On reading – Frugal Innovation

When I started in libraries a couple of years ago (ahem) I thought we were pretty stretched budget wise.  It turns out I started in a period of relative plenty for NHS libraries with a relative flood of cash coming into the system.  Despite that we were always trying to see how to make the money go further while dealing with the expanding possibilities from all things tech.

And here we are now – pressure on the money we have, not a lot of money in prospect, ever growing demands and possibilities.  So what to do?

I saw a positive review of “Frugal Innovation – how to do better with less” (2016) Radjou, N. & Prabhu, J. so thought it might be worth a read (you can check out the brief version and watch the TED Talk if you like).

The book is heavily based in the corporate world but is useful for all that.  There are a wealth of case studies included which help illustrate successes (but not much talk of failures that I recall).  The authors identify six principles for frugal innovation that I will consider in a library context.

Principle 1 – engage and iterate

I think there is a lot of potential for libraries here.  A big part is how we can become more agile.  Smaller NHS libraries have a real advantage here. A small team working in a manageable sized organisation can rapidly take an idea from light bulb moment to launch (provided it doesn’t cost too much money!).  I loved working like this and always enjoy seeing people doing things like this in the Sally Hernando awards.  My experience is that this kind of agility is definitely harder to drive in the much larger services found in a university environment.

We are increasingly active in seeking (and gaining) engagement with the users of our services. This can only be to the benefit of the service.  We are not our users and the more we can understand their motivations, needs and world the stronger the chance of us innovating towards them.  UX work is making great progress with understanding the library in the life of the user.

Principle 2 – flex your assets

A lot of the examples in this chapter are from manufacturing.  Sharing resources is a path libraries have long pursued and there may be yet more mileage to go.  We could consider also how we can improve our supply chain. Big academic services still buy a lot of stuff so there must be potential to work better with suppliers to direct this.

In many cases libraries have a significant amount of prime space and there have been some good initiatives aimed at bringing related activities into that space to drive better uptake of evidence resources and services.  How might we package our services differently to bring them closer to the people who need them?

Principle 3 – develop sustainable solutions

Improving our sustainability can have positive impacts.  For manufacturers they can turn waste products into other products or find others who need to buy them.  There are markets for our used books (though most things are only fit for pulp when we have finished with them).  Encouraging reduced use of plastic can have an impact on our waste bills.  Sustainability is also a big driver for many of our staff and can create real engagement around thinking about how we might encourage reduced use of paper for example.

Principle 4 – shape customer behaviour

There are some interesting ideas here about gamification and visualisation.  These cna be used to encourage positive behaviours.  Currently peoples data is quite locked up in our systems – could we provide ways for people to understand the pattern of research they carried out with our tools?  Another area where we might find interesting lessons is around the use of social pressure.  With pressure on study space at peak times we might explore ways to encourage good citizenship.

Principle 5 – co create value with prosumers

This should be a great one for libraries as once you strip away the awful prosumers term you are talking about building relationships with engaged library users to create champions.  NICE Evidence champions have been an effective means to support peer to peer teaching and building expertise in the user base has the potential to greatly extend our reach.  Perhaps there is the scope to bring more people into our teams in loose ways?  Can we power up the PDNs or rope in the pharmacists?

Principle 6 – make innovative friends

We could all do with more friends.  It would be great to see a more systematic approach to using the good stuff in the Sally Hernando Awards.  We should also look at working our way into the Academy of Fab Stuff (I know some are already there) as this will put us in touch with people who are moving things forward and looking to improve.  Working through networks is the norm for NHS libraries in particular and I would argue that this is the base for hyper collaboration options.  It would be good to see us getting more interesting people involved with improving library interfaces.

All in all this was an interesting book.  The business orientation is a bit of a barrier but the ideas shine through.  Time to do more with less again!

 

 

 

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Journal Clubbing – Principles and practice in impact assessment for academic libraries

A change of tack at the team Journal Club with a paper on impact assessment

Christine Urquhart, (2018) “Principles and practice in impact assessment for academic libraries”, Information and Learning Science, Vol. 119 Issue: 1/2, pp.121-134, https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-06-2017-0053

It was a different paper in that it was a literature review so was rather more general than some of the articles we have been using.

We found the idea of reciprocal value propositions worth exploring.  What happens when these go wrong?  There is a danger in both sides being willing but not always able to deliver on what they might wish for.  Opportunities for using value co-creation could also be imagined.  The idea of student reviews on the value of particular reading list choices could potentially lead to some tricky conversations but would only be providing a formal recognition of discussions that already take place amongst the students.

In many areas the literature points to the importance of strategic alignment with our organisations wider goals.  This is not revolutionary but worth trying to do well.

