UNSW Library's outreach librarian service: what they need before they want it!
At the end of 2006 the UNSW UNSW University of New South Wales (Australia)
UNSW Unidentified Swallow
UNSW United Nations Scholars' Workstation (Yale University) Library restructured its five special libraries into a new division called the Information Services Department The Information Services Department (ISD) (Traditional Chinese: 政府新聞處; Simplified Chinese: 政府新闻处 . It was a radical restructure and provides a new model through which the Library delivers services in both the physical and online environments in a flexible and proactive manner. A pivotal role within this new structure is the Outreach Service delivered by a team which has primary responsibility for developing strong relationships with Faculties and Research Centres. Each faculty has been assigned a contact librarian who is available to provide information, organise service delivery, give presentations, listen to concerns and work through issues in relation to library services and content. By arranging one-on-one consultations or calls with the academy, attending School meetings and other special faculty meetings and giving presentations to groups of academics, close relationships are fostered between the Library and the academy so that the Library can better align its services and content to the UNSW research and teaching cycles. Benefits of the Outreach Service are outlined here.
Tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-stage, third level education, or higher education, is the educational level following the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school, secondary school, or gymnasium. in Australia has been undergoing fundamental change since the early 1990s with the release of the Dawkins Report on Higher Education and the subsequent restructuring of the tertiary education sector. Australia saw the disappearance of separately established Colleges of Advanced Education (CAEs) and their merger with existing universities and the upgrade of some stand-alone CAEs to university status.
Federal government funding, although increasing in real terms, has continued to decline over this period as a percentage of the total revenue sources of universities. It now hovers around 40% with 60% coming from private sources, including student fees. This corporatisation of higher education has compelled universities to adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to revenue raising with intense marketing campaigns for students both nationally and internationally, and created a drive to secure revenue from new sources.
Universities must now compete with each other for limited government funding, as well as for funding available from the private sector. Students, both local and international, are a commodity with which to increase funding and research kudos. So too are the academic staff whose teaching and research skills are in heavy demand by universities. The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Initiative (www.arc.gov.au/era/) has added to the competition amongst universities for prized researchers whose research projects can bring in valuable research dollars which sustain and enhance the research profile of the university.
Universities are moving toward an outcomes-based environment where attracting top students and academics raises the profile of the institution and produces the high quality outputs so necessary for attracting funding. The more collegial col·le·gi·al
a. Characterized by or having power and authority vested equally among colleagues: "He . . . and cooperative aspects of inter-university relationships are being replaced by a more competitive environment.
Information technology has altered the delivery of services in academia. More online delivery and less face-to-face learning is now common at university. The academy can communicate instantly with peers in other institutions; exchange research findings; publish in open access repositories and open access journals; and teleconference overseas. Libraries are increasingly faced with stiff competition from 'disruptive technologies' such as Google, wikis See wiki. , blogs, MySpace and Facebook; they are no longer the first port of call for researchers and students seeking information.
The economic rationalism Economic rationalism is an Australian term in discussion of microeconomic policy, applicable to the economic policy of many governments around the world, in particular during the 1980s and 1990s. that has characterised these times has also affected the University Library at the University of New South Wales The University of New South Wales, also known as UNSW or colloquially as New South, is a university situated in Kensington, a suburb in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. (UNSW), with a static budget from 2004 to 2006, then an 8.3% cut to its budget in 2007 followed by a slight increase in 2008. The perception of the Library as the 'heart of the institution' which was common 20 years ago is sadly no longer the case. University management commonly perceives the Library as a physical space, largely supporting teaching and the undergraduate community. Moreover the Library's strategic goals are sometimes seen as not relevant to the institution with little 'visible' impact resulting from its service delivery. Hence the University executive team could understandably come to regard the library as just one of many competing cost centres.
