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We went. We saw. We did.

It seems such a long time ago when my SG Library colleague Alan Aitken and I headed down to Internet Librarian International on 29th October last year.

So why am I only mentioning it now? Well, I personally took a lot away from the 2 day event, and decided to keep my blogging tinder dry until I was able to report on developments our Library had made as a result of the conference.

Overall, I came away enthused at all the stories of customer focussed innovations the presenting libraries shared and discussed. Although most were FE or HE libraries, much of what they are doing could be applied to a government library such as ours. That is to say, the use of (often free) technologies to deliver services and foster the sharing of knowledge. All done within tight budgets and limited resources.

The development of smarter working through collaboration across the Scottish Government (SG) and beyond to the Scottish public sector is a key part of our library’s work. So for me, the opening keynote struck a chord as summarized below:

Stop lending and start sharing
R. David Lankes (@rdlankes), Syracuse University School of Information Studies Director, Information Institute of Syracuse.

David’s premise is the more you lend, the less you have. The more you share, the more you have. He argues librarians should be the catalysts for such collaboration, as we’re already thinking like this. Librarians have moved on from being merely ‘book collectors’ to continually using and upgrading to the most relevant tools and platforms to meet our users’ information needs.

Libraries should be promoted and seen as the platform/space where sharing of information is enabled – community spaces, either physical or online.

I was encouraged that the other libraries represented at the conference also create and deliver extensive training programmes tailored to their users.  As part of our planned training programme we created and delivered a series of information events in 6 SG buildings in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Livingston around sourcing and sharing information – Source & Share. We’ve even had to put on extra events to meet demand! This quote from an attendee sums up what we were aiming to achieve:

“I found it all very helpful and is part of drive to expand my ability to learn as much as i can about my policy areas in the most efficient way.”

So what else can we do to take the Library to our customers? The Library continues to be a contributor to a range of information events within the SG. Most recently an Information Fair in St Andrew’s House. We’re also planning to re-introduce our ‘information surgeries’ in public areas across main SG buildings.

Learning Fair
St Andrew’s House Learning Fair (24/04/13)

What other learning from the conference has the SG Library put into practice?

1. As we are a service for SG staff , we’ve added a Tweet to our @scotgovlib Twitter account directing readers to the library topic on the SG’s Yammer. This is because we will use Yammer to:

  • Give delegates the chance to carry on with their learning from our courses
  • Nurture conversations with our users

2. We have published our service standards on our Library intranet homepage.

3. We launched a daily round-up of tweets selected by the Library from the Scottish Government and Scottish public bodies and on Scottish Independence using

4. We provided links to relevant Civil Service Learning on the Library’s eLearning intranet page.

5. We promoted our version of a ‘Library Survival Guide’. The conference made me realize how useful this was, and our version – our ‘Welcome!’ email flyer has now been distributed across the SG via Yammer.

Of course, there’s always more to be done:

6. Use online polling in our courses. We are planning to use web conferencing to make our courses available to more SG staff, and to use the online polling this technology offers to help deliver tailored training.

7. Make more use of video/visual tools for short library guides. This was a repeated message from the conference, supported by evidence showing instructional learning is best delivered via visual than printed media.  Though we have made a start by creating a 10 minute Library tour for SG staff.  The tour is a narrated presentation on the SG’s intranet demonstrating how SG staff can access our key services.

For me, the litmus test for any event or meeting is if I can apply or deliver any learning from it. Was Internet Librarian International worth going to? Certainly! I plan to return, and recommend it to any librarian wishing to develop their service.

You can see my conference tweets, follow ILI on Twitter or join the conversation at #ili2013.

Paul Gray
May 16, 2013