Tag Archives: user support

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

 

 

 

 

Six months ago I was awarded funding from UCISA to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool. At the time I was on secondment to the IT support office at the University of York, but my previous (and now current) position was as a senior library assistant at the University Library. I was particularly interested in finding out how the two teams could work more closely together, and also how I could support colleagues in doing this. One key area I looked at when I returned from the conference was ways of merging best practice from both teams and integrating these systems to assist staff with the changes. Lending Services already had a wiki where they stored and updated information for staff. I worked with colleagues in the IT support office to develop an ITSO wiki that could be used by library and IT staff in the day to day running of the merged desk.

Social media

One of the main things I took away from the conference was how useful a resource social media can be. This usefulness took place on two levels; the first was with our interactions with users. At York we are fortunate enough to already have a communications team that look after our social media accounts. They take the time to interact with our users, but also with other universities and related services. They make sure that enquiries are answered, but they also keep the interactions fresh, funny, and relevant, which has resulted in some very positive feedback. In order to complement and promote the work our comms team are already doing, I took inspiration from one of the conference talks to focus on informing our users about the different methods of social media we use to interact with them, and how this might assist them with their studies.

The second level focused on how useful social media can be to professionals wanting to share and research new ideas in the field. During the conference, I used Twitter to disseminate my ideas and engage in debates around the subjects that were raised. I started following a range of different people in the sector, and saw the issues that were impacting on them and their users. One real benefit of social media was that it allowed me to follow themes and ideas at conferences that I was not able to attend, and find out issues that were impacting service desks from different counties as well as from a range of different sectors, from Twitter users around the world.

Collaboration

Andy Horton and Chris Rowell’s talk ‘The Twelve Apps of Christmas’ was especially interesting to me, given that I knew one of my tasks upon returning to the library would be helping with the integration of basic IT support at the library helpdesk. Their enthusiasm really inspired me, and made me assess the different training we could give to staff to help them integrate the new processes. Although we have only just started with this, the overall feedback from staff has been very positive, and we are keen to take this on board to find more ways of updating and improving training, and ensuring that it is as efficient as possible to help staff develop their skills. Collaboration was something I was very interested in, and I was surprised to see how much collaboration was already taking place, especially between library and IT departments. What I took away from the conference was that collaboration is the way forward for service desks; we strengthen each department by working together, and it was wonderful to see how many other places are already doing this.

The final major point that I took from the conference, and that has really impacted on my approach to work, was the idea that we need to celebrate our successes more. As a service desk sector, we have a tendency to focus on what we could have done better and how we can constantly improve. Whilst it is very important to ensure that we continue to progress services, it is also important to focus on what we have done well and where we are really standing out. Since returning to the library, I have worked hard to highlight times when I think that staff have been doing an exceptional, job as this motivates and encourages the whole team.

To sum up, going to the conference allowed me to look at my colleagues and really appreciate the successes we have. Looking at it from an organisational point of view, it made me assess the ways in which our different teams could work more closely together to ensure that our users get what they really need. In terms of the sector, it made me more aware of what my colleagues around the world are doing. It allowed me to share ideas with other people who are working in libraries and IT. It also made me look at the different types of service desks in education. Before  the conference, I had a tendency to focus on HE desks, but since then I have been in contact with colleagues who work in public libraries and FE colleges, looking at what they are doing and how we can work more closely together to improve the sector.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme 2018.

Using Twitter at conferences and a motivational presentation

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

CILIP 2015: connect, debate and innovate – day one

I’m lucky enough to have experience in two roles which are all about interacting with users on a daily basis, helping them connect to the information they need, and working within a close knit team to support the wider university’s needs. These two roles are as a Library Supervisor at the University of York, and my current secondment position as an IT Support Specialist. On the face of it these jobs might seem to not have much in common, however, in my experience, there are a lot of similarities between the working practices and tasks involved. After all, what librarian these days doesn’t use technology for almost every task they do?

Temple When, six months into my IT role, I was given the opportunity to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool, I was eager to attend and particularly keen to focus on sessions on collaboration between library and IT services and how they could work to support the wider university community. Having never attended before I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, but I was amazed by the variety of backgrounds of the people I met there, the sessions on offer and the broad range of specialisms all making up the information sector. My fears that as an IT Support Specialist I would be in a minority were quickly dispelled.

