Stepping Up, Up, Up and Away!

At the end of last year I was given the amazing opportunity to back fill one of my QUT colleagues and become a Liaison Librarian for the Faculty of Law. This was awesome (if temporary) and I have learnt a lot about myself and added a few new skills to my portfolio of things I can do.

So what skills have I learnt acting as an Liaison Librarian for the past 7 months? Here is a quick list in no particular order-

  • Liasioning – I have always felt I have strong interpersonal skills, particularly with those I know relatively well. This role was challenging as I had to reach out to academics I had never met before and almost sell my services to them. As a naturally awkward person this was difficult for me. But I used the great form of email to break the ice as I could spend time crafting the perfect email and send it to the academic I wanted to contact without having to come up with content on the spot and sound stilted or unqualified (one of my biggest worries!) Using email and then following it up with a face to face meeting really helped me to connect with my academics and improved my liaisoning skills #likeaboss
  • Teaching – Again my teaching skills coming into this role were not too bad but one new thing I had to learn was speaking in front of hundreds of students by myself in a lecture. This was very daunting but like any other teaching event very manageable when I did my prep work. I crafted lesson plans and powerpoint presentations, made sure I knew what I was talking about and (handy tip coming!) made sure I new what technology I would be dealing with ahead of time. By liaison (there’s that skills again :D) with my academic I felt confident that the content I was delivering was on point and most importantly new what recording software was being used. Luckily, it all ran smoothly and a couple of students even approached me after to say how useful it was #thosefeels
  • Autonomy – Working in this role meant I did not have desk or chat shifts so I had a whole bunch of extra time. I also was in the role that I usually went to to get assigned tasks to do. This meant I had to actually step up, think strategically, and at times create my own work. I joined working groups and started to really think about what things I wanted to do in this role. In the end I have several positive outputs including creating faculty wide newsletter to connect with our clients and promote library services and creating an Articulate Storyline learning object for the School of Justice that shows how to find different types of quality information and where the best resources to look at. Working more autonomously was really good as it gave me a sense of ownership and culpability and pushed me to really think about how I can best spend my time to benefit my clients and myself professionally #professionaldevelopment  

I have really enjoyed my time working as an Liaison Librarian at QUT. You are able to do some great work and have a real impact on students through liaising with academics and creating workshops and resources. I have learnt a lot from my work colleagues and managers and will hopefully take what I have learnt and continue to apply it as a Library and Information Professional. It has made me more confident as a librarian in general which has led me to accept a full time position at another library (how did this even happen)!

As sad as it is, after 6 years of working at QUT Library I will be moving on to work full time at Crown Law Library. I hope this new opportunity will allow me to continually develop more skills, give me some grounding and allow me to really sink my teeth into worthwhile projects as I get to spend 5 days a week at the same place #success!


Game of Libraries – Dragons, frozen yoghurt and so much more!

Game of Libraries promotional materialOn the 28th November Toowoomba Regional Library opened their doors for a group of excited librarians ready for an action packed day of professional development. They had been promised, by USQ, QUT Library and ALIA QLD, quests, learning, Dr Matt Finch and a free lunch and they were not disappointed!

It kicked off with a bang with myself & Michael Hawks presenting Librarians and Dragons: A Transferable Skills Workshop. Not only did everyone get badges (#swag) for participating but our workshop is pretty much a library quest, fun! Our  workshop focused on players understanding what transferable skills you have developed over your life experiences aka completed quests, and how these can be used effectively in a library setting. But in a fun way!

The  workshop is gamified and takes players on a library quest through a haunted library where you battle ghost catalogue cards, poltergeist reference librarians, dragon library directors and zombie patrons. Participants worked in groups as four different characters, Take life by the horns Library Manager, Ace Academic Librarian, New Graduate Cat and Old Man Hoot the Teacher Librarian. Each group would take a turn to solve obstacles they faced, such as calming down those dragons (!!) with either their #SUPEREFFECTIVE top transferable skills or their somewhat effect other transferable skills.

Luckily, all the characters made it out of the haunted library (yay!) by using their transferable skills. After the adrenaline of facing a zombie horde had worn off, everyone had time to create a character profile for themselves. This gave everyone time to reflect on what skills they can bring to the table. You could also identify what skills you don’t have and how you can get them and ‘level up’ you career. Overall. Librarians and Dragons was #supereffective at showing participants all the skills they never knew they had, plus questing is fun! To experience the thrills and ghosts yourself, download the presentation or get in contact with me (@maddymedlycott) & Michael (@mikeyh177) on Twitter or check out #librariansanddragons.

The second half of Game of Libraries featured Dr Matt Finch and his workshop, Library Island. There were a few ice breaker activities to rejuvenate everyone after lunch, such as writing postcards from the future and having some walking meetings (yes, you heard, meetings within a workshop!). And after this, the battle for Library Island commenced.

