Missing a trick? Faculty and admin staff induction
Conducting a 1-2-1 induction with a new member of faculty and talking about databases with several administrative staff who were completely in the dark about our offering has led me to question this week whether here at Judge we’re currently missing a trick when it comes to informing new (or existing) staff about our library and information services. Rather than just blogging about what I thought about this I decided to ascertain from my peers within business librarianship whether they were doing the same things as me or adopting alternative approaches. The responses I received were both interesting and illuminating…
Of the 30 or so responses I received, common themes emerged. 1-2-1 induction/initial training session with new academics and a tour of the library for those that request them seem to be the norm. The route to these sessions/tours was quite different though, being either automatically timetabled in by HR, or offered by library staff after scans of lists from HR or receiving ‘new starters’ information by email. For those faculty being offered optional (rather than timetabled) sessions this was largely coordinated via emails containing relevant links and information. It appears that take-up of this offer varies widely. Some people cited very low take-up, others cited 75%, suggesting that this may be very much dependent on choice of email wording and content.
Of the 1-2-1 session itself it seems to mainly be used to introduce the range of e-resources and bibliographic software and tools that are available, as well as being an opportunity to highlight the teaching and training on offer. Several respondents mentioned that they made a point of establishing the faculty member’s research interests ahead of time in order to tailor the session and that finance faculty appear to be more engaged and interested. Session length varies from 20 minutes to 2 hours, but the average appears to be 30-45 minutes.
I was interested to find that we are divided on the value of printed guides and handouts, some citing their value, others believing they are unread and a waste of time to produce. Having said that, those in favour stated that guides should be short and to the point.
the personal touch
Several respondents expressed the importance of making any contact with faculty as personal and warm as possible with a view to long-term professional relationships and collaboration. There was also active recognition of the fact that faculty coming away from the 1-2-1 feeling that library staff were helpful and could make their teaching and research lives easier was the most important outcome. Some respondents talked about happily knocking on faculty doors and introducing themselves, while others felt guilty for not knocking on doors or being proactive enough.
Group inductions for new staff at which library staff get a chance to introduce themselves and their services seem to occur less than 1-2-1′s. Some business librarians are also engaged in group refresher sessions for existing staff, but again in low numbers.
Most respondents do not offer inductions to admin staff as a matter of course, instead this only appears to be at the instigation of said staff member or if they are picked up on by library staff as particularly student-facing and therefore potentially useful in pointing students to what we offer. However, there was common agreement that we don’t do enough for admin staff and that, as I myself felt, we are probably are missing a trick in this regard. Some respondents described these staff as more receptive and interested than faculty, others mentioned that we could be giving them help with their day-to-day work and that they don’t know what is available or, moreover, that they are eligible to use it. This has been my experience here, with one admin staff member telling me that they had always thought “the library wasn’t for them”. I was a bit ashamed that they felt like this and I am now determined to turn that perception around by opening up and offering more to this forgotten or largely ignored user group. Not only should this assist them with their work but it should also make a difference to internal understanding of what it is we have and what it is we do – after all we can never have enough library advocates can we?
Thanks to everyone who responded to my email