Information Online 2007 – Day 1 Second Session

Katrina Hughes shared the results of a worldwide survey of hardcopy versus electronic resources in libraries. She had 1653 responses, including 639 from Australia and 544 from the USA – the rest came from 55 different countries.

The results were similar for all locations (Oz, US and world). To sum up briefly:
– libraries are still collecting both (80-90%+)
– because they are client preferred or packaged that way
– less than half of the libraries have a policy to help decide on which form if
limited to one. But if have to choose, electronic wins over
harcopy, in most, but not all countries.
– main reasons include ease of access, cost, clients needs and client preferences, but not as the same priorities in different countries.

The 3 main reasons for still using hardcopy – cost, ease of use or client preference and access issues. Something to think about, when considering our users demographics.

James Robertson from StepTwo design spoke on Intranets as Business tools. He went through the evolution of an intranet, the same pattern of which has been repeated in intranet development worldwide.

1. Born – comes out of a good idea and it begins.
2. Rapid organic growth – grows fast and haphazardly and as a result becomes difficult to manage or find things. Most info is published because it might be of use to someone, although 10% is vanity publishing. Common problems emerge, including navigation, findability, no organisational recognition, lack of use.
3. Redesign – to get it used, the intranet is redesigned and relaunched. This improves use, but only for a time and it eventually drops back again. Several redesigns and relaunches can occur in an attempt to boost use.
4. Usability and Information architecture comes into play then, so that the intranet team understands how people use it and how it should be set up. Another redesign and relaunch is the result, which promotes short terms use but again tapers off.
5. Useable but not useful. The intranet can now be used, but isn’t because it isn’t useful. It doesn’t contain the content that people need to do their job on a daily basis. This is where the staff are then consulted for their input on content, through interviews, observations etc. The end, to deliver an intranet that meets those needs.
6. That’s when it becomes a business tool, not just a publishing platform. The intranet will prosper whenit is tied directly to the way people do their work.

So the Intranet should not be seen as an internal website, but rather as a core part of business, with activities that are targeted to deliver the greatest value and to build momentum. These actitivities are based on organisational targets and constraints and should be delivered on regular basis, like software patches and upgrades (ie. Intranet 2.01 for a minor change, 2.1 for a major, 3.0 as an overhaul.) Its about an upward spiral, deliver a little, gain support, deliver some more…..

Lisa Tyson from University of Western Sydney spoke on librarians and IT staff and how they have to work together. Although they work on the same result, they come from differing views, library staff from client to system, IT from system to client. Their common goal is to provide format independent information to location independent users. Even if the library has an IT dept, library staff still have to have some IT skills, due to client expectations, prevalence of online content, ever improving ILMS’s, federated search and google addiction. The client expects the first person they talk to will be able to help them.

Identification of IT skill is mostly done inhouse, there is no professional skills list that covers IT related skills for librarians. UWS does an annual in-house skills audit that examines this amongst other skills. It also assists with training development. Developed inhouse, using Access and email, it personalises to each position, each set of questions asked from a bank of 130 questions. It involves some tech skills to set up, but clear instructions on how to do this are also sent. Of 120 staff, only 5 needed help to do this. Questions are reviewed after each audit and there is a sliding scale for assessment. The staff member can comment and on completion, is sent to their supervisor for comment, before being sent centrally to be collated. Each staff member gets the results of their audit, a copy is also sent to the supervisor, so that they can coordinate training requirements. A list of training options is also available so they know where they go to from there with their training needs.

We need library staff who can serve the client and can talk to IT staff about theat need.

And that’s just the morning session!