Discussion on the time involved in qualitative data work along with more generally on gathering and managing feedback should help us in future to more carefully frame what we are trying to achieve.  GDPR should also drive care over data collection and retention. Just because data might be available does not mean it is practically or ethically desirable to use it.

I found the referenced paper Mengel, E. and Lewis, V. (2012), “Collaborative assessment”, Library Management, Vol. 33 Nos 6/7, pp. 357364[Link] on developing a set of measures for a balanced score card particularly interesting given the difficulty of this task and passed it to relevant colleagues.

Overall we found a lot to discuss in the paper but I am not sure it worked as well as some of the research papers we have used previously.  Too often we were left with too little information without going on to read the underlying papers.

 

On reading – Libraries and Key Performance Indicators (2017) Appleton

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.

Cover of book

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!

Journal clubbing – impact of physically embedded librarianship on academic departments

After something of a gap it was good to have a return of the Journal Club at work.  The article this time was

The Impact of Physically Embedded Librarianship on Academic Departments – Erin O’TooleRebecca BarhamJo Monahan 2016 Portal: Libraries and the Academy

This was interesting for the team as a way to consider how librarians might best approach closer working with faculties and in particular whether physical collocation is important.

The article examines the impact of a shift to three liaisons being based more with their faculty following changes to the delivery of enquiry services within the library.

There is a big emphasis on counting different routes to interactions.  The picture from these figures is unconvincing.  There are a number of variables that can be controlled for.  There is little consideration of any change in the type, quality or depth of the enquiries.  This would be more useful to know – a fall in enquiries could be a positive thing if more useful enquiries are replacing them.

Given the focus on quantitative data it was also disappointing to not have any examination of data around their use of Libguides.

Generally the study would have been more interesting by including qualitative elements. There is a brief mention of chats with faculty and it would be these interactions that are interesting.

So a helpful paper from prompting discussion but not one where you can draw much that is transferable.

 

On reading – an end to the Update updates?

I read quite a lot. I suspect this is not an unusual statement for people working in library and information roles.  Keeping up with the constant flood of things I want to read, happen to read and feel I should read is a challenge.  This blog has recorded the evidence of me working through one of my back logs and I have been tackling slightly smaller piles of a whole raft of other regular publications.  Generally things are starting to look okay with me reading about stuff that actually happened recently.  I haven’t really got back up on my blog reading – perhaps a next project.

Anyway – one conclusion from all the Update updates is that while I value some of the things I read I suspect that my ramblings are of less value (even to me).  Accordingly future Update updates will be perhaps be about a single item that particularly strikes the imagination.

I was pleased in the Dec 2016 / Jan 2017 issue to see a snippet about the publication of the Principles for Metrics report that was produced by a task and finish group I chaired for the Knowledge for Healthcare programme.  Work continues on creating ways to engage people and build their understanding of metrics (see previous posts on this). A new version of the quality metrics template is under development to help with this.

On a personal note I was glad to read an appreciation of Julian Lendon who died last year.  I never knew him but the Solihull Central Library he oversaw the planning and building of was a formative place for me.  This video preview for a talk there on Beatrice Cadbury gave me a chance for a little look around and is a nice example of how libraries make a difference.

Update November 2016 (and March 2015) and the end of the road

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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!

October Update (and April 2015)

The shrink wrap crackle of a new edition through the letterbox pushes me to try not to fall further behind again.

October 2016 had some good stuff in it.

Interested in the plans for the new Lambeth Palace Library – I work just around the corner and will hopefully be involved in a building project myself nearby so there will be two Library projects within a few hundred metres over the coming years.

The Library Leadership Reading Group is profiled.  I have dipped in and out of this but frequently find it hard to participate in twitter events in the evenings. I am hoping to participate in the next one on Compelling People which looks useful for me as someone who needs to influence people without some of the usual levers.

Alison Day writes about the creation of the PKSB for health I am a fan of this in that it finally prompted me to complete my PKSB.  Having examples grounded in my predominant practice was a real help. The new online version also made it much easier to work through (and share). The close working between NHS libraries and CILIP has been a real positive for both.

I loved the Reads and rights campaign at Bath Spa – such a brilliant engagement project building on the strengths and values of the library within the institution and society.

Way back to April 2015 next with the announcement of the Knowledge for Healthcare Framework – stunning to think it was less than two years that this was published given all the work and progress subsequently (more on this in another post).

The other main thing to strike my eye was a piece by Paul Pedley on protecting the privacy of users particularly relevant in the light of the passing of the IP bill and a tide of news relating to capture and use of personal data.  There is a lot in the article to check out and some solid pointers for areas that we need to look at as a service.