UNSW: new directions
Professor Hilmer was appointed as Vice Chancellor vice chancellor
n. Abbr. VC
1. A deputy or an assistant chancellor in a university.
2. A deputy to or a substitute for a head of state or an official bearing the title chancellor.
3. in late 2005 and entered with a new and clearly articulated vision for UNSW. This vision revolves around emphasising the distinctiveness of UNSW, developing existing strengths in the technical and professional disciplines, and building research performance to improve the national and international profile of UNSW, to attract top researchers and, of course, the concomitant funding to support their research endeavours.
As the University refocuses on its traditional research strengths, resources are being shifted to high priority areas such as cancer research, photovoltaics, water conservation and targeted areas in medicine and science. Support for 'research active' members of the academy is to be generated by the diversion of funding away from services and facilities provided by general staff.
UNSW is focusing on improving the performance of its managers so that it can more readily attain its strategic goals within tight budgets. This goal has impacted the Library, with all managers and team leaders required to attend courses in management literacy. Moreover, a Balanced Scorecard Balanced Scorecard
A performance metric used in strategic management to identify and improve various internal functions and their resulting external outcomes. The balanced scorecard attempts to measure and provide feedback to organizations in order to assist in implementing methodology has been introduced in the Library with service delivery clearly outlined together with accountabilities and performance measures to achieve strategic objectives. Each member of staff is required to contribute to their respective team plans and to prepare an individual career development plan with defined actions and targets, all supporting the overriding objectives of the Library, which in turn are aligned to the University's strategic objectives.
In terms of total Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant Funding, UNSW is currently in 5th place amongst the Group of Eight universities (1). The strategic objective of the university is to increase its placing to one of the top three universities, i.e. joining ANU Anu (ā`n), ancient sky god of Sumerian origin, worshiped in Babylonian religion. and Sydney. Library senior management also envisions a future where the Library will be regarded as one of the top three services provided to the University.
Previous library structure
The previous model consisted of five semi-autonomous libraries: Arts & Social Sciences; Physical Sciences; Biomedicine biomedicine /bio·med·i·cine/ (bi?o-med´i-sin) clinical medicine based on the principles of the natural sciences (biology, biochemistry, etc.).biomed´ical
1. ; Law and the College of Fine Arts
The College of Fine Arts (COFA) is the creative arts faculty of the University of New South Wales and is located on Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney, Australia. (COFA COFA College of Fine Arts (College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia)
CofA Certificate of Analysis
CofA Coat of Arms
COFA Compact of Free Association
CofA Commonwealth of Australia ), together with a number o! units such as the User Services Department (Circulation and Shelving shelv·ing
1. Shelves considered as a group.
2. Material for shelves.
3. An incline; a slope.
1. material for shelves
2. ), Online Services Department (Homepage, Web interfaces, and Electronic Reserve). The model was designed prior to the advent of technology, when the library operated as a physical space; for its time it was innovative and highly responsive to user needs.
UNSW Library was an hierarchical organisation where each library had its own manager, deputy and varying levels and numbers of support staff. It was a model that could be characterised as hierarchy-driven amongst the disparate units as opposed to a team-based approach that is now more favoured in contemporary organisational theory and best practice.
Over time the plethora of special libraries and discrete units resulted in discontinuity dis·con·ti·nu·i·ty
n. pl. dis·con·ti·nu·i·ties
1. Lack of continuity, logical sequence, or cohesion.
2. A break or gap.
3. Geology A surface at which seismic wave velocities change. of service delivery, owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.
owing to prep → debido a, por causa de the semi-autonomous nature of the bodies concerned. One library, for example, was strong on online delivery of information literacy Several conceptions and definitions of information literacy have become prevalent. For example, one conception defines information literacy in terms of a set of competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and programs whilst another emphasised face-to-face contact and yet another lagged in both areas.
Overall the Library was largely conceived of as a physical space and considerable staff time was consumed in servicing five reference and four circulation desks. Both then and now Library stakeholders Stakeholders
All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government. have largely moved into the world of cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace. , diminishing the importance of the physical library. Google, wikis, ipods, and chat rooms are the spaces our customers are increasingly occupying in order to fulfil their information needs.
