libraries lately where they wrote to all the people who had not visibly used the service for a year saying “we miss you” and it drove a big return of uptake from the targeted group.  There is also the question of how much time we spend working with those who are already engaged versus those who are not.  Generally we need to do more with the information we already gather from activity and feedback.

A big theme of the paper is the need to cocreate services and to engage people with a view to addressing their problems rather than focussing on our own agenda.  Reading lists is a live topic at present and was highly illustrative of the potential for a different approach that might takes us forward faster in the end.

Office with window

Potential liaison role interview practical exercise

Somewhere not much under twelve months ago I discovered this office being used as a storage dump. Meanwhile I was working down in the basement, round the back of the rolling stack, with a view of some aircon fans.

I think getting yourself moved from a basement to a rather nice spot would make a pretty good practical exercise when looking to recruit new library liaisons.  Admittedly it would take a bit longer than the normal five minute presentation but I guarantee anyone who can achieve this task is likely to be worth having around. You could ask people how they might go about progressing this? Who they would speak to? How they might make the case and persuade people to their point of view?

Time to unpack!

Journal clubbing

The latest paper discussed in our team journal club took a bit of a kicking.

The Library Student Liaison Program at Eastern Washington University: A Model for Student Engagement

This paper covers a project where a student was paid to become a student liaison working directly for the Library.  They worked 15  to 19 hours a week during term time reporting directly to a fairly senior member of Library staff. They were set three main goals – enhance communication with the student body, articulate student perspectives / determine priorities to meet student needs and increase student participation in library programmes.

In common with the paper about the Library street teams (discussed last time) the paper tells us about what they did but falls down on the evaluation.  There are few attempts to address how the programme will be evaluated and where figures are provided they are frequently partial. For example we have no context to claims of an improvement in the affect score on Libqual+.  Changes to enquiry levels are discussed but without absolute figures.

In critical appraisal terms it falls at the first hurdle with a focussed research question lacking.  Like much LIS research we get a case study approach.  Applicability of the model proposed is quite limited locally with a very different institution involved and large sums of money required (at least $5K in pay for student at 2006 prices).  The commitment of staff time to managing the role was also substantial.

On the positive side we can see many of the initiatives that were proposed or introduced correspond to work we have in place or under consideration / development.  It also prompted lots of discussion of various paths for student engagement and ways to gain the student perspective.

So not a paper to change our practice but plenty to stimulate debate (and a nice blast from the past with them proudly reporting making 192 friends on MySpace).