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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

LARK meeting @ EBLIP8

The Eighth International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference
Suzana Sukovic


The EBLIP8 draft program is ready now with workshops galore. Check it out and start planning a wonderful mid-winter/mid-summer break in Brisbane! Three days talking about evidence-based practice – what else can a LARK wish for? A LARK meeting, perhaps. 

8 July at 8.30 am  If you are in Brisbane, here is the date and time for your diary. It is very exciting because this is the first time a LARK meeting is organised outside Sydney. As the meeting description says,  EBLIP8  is  a  unique  opportunity  for  people  outside  Sydney  to  extend  their  research  circle  by connecting  with  LARK.  This  meeting  will  be  an  opportunity  to  network  and  discuss how we  can  work  together  across  geographical distances. 

Birds of a feather flock together.


Picture above Rufous-naped_Lark_Bare_07_03_10_5.JPG

Monday, 16 February 2015

Quality assurance improvements in Australian university libraries

By Janine Schmidt

Karen Tang, Quality assurance improvements in Australian university libraries
Performance Measurement and Metrics vol. 14(1) 2013 pp.36-44

The need to reduce costs and maintain or extend services has led to an increasing focus on continuous improvement strategies within libraries. The libraries of the Australian Technology Network, LATN, comprising Curtin University, RMIT University, QUT, UTS, UNISA and the Auckland University of Technology have collaborated for some years on various projects. This paper describes the maturing of service improvements by the group from 2005 – 2010.

In 2005, a study reviewed quality assurance practices at the member libraries through examination of websites, a questionnaire and interviews. In 2010, the findings were revisited using the same questionnaire to determine further actions undertaken. This paper focuses in particular on the responsibility for quality assurance, the use of appropriate performance frameworks and the extent of involvement of individual training and work planning, to determine growth in line with a framework developed by Wilson and Town in the United Kingdom. This framework establishes five levels of quality assurance from an ad hoc approach at Level 1 to an advanced approach at Level 5, where all activity and the organisation culture are focused on continuous improvement.

What is quality assurance? It includes performance measurement, planning and benchmarking against others to ensure that services provided are “fit for purpose”. Who determines the quality? It is the customer. Notions of TQM, balanced scorecard, the Australian Business and Service Excellence guidelines,  ADRI (Approach, Deployment, Results, and Improvement) and LEAN (have expanded on the approach. The paper notes the changing emphasis on quality, referring to AUQA (Australian Universities Quality Agency), whose activities have since been transferred to TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency). We aim to create a smarter future for Australia - by upholding standards for students.

The paper notes the growing sophistication of approaches to quality assurance within the libraries studied. All have a documented quality framework; most allocation responsibility for quality improvement to a specific staff member; and almost all provided training programs at the individual level and emphasised individual performance as part of organisational performance. Planning, performance measurement, client surveys, documentation, systematic reporting and analysis of findings and encouragement of best practice have all become part of the organisational conversation. Most libraries have undertaken continuous improvement strategies as part of their overall institutional framework.

Libraries continue to operate under significant pressures for accountability. The tertiary education changes mooted add to the importance of ensuring that library services meet client needs effectively and provide value for money. All libraries must operate within a quality assurance framework. Collaborative activity, an appropriate organisational culture, training of staff and an emphasis on performance measurement from the client perspective will assist libraries in ensuring they deliver services cost-effectively.  Libraries who wish to win awards and plaudits from their customers must manage their quality assurance processes effectively.

This article was first published in Incite, Jan/Feb 2015

Janine Schmidt, AM FALIA
Director, Mukurta Solutions

Friday, 13 February 2015

Learning to stand on your own two feet

This article was published in Incite, Jan/Feb 2015
By Alycia Bailey
In conversation with an older colleague, Alycia Bailey was informed she was no longer a new librarian, but a librarian toddler: still learning to walk on her own, but no longer likely to slump into a ‘death position’ if left unsupervised. Now, having completed her fifth year as a library professional, Alycia has found herself compelled to reflect on the things she learned over those short years, and to share some of her lessons learned with new librarians who are only just learning to walk.

Collect evidence

In the past two and a half years since I started at my current position, I have joined LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive) and completed a master’s research project. In the process I’ve learned the value of data. Even if you’re not studying formally, you should always be collecting data. Not just circulation statistics and door counts, but qualitative data as well. Get patron feedback about programs, write stream of consciousness notes after events or get a colleague to observe your practice and give you feedback. No matter how well you’re doing, it can always get better. Reflect on what you’ve done and how it can be improved.

Make programs interesting for you

If you’ve got to run a program while smiling and engaged for at least an hour, then it may as well be something you enjoy. My thing has been gaming. I’ve used games to encourage students to engage in critical thinking, word play and story-telling. In my master’s project I also used video games to get students interested in coding, mathematics and science. My participants could see that I was excited to be there, with them, sharing something amazing. My enthusiasm has infected them with a love of learning and makes them come back for more.

Smarter planning makes better programs

Even for regular lunchtime club meetings, I have learned to always make a short, reusable session plan. Sometimes it’s nothing more than dot points and I usually don’t bring it with me to meetings, but I find that the act of writing out a plan cements in my mind the purpose of the program and keeps me on track. Writing plans also helps you to focus your energy on what really matters and means your participants get the most out of the experience.

Get a life

When I started as a librarian, I would work all the time. I’m talking twelve hour days, skipped lunch breaks, late nights, early mornings, planning programs on my days off and checking work emails in bed. I was unhappy, tired and my work was suffering. I still work late occasionally and sometimes I skip lunch, but life is a lot more balanced and I’m better at work for it.

Alycia Bailey is librarian at St.Vincent's College, Potts Point and LARK's Treasurer.