On Library Island there is the Ministry of Shelves, three libraries, some librarians to run them plus a whole bunch of community members running around with their own wants and needs. During each round (5 years in the life of Library Island) your role changes. You could start out as a young indigenous family then morph into an employee for the ministry and then become a librarian! Library Island is chaotic and it is meant to be that way. You get a real feel for each different role you play and understand their motives and the difficulties that affect them. The great thing about Library Island is that there are very few rules therefore the outcomes and experiences are always different. One iteration ended up with Donald Trump taking over one Library and a Homeless person and indigenous student banding together and forming their own library complete with a bar (for the homeless person) and beds (for the student)! Another version of Library Island was based around The Good Place and players had to either keep the fact that they didn’t belong and wanted to escape a secret OR hunt down the people who didn’t belong in the Good Place. And you better believe that frozen yoghurt was on offer at the library! You can read more about Library Island on Matt’s Blog – matt finch / mechanical dolphin or find Matt (@DrMattFinch) on Twitter.

Game of Libraries was a great day of professional development. It is a nice change to actually move around, meet new people, have some fun and learn a little bit. Next time you are looking for some innovative PD, break the wheel and play the Game of Libraries!

HR Coordinator, here we go!

Since my last glowing review of HR for an information professional, I have been promoted to HR Coordinator. I have been doing this new role for 8 months now and let me tell you, it has been interesting, challenging, motivating, hectic and FUN! I have really enjoyed growing into this role and taking on additional responsibilities and improving as an information and HR professional and getting to work alongside an amazing team.

It was quite difficult for the first month or so as I straddled my old and new jobs. There was a seriously high volume of work coming through from my old job with no one to take it on and I was struggling to learn my new responsibilities. However, I persevered and worked on my time management and delegation skills and was able to process a bulk load of information into our payroll data base in order to meet our deadlines. As an information professional this has really enhanced by database knowledge and my information management skills as I had to sort through a lot of information and select the appropriate information in an efficient way.

Not all of it has been hard times. In my new role, as I have a bit more seniority and experience I am able to communicate a lot more with a range of different people including higher up managers such as the General Managers of Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon as well as directors of the Merlin London Cluster. Being confident and knowledgeable enough to advise with a variety of people throughout the business is important as an information professional as it allows me to communicate information effectively and efficiently.

Other additional responsibilities I have taken on as a HR Coordinator include being much more active in Recruitment and Training. I can now run assessment centers and conduct interviews with candidates and have also run several training courses, including company inductions. These are great experiences and have really aided in my development as a HR and information professional. Both training and recruitment require me to impart information to a group of individuals. For training it is for the employees development and growth that I must effectively teach them new knowledge and skills. This is a vital skill as an information professional, as people learn in different ways so I have had to use different learning techniques, such as presentations, videos, group activities and individual activities, throughout the training courses in order for all employees to gain from the experience. I have had to share and communicate information in different mediums such as oral, written and visual in order for each employee to grasp the information. Again, this is a VITAL tool for any information professional.

Running assessment centres and conducting interviews has also helped my information skills. Again, I must impart a lot of important information to sometimes a large group of candidates. I must manage the information given to them so they aren’t overwhelmed and can understand what tasks they must undertake. This is really important in order to get the most out of the candidate and recruit well. Assessments and interviews are also about gathering, finding and deducing the information we need from the candidates in order to make informed decisions. As an information and HR professional this is key and can also be tricky thus different mediums are engaged such as forms, presentations, group tasks and questions. This information must be processed accurately and fairly on a scoring matrix in order for the correct decision to be made for the business. Therefore the gathering of this information is crucial to successful recruitment which directly relates to the success of the business. HUZZAH for information!

My new role has also allowed me to take on a few more projects. One that I worked really hard on was coordinating not one but two (!!) benefits fairs for our employees at Madame Tussauds London and the London Dungeon. These events for all our teams had to be planned well in advance and included me further developing the following skills –

  • Liaising with outside companies
  • Liaising with internal employees
  • Engaging with employees to find out what they wanted to see
  • Arranging and sticking to an assigned budget
  • Coordinating food, drinks, raffles, goody bags, rooms and with management
  • Advertising

By running and completing this project I was able to present information to our employees in an engaging and exciting way. I also had to organise information proficiently in order to deal with multiple vendors with requests and get them all on site for the fairs. Overall the fairs were very successful with over 250 attending the fairs and taking in the information I presented them, whoa!

