Tag Archives: careers library

What do users want out of a website?

newwebjul14I started this journey earlier this year when we were told that we needed a new website by September.  With over a 1000 pages of web content not a mean feat!

Fortunately the web team had prepared some new templates to drag us into the mobile enabled world so we had a pretty good idea of what the website could do and the limitations.

So I asked students what they wanted….

“A website that gives us a job” was the overall response from the focus group.

We know students are focussed on the end goal and tend to miss out on the stages in between and this was held up by the focus group.  They tended to dive into the vacancy database and ignore the whole website.  (Groans!)

Basically they don’t want to read reams of information unless it’s the information they need.  This is why everyone googles – why bother reading the bits of the website you don’t need!

Management needs

It was suggested we produce content for year groups to talk to the students at their level.  Not as simple as you might think as people take decisions and need to know things at different speeds. BUT we implemented it.

The university style

Changed overnight a few months after we produced the beta version of the new website. Our templates can not replicate this style of website but we can make it look a bit closer to it by changing some navigation on the home page.

Staff needs

Information and guidance staff use the website in 1-1 interactions with students and they tend not to always be intuitive users, they learn where information lives and how to get there. Like driving the same route to work each day – changing the route tends to invoke panic.  So making any changes was not going to be popular.

So on to usability testing

We produced a beta version based on all the needs above and asked some usability testers to take a group of students and evaluate their experience.

It was pretty much what I expected – that doesn’t mean it was good, just expected!

  • Too much information
  • Change to action based navigation not year groups.
  • Change the names of things.
  • and a whole load of things that are not possible to implement in the templates we have.

Happy days!

So what next…

  1. Draft a new beta version based on student requirements and the new university style.
  2. Back to staff with some questions.  Turns out they all have different opinions, fine, that’s representative of the general population.
  3. Try to find a middle ground around what most staff and students want.
  4. Short consultation period via email (by now i’m pretty sure everyone is sick of it!)
  5. Make the changes on the live website and wait….

and then what?

  • Monitoring usage using google analytics
  • Looking at SEO

…. but in the mean time before we all get too obsessed 5 tips for librarians using web metrics is a good place to start!

 

 

 

 

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It’s oh so quiet! Time to reflect and plan.

starsIt’s the last day of opening today (although not the last working day) and it’s pretty quiet!

Time to reflect on the year so far and plan ahead.

This last year has all been about physical space.

  • The rumours of a move on the horizon, and the frantic months of planning that followed.
  • Managing expectations and the realities of the process.
  • The physical transition to a new space and understanding its benefits and limitations.
  • Working with new colleagues and new staffing structures.
  • Exploring new ideas to make students aware of the new location and what it offers.
  • Change, more changes and a few suprise changes.

Next year is all about the web and online services.

  • Producing a new website
  • Looking at digital publications ebooks vs Pdfs
  • Managing our intranet presence
  • Looking at our options for appointment booking systems and events & vacancy systems
  • Talking to our users to see what they want
  • Marketing, marketing, engagement & marketing.
  • Plus i’m sure a few more suprises.

It seems information staff are going to be very busy, plotting scheming and writing! Hopefully we will get out and about on campus and talk to students too.

Whats on your agenda for the year ahead?

Have a great break info folk.

The debrief… 6 weeks on

Overall students seem to love the look of the new office and the building we are in is a focal point on campus.

The Atrium consists of two zones: An open area filled with comfy seating and a “business” area where the services, libraries, and appointments happen. Archways lead from one to the other.

We and the students are learning how to use the two spaces effectively.

Easy wins

  • It’s easy for students to find, we don’t have to have lengthy conversations giving directions.
  • There are lots of lectures in the building and a large refectory so there is passing trade.
  • We have a display area on the ground floor for employer directories and guides – they go like hot cakes!

Challenges

  • There is nothing on the outside of the building telling students we are here so we are still relying on students seeking us out.
  • Many students don’t need to use this building.
  • We are on the 1st floor so you need to be motivated to find us.

Changesdesk

We have more involved conversations – the low desk and seating make it conducive for students to sit and chat to us.

The casual icebreaker conversations have disappeared. We no longer get masses of students coming in asking about part-time jobs and national insurance numbers.   It’s odd because we were not exactly on the main thoroughfare before (or so we thought) but it seems that casual conversations are not worth going up stairs.

