Reblog – my talk at IAML (UK & Irl) conference

My guest post recapping my talk on my MA dissertation research on the hybrid music library at the IAML (UK & Ireland) conference has belatedly gone up on their blog. Read it here.

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IAML (UK & Irl) conference 2016 – part 2

Here is part two of my write up of the recent IAML (UK & Irl) conference. For part one click here. I will just quickly mention the two fantastic visits to Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester Central Library and its Henry Watson Music Library. I really enjoyed both visits, especially the recital by two RNCM tutors including a truly astounding Delius violin sonata (manuscript held in the RNCM Library). If you’re in Manchester, definitely visit the magnificent Central library – it was stunning! And teeming with people which was great. The music library was a dynamic place, with people practicing (out loud!) on the electric pianos. They also have a cool little performance space where there are open jamming sessions in term time.

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Credit: ‘Manchester Central Library, March 2010’ by Ricardo (Wikipedia CC BY 2.0).

  • Heather Roberts (RNCM Archivist) – ‘What makes you special: Archives and outreach’

Heather started off with the quip: ‘uniqueness and authenticity are currency’, meaning people are interested in unique and authentic content, i.e. archives and special collections. She talked about supply and demand in regard to their collaborative efforts with e.g. Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN). RNCM had the supply of archive material and DWAN had the demand and provided a platform to promote their collection. ‘Stories’ was another buzz word and Heather talked about collaborators being the gateway between your stories and the wider community. Her top tips were: think about stories in your collections not just music, and to be open to other people wanting to use your collections for various reasons (not just musical ones!).

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  • Caroline Boyd (Copyright Hub) – ‘Developments in Copyright’

The Copyright Hub is a new organisation jointly funded by the government and industry that aims to make copyright workable in the digital age by seamlessly linking people who want to use copyrighted material with the rights holders. She talked mainly about their browser plug in that uses rights holders’ metadata to connect users with copyright information and license options for the media/information. She said anyone can upload their metadata and make copyright content available in this way.

  • Stewart Parson – ‘Get it loud in libraries’

Stewart formerly of Lancashire Libraries started Get it loud in libraries when he was made redundant from his library job. The idea is to utilize libraries’ spaces for programmes, workshops and gigs. Their target audience is young people in Lancashire and they bring pop artists off the beaten track to rural areas for gigs. Responding to a question about whether their gigs boost library use/participation from this age group, he didn’t have any evidence for this but said the gigs generate good buzz and publicity for the library. An unrelated example of this from the conference was the weekly term time jamming sessions run by music student volunteers at the Henry Watson Music Library, which apparently are very successful.

IAML (UK & Irl) conference 2016 – part 1

Last month I attended what I can barely believe was my FIFTH music library conference with IAML (UK & Irl)! A short trip across the Pennines in Manchester this year, I had a great time and seem to get more jobs to do every year with my Music Libraries Trust hat on and this year I also led a ‘quick-fire’ session on professional networking. To keep the post from getting too unwieldy, I’ve split it into two. This one is on the excellent marketing session titled ‘Effective Library Marketing and Methods of Demonstrating Value.’

Neil MacInnes (Manchester Libraries) gave a talk on the marketing strategy of Manchester’s library service. We all know about their capital investment programme having seen the beautiful Manchester Central Library, but Neil said they are still actively trying to improve the service and promote what he termed their ‘universal offer.’ He made the crucial point that even though public libraries are a statutory service, it is still a ‘service of choice’ and so needs promoting to and uptake by the community.

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Pretty! Image credit: ‘Branding’ by EdgeThreeSixty TM http://www.edgethreesixty.co.uk Flickr CC license.

Neil shared their six step marketing plan: 1) Brand – for a large public library system with many branches like Manchester, consistency was key. 2) Signage – with the introduction of self service, it became even more important to have clear, concise instructional signage. Neil also emphasised having positive messages rather than loads of signs with all the things you’re not allowed to do. 3) Customer segmentation and targeting (here’s where it got a bit jargon heavy!) – they researched community trigger points, i.e. what triggers people to start using the library in Manchester, for example starting studies or having children. They also plotted heat maps of who lives where and how various age groups are concentrated around the city. All of this information then helped to inform library services. 4) Promotion, programmes and channels – this aspect of the marketing plan included running events, collaboration with local partners and wider city-wide events (e.g. Manchester Jazz Festival), and promoting the library via social media. 5) Online presence and customer journey – this involved revamping their website along usability/user experience lines, basically making it easier to do things online. 6) Review of experience, feedback and data – probably everyone does a bit of this, whether a user survey or informal chat at the counter to get feedback. Neil mentioned a survey project where they got teens to survey their peers in the library, which seemed to be an effective approach. My final impression was that even though this was quite an elaborate, multi-pronged and formal marketing plan for a very large, urban library system, there were points in each step that any library could take on board.

 

Next Penny Hicks (University of Manchester Library) shared on the topic of marketing campaigns that work and aren’t scary! She gave a bit of a marketing crash course and said marketing in a library context is about connecting with customers: finding out and supplying what they need, when they need it and supporting their work in a relevant, timely manner with appropriate training. Their marketing methodology follows this step by step process: robust research, identifying areas to change/innovate, remaining grounded in an understanding of the offer, identifying what success would look like, implementation, and evaluation. Simple, right??