Madame Tussauds Benefits Fair 2015

Madame Tussauds Benefits Fair 2015

Another project I undertook, at my own initiative, was in regards to employee engagement. At Madame Tussauds London we have an annual employee of the year award whereby employees nominate an outstanding employee. All the nominating is anonymous to our employees and they only find out the winners, not who is nominated. In order to inspire and engage our team I wanted to let them know who else had been nominated. I had to think carefully about what information to give our employees and how best to present it so that the employees were able to get the most out of it. This project was turning out to be all about the information! In the end I presented certain quotes and snippets of all the nominated employees on a large board in a busy thorough fare of the office. I jazzed the board up and took pictures of all the nominated employees, to make it fun! This project was wildly successful because of the way I presented the information. Everyone saw the board and were thrilled if they saw themselves or their colleagues up on it. It definitely helped with employee engagement and even the General Manager praised it, a very rare thing! Overall this project showed me how crucial it is to show information in an accessible way to suit your audience.

I have learnt loads more over the last 8 months however I don’t want to ramble on too long. Some other key skills I have picked up include –

  • Problem solving – being heavily involved in payroll I have had to solve many complex queries. I have come to really enjoy this side of my work, flexing my brain and being able to sift through information, find the cause of the issue and implement a solution.
  • Time management & prioritising – taking on more responsibility and helping support a new attraction opening (Shrek’s Adventure! London plug!) I have had an increase in my workload. I have had to utilise lists and prioritising more than ever before.
  • Employee Relations – I have been able to understand and advise more frequently on our company’s disciplinary policy, sickness and absence policy and other company policies. Senior managers feel comfortable discussing confidential matters with me and are confident with the advice I give them.
  • Training – not only have I run training courses but I have also been training my own colleagues in processes I am confident in such as payroll & recruitment administration. I have had to understand my colleagues’ needs and how they best learn in order to share the information accurately with them.

I am still utilising a lot of the knowledge I spoke about in my previous blog, The Wonderful Land of Human Resources :). However I am now really fleshing these out and expanding my skill sets and knowledge.

HR is still a passion of mine, especially now that I am interacting with more and more employees, such as in training and recruitment. These further skills have enabled me to implement knowledge I have gained during my masters and improve my information skills. Plus it is loads of fun! HR and information go hand in hand and I cannot wait to bring all my new skills and knowledge back to Brisbane and start the next stage in my information career, be that in HR or in the Library industry!


Go back to Part D – Professional at Work

A new information land – FINANCE!

So I haven’t written a blog for quite some time but I have an excuse! I have moved over to London and have been travelling, exploring and finding new work. It’s all been very faced paced and I am only now just starting to really settle in and have some spare time. I thought I would use this time to reflect on the new skills I have learnt and that I am developing over in London. Surprisingly there is more to London then just pubs and tourists, I have learnt and utilised many information skills!

My first job in London was as a temporary position within a finance team as an Administrative Assistant. They had BIG monthly deadlines that had to be met no matter what and a large influx of tickets and vouchers that had to be counted, recounted, recorded and invoiced daily. It was a very fast faced and high pressure environment that I did well in. By putting my head down and doing solid work I was always able to help the team reach their deadlines. Some of the key skills I developed were –

  • Inputting huge volumes of data accurately
  • Working to strict deadlines
  • Prioritising work schedule to meet deadlines
  • Filing copious amounts of paper files
  • Photocopying & scanning copious amounts of paperwork
  • Becoming familiar with creating invoices
  • Using invoicing program SAGE
  • Successfully communicating and working with team
  • Using complex Microsoft excel spreadsheets accurately

One of the key things I did in my 2 months of working with the finance team was helping them streamline one of their main duties, scanning. As I had previous experience with their brand of printer, I recommended a new option within the printer settings that allowed them to scan large documents without rushing. It also allowed them to continue their scan even if there was a jam. This saved them a lot of pain and time and scanning was a vital but very time consuming role within this team.

Working with Finance allowed me to develop my information skills by forcing me to process large quantities of information regularly and with a high level of accuracy. I could see that even the smallest amount of information, such as how many people where on a ticket, could affect not only the team but the business. For instance if a voucher was recorded wrong it could result in an incorrect invoice resulting in an unhappy customer and reflecting negatively on the business. I also used information skills whilst filing. Even in this task one out of place invoice means that the information is that much harder to locate. When labeling invoices they had to be given names according to a specific formula. This meant that they could be found easier at a later date. This showed a very important information retrieval system.

Overall, this job allowed me to develop my data inputting & filing skills. It also allowed me to see how important information management is to not only teams but the overall business needs. I will never forget my first job in London and all that it taught me!


Go back to Part D – Professional at Work

Working as an Administration Officer within an Academic Library

Over the summer I worked as an Administration Officer at QUTs Garden Point Library while their usual AO was on holidays. It has definitely given me a new take on the library, much more of the bigger picture! I now notice building issues, which can affect staff and clients alike and know who to liaise with to fix these problems. Working in role has allowed me to meet new people associated with the library but not part of main library team ( librarians & library advisers) such as cleaners, facilities management and tech support.