UNSW Library's response
In an effort to provide a more flexible, responsive and efficient library service the Library created a radical new model that is changing the way information services See Information Systems. are planned, delivered and measured. Critical to this end it is redefining its primary role, core business and perceived relationships with the UNSW community. It is a structure through which the Library delivers services in both the physical and online environments in a flexible and proactive manner, so that if strategic university priorities change, it can pivot, reposition and respond.
The five libraries and specialised units were collapsed into three service points: the Main Library; the Freehills Law Library on the lower campus and the COFA Library in Paddington. This rearrangement re·ar·range
tr.v. re·ar·ranged, re·ar·rang·ing, re·ar·rang·es
To change the arrangement of.
re releases staff in the Academic Services Unit (ASU ASU Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
ASU Appalachian State University
ASU Arkansas State University
ASU Angelo State University
ASU Alabama State University
ASU Australian Services Union ), Service Innovation Unit (SIU SIU Southern Illinois University
SIU Seafarers International Union
SIU Special Investigations Unit
SIU Schiller International University
SIU Special Investigative Unit
SIU Salem International University
SIU Societá Italiana di Urologia ) and Service Development Unit (SDU SDU State Disbursement Unit (child support enforcement)
SDU Service Data Unit
SDU Staff Development Unit
SDU Social Development Unit
SDU Standard Dial-Up
SDU Sustainable Development Unit
SDU Service Delivery Unit ) to concentrate on services and support for the academic and research communities.
The new structure provides:
* increased efficiency and better utilisation of resources
* reduction in duplication of effort
* increased sharing of resources
* ability to create standard levels of service, to service the different disciplines within a consistent and shared UNSW Library
* a better organised front-of-house model, releasing staff currently in special libraries to concentrate on academic outreach and support.
Information Services Department (ISD See IDD. ) is responsible for the development and delivery of services that allow users to reach their academic goals. ISD has moved to an integrated model of teams focused on a service cycle, with the following functions:
1. SIU keeps abreast of international best practice and developments in technology to ensure that the Library's services are efficient and appropriate. The Unit is responsible for the definition of services, and the development and management of measures so that the Library is able to determine what services are being used and what outcomes are being achieved through their use. In addition, the Unit receives feedback from the community and makes recommendations to modify, upgrade or cease services as required. This feedback comes from a variety of areas but primarily through the Outreach Team and Faculty Committee feedback. The managers of SIU and ASU as well as the Director of ISD sit on various faculty-based committees at a wide range of levels.
2. SDU modifies and creates content to support the range of services provided by the library and is responsible for the process, structure and documentation around each service. This unit develops online services, carries out system testing (testing) system testing - (Or "application testing") A type of testing to confirm that all code modules work as specified, and that the system as a whole performs adequately on the platform on which it will be deployed. as required and manages the Library's online presence.
3. ASU informs the academic community of the services available from the library. Feedback is generated from Outreach conversations or as a response to a service being delivered. Feedback is also picked up by SIU for consideration. Each faculty together with the Research Centres and the University's Units (the Learning Centre, Graduate Research School and Learning & Teaching Unit) has been assigned Outreach Librarians who are available to provide information, organise service delivery, give presentations, listen to concerns and work through issues that may exist within a faculty in relation to the Library.
This cycle is represented in Figure 1.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Enter the Outreach Librarian
The primary role of the Outreach Librarian is that of relationship manager.
The Outreach Team is responsible for building ongoing relationships with the academic and research community, including the Higher Degree Research students. How is this done? On a daily basis members of the Outreach Team arrange for individual consultations (outreach calls) with academics; they give group presentations relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc new content or services, and attend school and/or special faculty meetings. There is an individual performance target of 12 calls per week and all visits and conversations are documented within 72 hours of the visit. Reports are read and discussed by the team with their managers and used as a basis for strategy making. Ongoing two way communication is at the heart of the relationship between the librarians and the academy.
