Outcomes from ICML+EAHIL2017 workshop

At ICML+EAHIL2017 we facilitated a workshop called Cooperation and benchmarking – finding the value and impact together.

We invited the participants to take part in our benchmarking project. We wanted them to help us to identify more future oriented indicators* and also to discuss how — or if — benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship. The goal of the workshop was to find some new and exciting ideas to take further. We used brainwriting as a tool to find and refine the ideas.

working

Preparations the day before.

The first part of the session was spent on identifying new ideas for indicators to help measuring impact and value for international (health) library benchmarking.

The best ideas for indicators — quotations from post-it notes — from this brainwriting sessions were:

  • Number of high “grade” student essays/exam papers in relation to librarian time spent teaching/tutoring
  • How has the literature search been used to change practice?
  • Impact on national health policies index/indicator
  • When host organisation cites the library’s contribution in press releases or publicity
  • What is the new role of a librarian? Non-traditional work
  • Publications from the faculty; visibility in altmetrics
  • Can the customer get the grant he/she applies
  • Time saved by faculty e.g. lecture writing, student remediation
  • Proportion of knowledge syntheses that reach publication
  • Increase in application usage after a conference
  • Chocolate/biscuits/cards — how many gifts (you get from customers)
interactive workshop

Identifying new indicators

During the second part of the session the participants discussed how (or if) benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship. There were five questions and the participants came up with lots of ideas and then voted for the ones that they liked best. Here are the ideas and proposals that were most popular — again quotations from post-it notes:

1. How can benchmarking provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship?

  • Develop indicators which are clearly articulated and detailed to enable consistent application across different services.

2. How can cooperation and benchmarking be seen as research activities?

  • Will help develop “industry standards” to be adopted by the profession.

3. How can cooperation and benchmarking be used for measuring the impact of libraries and librarians?

  • It will give you “evidence” by comparing both qualitative and quantitative measures.

4. How to inspire staff for change?

  • By empowering them, trusting them, and giving them freeway to make decisions.

5. Something else?

  • More national and international collaboration.
WOWs

The best ideas

We are very grateful for all the participants for working hard and being so active. We hope everyone got something to bring back, some food for thought, found new connections and were able to extend their professional network.

* ISO 11620 (2014) definition of indicator: Expression used to characterize activities both in quantitative and qualitative terms in order to assess the value of the activities characterized, and the associated method.

Benchmarking workshop in Dublin

ICML+EAHIL2017 Wednesday 14th June, 2017 15:00-16:30 Workshop 5  — Cooperation and benchmarking – finding the value and impact together.

In this workshop we invite the participants to take part in a benchmarking project of three health libraries. We want you to help us to identify more future oriented indicators* and also to discuss how — or if — benchmarking can provide tools for creating evidence base for health librarianship. The goal of the workshop is to find some new and exciting ideas to take further. We will use different brainwriting tools to find and refine the ideas.

postits

What is brainwriting

Brainwriting is an idea-generating method that involves the participants in a group activity. In the more familiar brainstorming a group generates creative ideas verbally, on the other hand brainwriting enables the group to generate ideas and solutions on paper. It is easier for the less vocal people to participate in brainwriting. In the process, the  participants build on each other’s ideas, and that gives an extra dimension to the discussions.

The basics are a group of people sitting together to write down ideas on index cards or Post-It notes. Participants are invited to consider out-of-the-box ideas. At the end of a set period of time (e.g., 5-10 minutes) the ideas are collected, organized into groups, and presented to the rest of the group.  Then there can be a second (or even more) round to generate and present more ideas.

There are different variations of brainwriting – we plan to use two methods:

  • BrainWriting 6-3-5: The name comes from the process of having 6 people write 3 ideas on Post-It notes in 5 minutes.
  • BrainWriting Pool: Each person, using Post-It notes or small cards, writes down ideas, and places them in the center of the table. Everyone is free to pull out one or more of these ideas for inspiration. Group members can create new ideas, variations or piggyback on existing ideas.