She went on to give an example form Manchester University that helped flesh this out. They decided to ‘measure changes in perception’, and if I remember correctly, this is to do with figuring out if there is a gap in what library staff think students think about the library, and what students actually think about the library and whether this has changed since the last time they looked at this area. So they proceeded to do some customer journey mapping, and actually followed students around the library with a video camera as the student attempted to complete a task, such as finding a book. It turns out this simple task was far from easy, requiring much wandering around and repeatedly going back to ask directions from staff. The research prompted a painful realisation that the library needed to get back to the ‘core business,’ i.e. back to the basics of providing information that is accessible and well organised. The research resulted in changes to for example signage and more visible library staff wearing T-shirts that said “Ask me.”

Finally there was a Q&A with the panel. Neil responded to a question about promoting library services and said they’d done a campaign called ‘Meet the neighbours’, basically getting staff out of the library into the community. This was done through pop-up libraries on the high street and in businesses.

Another question about getting user feedback and survey fatigue prompted the panel to talk about strategies such as student ambassadors who can both give feedback and recruit their peers. Timing of a survey is important, e.g. don’t clash with the NSS. Penny mentioned the valuable qualitative feedback they’ve gotten from researcher groups.

So that’s your crash course in library marketing! Part 2 of the conference coming soon.

Academic Libraries Seminar 2016

I attended the Academic Libraries Seminar last Friday at University of Manchester which was part of the IAML (UK & Irl) annual study weekend (of which more to come). About 20 people were in attendance from various academic music libraries and conservatoires and now is an opportune moment to thank Geoff Thomason of Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) for organising the event! The seminar theme was library users, getting feedback from them and training them.

First up was myself giving a short talk on my dissertation research as part of my librarianship qualification at Northumbria University. I will be exploring user resource format preferences at Leeds College of Music Library and used the opportunity to start a discussion with participants about any trends they’ve noticed in their institutions in this area. Themes that came out were: music students’ format preferences are nuanced, for example CD issues are generally down, print books still preferred, and some students prefer digital scores for their portability; promotion and lecturer buy-in is a massive key to online resource success; online resources can potentially address complaints about opening hours since the virtual library is open 24/7.

Next, Anna Wright (RNCM) shared about their experience gathering user feedback via annual surveys. The current survey aims to gauge user satisfaction with library services and resources, user confidence in using the library, what type of resources they prefer and what they use from both library and, interestingly, free resources (e.g. YouTube). However the conservatoire as a whole is facing ‘survey fatigue’ and low response rates, so they are wondering how to improve this situation.

Richard Chesser (British Library) shared about their researcher training programmes. An important theme in his talk was the benefit of these programmes not only to the researchers, but also to the library since they generate evidence on user engagement and collection use, validate what they’re doing in terms of the custodianship aspect of their mission (i.e. our stuff’s being used!) and contribute to advocacy since the programmes are explicitly linked to one of the BL’s core purposes, research. The BL runs music research days for postgraduates which are very successful and intentionally made open to multi-disciplinary researchers. They also have initiated AHRC collaborative doctoral programmes, which Richard said were also a feedback exercise (finding out about current research and research methods in order to inform services) and also part of being visible and relevant.

 

Geoff Thomason (RNCM) talked about library inductions and the challenges we face in making them effective: timetabling (RNCM timetable theirs in induction week), making a good impression because it could be someone’s first visit, and what to cover when students are facing information overload. Geoff then shared an innovative approach they tried this year of using a giant-size snakes and ladders game to deliver library inductions. We also gave it a go! Geoff said gamifying their induction has been a successful experience because it got students involved when most of the other inductions had been lectures, it created a relaxed atmosphere so students contributed more especially international students, and the Q & A format provided opportunities to cover various issues, e.g. asking “Can I photocopy scores in the library?” opens it up to address a bit of copyright.

Finally Karen McAulay (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) gave a short talk about promoting collections and the idea of ‘performing your archive.’ She asked people to share examples and I’m afraid the only one I can remember in detail was Royal College of Music doing an annual concert using material from special collections and promoting is as such with the original items on display for the concert AND get this, no white gloves!

IAML (UK & Irl) conference ’15 – short post

Two weekends ago I attended the IAML (UK & Irl) annual study weekend, which you may recall me plugging in my previous post about music libraries. I went to represent Leeds College of Music and the Music Libraries Trust. I also had more jobs to do this year, namely reading reports for the College and MLT and also meeting all the MLT bursary winners, of whom there were 10!

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New Library of Birmingham

It was another great weekend with highlights including a tour of the new Library of Birmingham, updates on other new libraries (Birmingham University, The Hive, Manchester Central Library) and thinking about digital technologies – the impacts, opportunities and various projects. I will blog more in depth at some point but in the meantime you can read two posts I’ve done for the IAML (UK & Irl) blog and a multitude of others by various contributors!

Blog 1 on the Academic Music Librarians seminar

Blog 2 on the ‘New Libraries – what can we learn?’ sessions