A toolkit has been created for and by team members and contains content to be used for specific purposes. Elements in the kit are designed to provide diverse practical techniques for delivering 'value propositions' (features and benefits statements around specific services) to stakeholders. Promotional copy, explanations of services, call guidelines, conversations and even scripts for 'cold calls' or difficult situations (for example where a service has been withdrawn) are some of the tools within the kit that facilitate and enhance communication.
Issues and concerns raised by the academy during calls or at school meetings are recorded and followed up by the Outreach Librarian. Some issues require escalation to other units or departments to provide solutions within a designated timeframe. The Outreach Librarian's personalised service means that he/she is the primary contact for the academic or researcher requiring solutions for information concerns.
Understanding and acknowledging the academic's content requirements is another aspect of the role. Suggestions for new content are relayed to the Collection Development Team which has overall responsibility for collection development. Each Outreach Librarian has an Academic Services counterpart with whom they work closely to build a collection that will meet the learning and teaching and research needs of the academy.
The Outreach Team seeks to identify opportunities for the delivery of new services and relays these suggestions back to SIU for consideration. Team members themselves can also propose new services based on their understanding of the needs of the faculty.
Selling or promotion of the Library is a major part of this role and the Outreach Librarians have all undertaken beginners and advanced professional 'selling impact' courses to enhance their communication skills and to heighten their awareness of creating strategic opportunities to promote library services.
Promotional copy is developed by the Service Development Unit, and messages are delivered in a style that directly relates the benefits of the service to the user. We do not 'describe' our services nor do we provide details around internal processes. Our promotional literature is designed to heighten awareness of the services the Library can deliver that will assist the academy to meet their specific needs.
Being able to articulate a concise overview of the 'state of the faculty' at all times is also incumbent upon the Outreach Librarian since it is important to keep management informed of key issues in the academy so the Library can align its services and content to current teaching and research requirements. Developing such a close awareness of requirements also contributes to the outreach penetration rate by giving the librarian first hand knowledge of their 'cultural' and/or client market and hence assists with developing effective strategies to promote the Library's value.
A voyage of discovery
Most faculties are using the physical library less and less. Scholars are increasingly accessing the Library's electronic content from their desktops. Library activity statistics for 2006 to 2008 reflect the downward trend.
Academics frequently fail to recognise that the content they are accessing is provided by the Library, because they are accessing it directly from a web portal See portal. such as Google Scholar This article or section contains information about computer software currently in development.
The content may change as the software development progresses. or PubMed rather than from the Library website.
Outreach Librarians have also discerned that many academics have a low awareness of library services and content. Such low awareness applies not only to new services developed by the Library such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) A syndication format that was developed by Netscape in 1999 and became very popular for aggregating updates to blogs and the news sites. RSS has also stood for "Rich Site Summary" and "RDF Site Summary. feeds for new book titles, but also to longstanding services such as research consultations, online information skills tutorials, online discipline-specific subject guides, purchase request forms for new content, and off-campus user services where students and staff based in hospitals or research centres may have library content directly delivered to them.
It appears that the academy's 'value perception' of the Library's services has diminished in recent years. It is now the role of the Outreach Librarian to facilitate the repositioning repositioning Laparoscopic surgery The changing of a Pt's position during a procedure to improve access or visualization of the operative field, which may be linked to complications, as it changes anatomic planes of operation. Cf Laparoscopic surgery. of the Library from what is regarded as a 'good idea' to a critical service centre.
The reception and perception of the Outreach Team has varied amongst the faculties and schools due to their different cultures, content usage, publication patterns, and different teaching and research needs. By developing good communication with their respective faculties Outreach Librarians ensure that the Library's services are aligned to their specific research needs, and services are marketed to each faculty in language tailored to their 'research culture'.
Outreach penetration into the faculties and research centres has reached almost 100% with 2,835 individual visits (calls) made to academics from January 2007 to April 2009 and 349 faculty meetings attended and 323 presentations delivered. It is a significant feat never before realised at UNSW.