Workshop on benchmarking

 In our session you will discuss and develop two themes:

  1. Identify new kinds/types of indicators – future oriented instead of based on what has been done – in order to measure impact and value for international (health) library benchmarking.
  2. Our profession benefits from an evidence-based, research-focused foundation. We want you to discuss how (or if) benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship.

If you will be attending our workshop session in Dublin, please, before Tuesday 13th June, 2017, introduce yourself very shortly (name, organization, main tasks) by commenting this post. If you want, you can also very shortly explain why you chose this session.

And remember to bring your brain!


*According to ISO 11620:2014, an indicator is an expression (which can be numeric, symbolic, or verbal) used to characterize activities (events, objects, persons) both in quantitative and qualitative terms in order to assess the value of the activities characterized, and the associated method.

How to find time for benchmarking or other cooperation?

Taking part in library development and projects should be a natural activity for any library staff member. The great challenge is to find time to dedicate to such important tasks. A regular week in the library consists of lots of planned activities, meetings, events, things that just appear and must be solved on the spot, and then there is not any time left. It is easy to ignore tasks not visible in the plan of action or calendar. These tasks often seem “less important” and ends up out of sight, out of mind — regardless of how exciting and useful the project/task is. This happens both to in-house projects and international cooperation, and is also our experience in the benchmarking project –- it is difficult to find time.

Our project started in 2013; the initiative came from the library director of the University of Eastern Finland; the other two library directors supported the project mainly by agreeing on their staff spending their time. None of us has a budget or dedicated time for this project, we have had our normal tasks all the time – except during the site visits and some face-to-face meetings. We have kept costs, and use of time to a minimum as we mainly work online. The funding sources for the visits came from Erasmus staff exchange program and from the libraries’ budgets.

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Karen and Ghislaine taking a look at a handout in Brussels.

The project has clear goals and a project plan that give direction and deadlines. Our project is a best-practice benchmarking that aims at improving services; it is a process much more than a traditional project. The work is loosely organised; there is no leader – or we are all leaders. The three of us are equal in all decisions, our roles are based on our personalities and competencies, and so it must presumably be in a project of this character.

So how much time have we spent?  Since January 2014 (the main project period) we have used roughly 5 % of our total work time each:

  • Library visits: 3 weeks
  • Work together at EAHIL meetings: 3 days
  • Skype monthly meetings and preparations: 3 weeks
  • Planning the workshop for Edinburgh: 1 week
  • Planning the presentation and writing the full-text article for Seville: 1 week

These scheduled activities are roughly 8,5 weeks for each of us – out of the 156 weeks in the 3-year periods. The problem is to find time for individual activities like reading and preparing between our meetings.

 

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Tuulevi writing in Kuopio

 

Collaboration tools have been important to be able to spend time effectively both during and between meetings. The most useful tools we’ve used for cooperation have been these:

  • Dropbox for all kinds of data: meeting agendas and minutes, collected data, plans, photos and so on
  • Google Hangouts for online meetings and collaborative writing
  • WordPress blog for communicating our results

The blog was originally intended to document library visits in Trondheim, Kuopio and Brussels, but has become an important help to keep focus and progress. We use the blog as a planning tool, where each blog post explores and describes new topics, with deadlines and a responsible person. Parts of online meetings are used to finalise and publish new blog posts.

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Ghislaine and Karen with Frédéric Brodkom in Louvain-la-Neuve

To work on an international project, with limited resources, is challenging but also rewarding. It requires self-discipline to allocate time, but also support and understanding from colleagues and supervisors. It is important not to be frustrated from insufficient time, or when meetings and deadlines have to be postponed.

We have learned a lot from the project, from working together and from sharing with other EAHIL colleagues. So far the benchmarking project has been a continuing process of evaluation and development of the libraries’ functions and staff competencies as well as learning about different ways of managing a library.