We have swivel screens so we can now demonstrate the website and booking systems, it makes it so much easier to explain how to do things.

The future:

  • As the other services we share the Atrium with ramp up their offer and get into their peak seasons we are curious to see how much spin-off trade we get as a result of functional adjacency.
  • Conversations about signage both inside and outside the building are happening.  It will be interesting to see what happens if the signage is successful.  If more people on campus can see where we are, will they come?
  • We are looking at having staff on the ground floor in the information zone to tie the 2 areas together and encourage the transition upstairs or answer those passing questions that are not happening now.
  • Defining the purpose of the space – this will undoubtedly evolve over time as we try out activities and see if the open space works for group work or small workshops. In time we may even be able to book adjacent classrooms to run events.

It’s still a work in progress, learning and developing new systems and procedures but I think we have made good progress.  We are even talking about christmas decorations so looks like everyone is settling in!

Relocation, relocation, relocation

So we have finally moved into our new location on campus, the Atrium , 1st Floor University Place.

This is the careers area and library – shot past the pods used for interviews down to the careers desk. (avoiding students)

 shelving zone

As with any move these things are never simple, but we are getting there. Students seem quite impressed with our new snazzy furnishings, the word nightclub and disco keep getting used – not sure that was exactly what we were looking for, but hey!

signageCould it have something to do with the use of neon signs?

Our colour palette is black, white & grey with accent colours of blue , aqua, green and lime.  It’s actually quite tasteful.

It also lends itself to taking arty shots for fun!

cushions SONY DSCreflections

infozoneWe have also secured an information Zone on the ground floor near the welcome desk and visitors centre.

It will be interesting to see the interaction between the 2 areas.

I’ll let you know how usage and feedback is going when we have been in a bit and my back has recovered from heaving packing crates about!

It’s really happening, we are moving.

packingThe packing crates are here and we are filling them up and generally making a huge pile of boxes to go with us.

The movers come on Friday and we are aiming to open in our new space a week later so we will be working in an empty room for a week while half our staff start setting up in our new space. It’s a little scary given it’s Welcome Week  (AKA Freshers Week) next week which traditionally signals a deluge of students looking for part-time jobs.

We have a cunning plan to minimise disruption in case the builders run late (er), and are just hoping all our deliveries of guides and directories find us in our new building.

So its end of an era for us.

We have been in Crawford house since the early 1970’s and now the Information Team are flying the nest and going solo (and any other clichés you care to mention).

  • No more doing the post.
  • No more swipe barrier trying to chop people in half.
  • No more being the only ground floor office to help the lost souls on campus.
  • No more sub zero temperatures and huddling round fan heaters.

We are looking forward to:

  • A new bright airy space. (Hopefully at a temerature that sustains life!)
  • Working with new colleagues from other IAG services accross the University, a whole load of new water cooler conversations and biscuits in the kitchen emails.
  • Finding out the space works – we have absolutely no clue how students (and staff) are going to react to it.

Wish us luck!

Who moved my goal posts?

planningIn the wonderful world of Careers Information Management things are never the same 2 years running, it’s what makes it a great place to work. When it comes to making plans it can make it a little challenging!

So when we were told less than a year ago that we would be moving to a new location I never thought it would be easy.

We had a few expectations and assumptions

  1. We would not be consulted, the architect would do whatever they wanted and we would end up with an unusable space.
  2. We would not be trying to move at the busiest time of year – because that would be a bit silly.
  3. Once we had a plan it would be a simple matter of packing up and moving over.
  4. We wouldn’t move exactly as we are there would be some adaptations to make and a certain amount of slimming down of resources to fit a smaller space.
  5. We would have some say over basic things like shelving and display units.
  6. At least our information staff team have been here a while so the transition should be easier than having to train new staff.

Reality

  1. There has been loads of consultation, meetings coming out of my ears – great!
  2. We seem to have come to compromises on some things but have lost other battles. (We shall have to see how it pans out when we open.)
  3. Yes you guessed it, we are due to move around freshers week. So not busy at all !
  4. Packing is the least of our issues, we now need to rebrand, reformat and reprint over 40 publications with 1 month to go!
  5. We have had to make tough decisions on what resources to keep and how we will display them.
  6. We will have to see when we get in what shelving there is and order more if we need it, things are not set in stone and we can adapt as we go along.
  7. Two staff have left the team and we are now in the middle of recruiting for new staff with the clock ticking!