Overall feedback in Outreach call reports indicates a positive acceptance of the service by the academy.
'Action requests' received by Outreach from January 2007 to April 2009 total 10,056 and the number of requests fulfilled totals 9,520. An action request is defined as any request from an academic for further information about a service, a request for help in accessing content, and suggestions for new services. Outreach Librarians are becoming a significant point of reference within the faculties.
New services have been introduced as a result of this new dialogue. An Academic Service Point has been established at the enquiries desk where academics who visit the physical library with a query or concern are referred to an Outreach Librarian who seeks to provide a solution within 15 minutes of his/her arrival.
Another new service is a Library mentoring program for Higher Degree Research (HDR (1) (High Data Rate) A wireless data technology from QUALCOMM that provides up to a 2.4 Mbps data rate in a standard 1.25MHz CDMA voice channel. HDR can be used to enhance data capabilities in existing cdmaOne networks or in stand-alone data networks. ) students, which has been introduced to build connections between researchers and the content they require to complete their dissertations on time. The service was introduced in an effort to increase on-time completions and retention rates amongst this cohort since Government funding for HDRs is dependent on both timely completion and high retention rates. The service also aims to increase student satisfaction and lessen the feelings of isolation experienced by higher degree researchers who do not have regular contact with the university community in the same way as coursework students. Outreach Librarians contact new HDR students to establish a relationship, arrange individual calls, present at student inductions or research seminars and keep them regularly informed of services and new content. From September 2007 to April 2009, 2,002 new HDRs have been personally contacted by Outreach Librarians, 205 individual calls made and 997 action requests taken.
ERA has generated an avalanche of requests relating to publishing and measuring individual research impact. The Service Innovation Unit formed a Bibliometrics Bibliometrics is a set of methods used to study or measure texts and information. Citation analysis and content analysis are commonly used bibliometric methods. While bibliometric methods are most often used in the field of library and information science, bibliometrics have wide Working Group which developed a new service to fulfil this need. The Research Impact Measurement Service includes a research support webpage in the form of a Research Impact Subject Guide; delivers H-Indices (2), Research Impact Statements, Publication Activity Reports, Research Trends Reports, Journal Impact Statements and Grant Application Statements to faculty, schools and individuals.
Outreach has been heavily involved in promoting the benefits of these new services to the research community via calls and presentations at school meetings, bringing back suggestions from the academy that have directly contributed to the creation of new research support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services , and generally aligning the Library's services to the strategic research objectives of the University.
The Faculty of Medicine is a good example of successful outreach. Medical staff and HDRs who have had contact with their Outreach Librarian appreciate having someone who is closely connected to the faculty and understands and supports their teaching and research needs.
The Faculty increasingly approaches the Medical Outreach Librarian for advice on how to get the most out of new services such as the Library's open access repository called UNSWorks. Unfamiliar content such as the Embase Pharmacology pharmacology, study of the changes produced in living animals by chemical substances, especially the actions of drugs, substances used to treat disease. Systematic investigation of the effects of drugs based on animal experimentation and the use of isolated and Database was promoted to the Pharmacology Department, and staff are now promoting it to their students and incorporating it into an information-seeking tutorial that is run within the department. Many off-campus staff and students who were unfamiliar with the service are now actively engaged with it.
Gaining feedback and finding solutions to problems is an important part of the role of an Outreach Librarian. Poor quality imaging in a number of medical electronic journals was escalated to the publisher for re-imaging RSS feeds for new books inform medical staff and students of new additions to the collection. Feedback from the medical academy that the Clinical Sciences RSS feed Summaries of Web site content that are published in the RSS format for download. See RSS. was too broad has resulted in new RSS feeds for specific areas such as psychiatry and paediatrics. Library responsiveness demonstrates to faculty that their feedback is appreciated and that the Library is willing to tailor its services to their specific needs.
Over 200 H-Indices have been calculated to date for medical staff and the requests are rising dramatically for this product, while numerous Publication Activity Reports have been compiled for particular schools and research centres.