 

 

Using Twitter to record conference highlights and take part in discussions
As a regular user of Twitter I have been impressed by how easily it allows me to follow topics and discussion points and engage with the information community. While I have used it at previous conferences to follow tweets rather than participate, for this conference I decided to embrace it completely and see if it could be an effective method of capturing the information and my thoughts at the sessions I attended. I decided that instead of taking notes or using a voice recorder to capture events I would instead tweet my own views and actively engage with other people tweeting about similar subjects.

This did mean quite a dramatic change in my note-taking form. I was definitely of the pen and paper camp before this conference and I would take pages of notes most of which would make little sense at a later date. Twitter allowed me to cut out most of the irrelevant parts as the restrictions on characters meant I had to make my points concise. Sometimes because I was busy writing my comments I did miss a few of the speaker’s points, but I quickly picked up on these because I was following others at the conference in the same session and seeing what they tweeted. Twitter also helped to remember these points after the conference ended, as in addition to my own thoughts I also ‘favourited’ other people’s tweets and retweeted any I thought were particularly good.

Being able to instantly see what other people’s thoughts were of the sessions I was in was extremely useful, as it made me feel more involved in the whole conference and allowed me to express my thoughts and feelings on the topics, and get instantly stuck into some lively debates. I really like that Twitter allows me to get an insight into other attendees’ views. There was so much information and so many ideas being bandied around in all the sessions that at times it was easy to miss a really interesting point, but by reading other tweets and seeing what other people were retweeting I was able to examine these points in more detail. I even got an insight into what was happening in the breakout sessions I didn’t get a chance to attend. While Twitter was no replacement for being in the session itself it did give me an interesting insight into the points that others found interesting and relevant, and provided yet more people and topics to engage with and discuss.

Overall, using Twitter to capture my thoughts on the conference felt like a completely different experience to more traditional note taking, and one I found enjoyable. It helped to keep me on point and really allowed me to focus on what I found relevant and interesting. Although there may have been times when I missed some points I feel overall I gained more than I lost. It meant continued and better interactions with others in the community; I was starting conversations and debates that would continue long after the sessions had finished.

Conference themes: connect, debate and innovate
ConferenceThe conference theme was “connect, debate and innovate” and I really felt it delivered on these three aspects. I went away feeling inspired and eager to put the ideas I’d heard about into practice. Several of the speakers focused on topics about collaboration and the power of the community as well as celebrating success and a central message from many of the presentations I attended was that if we work with others we can achieve great things.

I didn’t agree with every point every speaker made, and I do wish that some libraries embraced the similarities they have with IT staff and the brilliant impact that technology can have if they work together more. However, I’m not going to pick flaws in presentations or focus on the negatives as I felt a key message from the conference was the need to focus on the positives within the profession, and that instead of focusing on our own narrow specialisms or points of view, we need to encourage each other and be positive in focusing on the many similarities between information professionals and our shared goal of helping the end user.

From the very first presentation I attended I felt filled with confidence that this was a conference that would focus on collaboration and celebration. R. David Lankes’ keynote ‘An action plan for world domination through librarianship’ was funny, moving and full of optimism. It is hard to express the feelings of the people in the room when he was speaking but he captivated the audience and made everyone look at their roles in different ways.

A strong theme throughout his presentation was collaboration, with other information professionals, with our users and people in other sectors. Rather than looking inwards information professionals should share and celebrate their diversity. Together we are strong and we can and should do great things for our community. This was a theme that would be picked up many of the breakout sessions and I will explore this theme in more depth in my second blog post.

He continued with this upbeat theme by emphasising that what we do matters, we are a power for change and we need to seize that power and use it. The information sector is changing at such a fast pace and sometimes we need to take a step back and celebrate our successes. The services we offer can spark knowledge but they are not knowledge, it is the information professional that helps turn that spark into something more.

At the end of the presentation I left the hall feeling ready to conquer the world. I later tweeted @rdlankes to ask if he would Skype me and give me a motivational speech each day before work. I still haven’t had a tweet back but his inspirational presentation can be heard here.

Summary
This was a brilliant conference with great key messages that I feel are really relevant to the profession today. We are all having to do more with less and by working with colleagues in other areas we can show how important our services are. We also need to be able to embrace new technologies and find ways to get feedback from our users without constantly sending them surveys.  In my next blog post I’ll focus in more detail on two of the sessions that really show how collaboration and gathering our users views can be done simply, but effectively and in a way that embraces the diverse range of talents available in the sector.

CILIP 2016 is on 12-13 July in Brighton.