Learning outcomes

  • Get a sense of humour fast!   It’s not going to be plain sailing so just deal with it and laugh. (try not to laugh hysterically!)
  • Keep records of all correspondence so that you know who agreed to what and when.
  • It’s not going to be perfect immediately.
  • It’s not going to be like it was.
  • You are not going to please everyone.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Take small steps – you can’t do everything at once.
  • Stay positive and take your team on the journey with you.

Library Design and Space Planning for information professionals

Moving boxesSaw this event and thought i’d give it a plug.  I’d love to go but as we move into our new space that week I fear it may be a bit late! ( plus i’ll be up to my neck in cables and boxes!)

Library Design and Space Planning for information professionals

A half day event organised by the Career Development Group North Eastern Division. This event is aimed at library and information professionals from all sectors interested in library design and space planning projects. You will hear from professionals who will outline projects, cover strategic elements in re-developing library space and provide practical hints and tips to implement in the real world.

Date:     Tuesday 17th September 2013
Time:     9.30-13.05 (arrival, registration and networking from 9.30-10.00)
Cost:      £25 plus VAT = total £30

The Division is providing one free place to students, unwaged or members of CDG who live in the North East. Please see details at:
http://www.cilip.org.uk/career-development-group/divisions/north-eastern/cdg-north-eastern-news

Venue: The event will be based in Room 152, Robinson Library, Newcastle University. There is good disabled access to the library and meeting room. (Access Codes – E, W, G). The Robinson Library is marked ’35’ on the campus map http://www.ncl.ac.uk/about/visit/maps.htm

Directions to Newcastle can be found at http://www.ncl.ac.uk/about/visit/travel/

The Robinson Library is 30 minutes’ walk from Newcastle Central Railway Station, or five minutes’ walk from Haymarket Metro.

Booking: To reserve a place, please email the completed details below to elaine.andrew@northumbria.ac.uk

Booking:
Please book me …….  place(s) for this event.
Name:
Email:
Institution:
Telephone number:
Please delete as appropriate: I would like to pay by cheque or please invoice:
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Do you have any dietary requirements e.g. vegetarian, wheat free/gluten free?
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Library Design and Space Planning for information professionals

Event Programme                           Tuesday 17th September 2013

09:30 – 10:00      Arrival, registration and networking

10:00 – 10:45      Kathryn Armstrong – South Tyneside Council.

Kathryn is Libraries Manager for South Tyneside Library and Information Service. After completing her MA she moved to South Tyneside to be a Young People’s Services Librarian. After various restructures within the Council, Kathryn moved to being “Libraries Development Officer” and then Manager.

In this session Kathryn will highlight the challenges of planning for a new library in the current economic and political climate. She will outline the methods used so far in engaging a variety of stakeholders including work colleagues and the general public.

10.45-11.30                         Dr Richard Pears – Durham University

Richard works with the departments of History, Music and Law as an Academic Liaison Librarian at Durham University Library. He is the co-author of Palgrave Macmillan’s ‘Cite them Right: the Essential Referencing Guide’ and recently achieved a PhD from Newcastle University.

Richard will talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by the Bill Bryson Library’s £11 million East Wing extension, which opened in April 2012. He will also discuss the current two year refurbishment project which will improve the infrastructure in the older parts of the building.

11.30-11.45 Break including refreshments

11.45-13.00                         David Errington – Newcastle University

David Errington is Head of Learning Environment at the Robinson Library at Newcastle University.  In addition to his work in the Robinson Library, David has lectured in the Library School at Northumbria University and has been an active member of CILIP at Regional and National level for UCRG/ARLG. He has been involved in a variety of library refurbishments projects over the years. Although David’s role has a wide remit, his real interest is the changing use of space in the modern academic library.

David will be discussing the major Robinson Library 2011-12 refurbishment project as well as highlighting the important role of the Team Valley Research Reserve Storage Facility within their refurbishment project planning process. He will also address ways to engage stakeholders and ensure effect communication with users as well as colleagues in Estates Support Services sections.

13:00 – 13:05 Round up, final questions and close

13:05 – 13:25 Optional tours of the Robinson Library which includes recently refurbished Levels 3 and 4