I have compiled a list of the generic capabilities I gained and developed whilst in this role as well as the interesting things I learnt about libraries as a whole.

Generic Capabilities I am learning as a Library Administration Officer –

  1. Written communication via email & logging jobs.
  2. Organisation – developing key register, stationary room.
  3. Time management – working through work efficiently & with priority.
  4. Communication – with supervisors and other staff ranked higher than me & my supervisors. Professionally liaising with other departments and staff members.
  5. Problem solving – analysing problem and applying appropriate solution or assigning problem to the correct person e.g. moving furniture from loading dock.
  6. Technology – improving skills using outlook calendar, editing sharepoint site, using suresite, BEIMS.

Knowledge I am learning relating to Libraries –

  1. How they run i.e. professional breakdown, maintenance.
  2. That many people, besides the librarians, are involved with the library such as academics, cleaners, IT staff, finance officers, teaching staff and managers.
  3. There needs to be a lot of organisation in order for everything to run smoothly.
  4. The library is managed by the Branch Library Manager who reports to the Director of Library Services who reports to someone higher. Essentially the library is middle management.


Go back to Part D – Professional at Work

Learning Resources & Services Open Day

Back in Semester 1, 2012 I was able to attend the QUT Library Resource Services Open Day as part of my professional development. This occurred because I was working as a Collection Access Assistant at QUT’s Garden Point library. I learnt many interesting things at this open day and it helped me grow as an information professional.

The day started out with an introduction to the LRS team and a tour of their work place. It was quite large with over a dozen people working in this department. The difference between a monograph and serial were explained as well as the new work structure based around merging the two teams that used to deal exclusively with one or the other. It was interesting to note that now all the team members were training so that they could deal with both monographs and serials making their team more efficient especially when someone maybe away. They are in charge of the actual ordering, after it has been approved, and with the labelling of the resources. Their work is very busy and constant with a large pile of boxes containing new resources that need to be labelled and catalogued on their large conveyor belt.

I also learnt a lot about the resource librarians and what they do.  They deal with the cataloguing of resources especially the hard ones such as kits. They are also responsible for loading records onto the library catalogue for databases including journal titles, e-books and serials. It was interesting to learn about EBI in relation to e-books and when they are rented or purchased. The criterion for QUT is that the first three times a student loans an e-book that is rented at fee is charged to QUT. On the forth loan the book is purchased as it has met the criteria of being current and useful within the QUT collection. The resource librarians get a lot of their updates from Library Australia and do record loads once a month. In turn they also send new records through to Library Australia when they update a record themselves. Most of the time the resource librarians cannot directly change the records that appear on the QUT catalogue and it has to go through Library Australia. I also learnt that they deal with the video streams in the catalogue too. It was interesting to learn that though the university purchases these videos they still have to pay viewing fees.

The other main aspect of the LRS that I learnt about was the life of an e-resource. They defined e-resources as something that is available online or in a digital format such as a journal, database, e-book, webpage or an online streaming video. They advised that the life of an e-resource started with a new order requested by a liaison librarian to information resources committee. They then contact the vendor and the licence is discussed. This seemed the most complex part as the licence needs to be negotiated for the right terms and conditions. The most important clauses that they negotiate on are confidentiality of price and no harm will come to the publisher. The order is put into millennium where it can be tracked. The next step of the lifecycle is renewal and evaluation. According to LRS orders over $1,000 are reviewed every two years by the information resource committee and orders under $1,000 are reviewed by the LRS team.  Mature order comes next in the e-resources life and this involves any changes to the order such as a title change. After this the resource becomes an ageing order where it doesn’t get as much use and the librarians need to establish whether this resource is still relevant to the collection. If it is not relevant the order is cancelled and this can be done in one of two ways – perpetual order whereby all subscriptions up until the cancellation are kept or an unperpetual order whereby all of the holdings are removed.  The latter order seems very harsh to me and would make me do my research very hard as to whether the order really needs to be cancelled.

The other interesting thing I learnt at the LRS open day was about e-books. There are three ways in which they can be ordered according to QUT LRS team. These are the patron driven model, individuals select and purchase and the purchase or an individual title or collection. The e-books in the library collection are evaluated each year.

Overall my time at the Learning Resource and Services open day was very informative. I had no idea how much time and effort it tool to create and maintain a large academic library’s collection such as QUT’s. All their work was very interesting and I wonder how they each fell into their roles at QUT. They were a comfortable team and obviously work well together to get through their intense workloads. Going to this open day has helped me grow as an information professional as I have had my eyes opened to all the behind the scenes jobs that take part in the library with regards to cataloguing and ordering. Also it has let me see the application of what I have learnt in my studies so far such as collection management especially regarding e-resources.


Go back to Part C: Professional Development Activities