The Outreach service has also raised the level of contact with Clinical School staff. The Medical Outreach Librarian now attends Clinical School Executive meetings, and this has raised library awareness of issues affecting our remote users who are either disconnected or feel personally isolated from Library services.
Threats to establishing effective and long-term relationships with the academy can come from academic turnover, changes in heads of school where one head may be more sympathetic to the service whilst another is less receptive, academics turning to their social networking See social networking site.
social networking - social network spaces to share research-based information rather than to Library content, and the ever present competition with Web 2.0 technologies.
Nevertheless, the past two and half years have seen rapid growth in Outreach services with the academy reporting long-term benefits for learning, teaching and research outcomes.
As the Outreach service continues to evolve, more in-depth partnerships with faculty are developing. Academics are coming to view their Outreach Librarian as the first point of contact when they need library support. Outreach now has a regular presence not only at School meetings, but at Faculty Board, Education and Research Committees. Outreach Librarians are listed on faculty websites and included at times in important internal school correspondence. While Outreach Librarians develop their selling, persuasion and negotiating skills it is anticipated that further opportunities will be created to enhance the uptake of Library content and services and to provide even greater feedback for the development of new services or the modification of existing ones. As the academy becomes more informed of library services and more engaged with the 'value' provided by the library, it is anticipated that they will better inform the undergraduate community and will be better supported in their research endeavours.
To be able to introduce new services such as an outreach service a library must have a flexible organisational model in place which focuses on a service cycle that supports the academic and research communities.
Outreach is NOT a liaison service. Instead it is a full-time selling and relationship-building service, systematically delivered by a team dedicated to promoting library services and content to defined user cohorts, namely the academic/researcher and HDR communities. To gain greater engagement with library services and content the Outreach Team must know the 'situation', i.e. each academic's teaching and research profile, ascertain their content needs to support teaching and research outcomes, intimately know their individual issues or concerns around library services and provide solutions to better align services to support their needs. Only by systematically building relationships on a one-on-one basis and delivering the features and benefits of services during calls can the library's operational goals be achieved. It takes considerable time and skill to move through the four stages of selling value: Meet and greet; Establish credibility; Seek opportunities; and Provide solutions.
The outstanding success of the Outreach Service has led to better awareness and greater engagement with library services, the acquisition of new content and the development of new services such as the Research Impact Measurement Service to support research outcomes. Undergraduate students are not overlooked in this relationship building cycle with the academy and HDR students; rather a better informed academy will themselves deliver library content at the right time and in the right place to support the learning outcomes of this student cohort.
Manuscript received December 2007, revised 2009. This is a refereed paper.
Drummond, R. and Wartho, R.M. 2009, 'RIMS: The Research Impact Measurement Service at the University of New South Wales', Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 40 (2): 76-87
(1) Adelaide, Australian National University, Melbourne, Monash, Queensland, Sydney, UNSW, Western Australia Western Australia, state (1991 pop. 1,409,965), 975,920 sq mi (2,527,633 sq km), Australia, comprising the entire western part of the continent. It is bounded on the N, W, and S by the Indian Ocean. Perth is the capital.
(2) Citation-based indicators of authors' impacts in their disciplines.
Neil Binsch is Outreach Team Leader, UNSW Library in Sydney. He established the outreach service described in this paper. His background is in university, law and special libraries. Nell may be contacted at email@example.com
Kate Dunn is Outreach Librarian to the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW Library. She has worked in hospital and medical school libraries in the UK and in 2006 achieved chartered status with CILIP CILIP Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). Kate's email address See Internet address. is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table 1. Library statistics 2006-2008 Access Counts 2006 2007 2008 Loans 979,629 761,675 702,820 Gate statistics 2,402,383 2,174,814 1,955,973 Simple reference n/a 73,078 105,621 Advanced reference n/a 4,552 4,191 Web visits 1,761,125 1,713,360 1,867,444 Webpages visited 13,100,265 11,554,607 13,054,058