Library Concierge Project: Session 1

Our Library Concierge Project is now in full swing, and we have completed our first training session(s).

Despite some concerns about the appropriateness of the term Concierge, we stuck with that name for a couple of reasons– first, staff were already using the term; and second, no alternate term emerged as a clear front-runner (insert Republican primary joke here). So, the project is officially known as the Library Concierge Project (LCP).

We decided to set up a Library Concierge Project site in CourseWork, Stanford’s primary course management system (based on Sakai). I really wish I could give public viewing rights to the project site, but all of CourseWork requires Stanford authentication.

Key elements of the project and the project site are:

  • Sign ups: Over 250 staff members (about 65% of our total staff — everyone from Subject Specialists to catalogers to mailroom clerks to system administrators to …. you get the picture) have joined the site and are participating in the project. That figure alone is pretty exciting to me. Yes, we have made a big push among staff and managers about how important this is, and how valuable it will be; but I’m still extremely pleased that such a large number of our staff are participating in something that is not explicitly required. We are running at least 3 sessions for every training topic, with max enrollment at each session capped at 50 (so that we can use our own instruction room, and to maintain the possibility of interactive sessions). The Sign up tool allows us to require folks to sign up for one of the sessions and ensure we don’t exceed the Fire Marshall’s posted room capacity limits.
  • Course Materials: For each session, we can add supplemental materials and presentation slides. For example, the next topic is Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues, so we have already linked to the 2011 Charleston Conference “long Arm of the Law” presentations. We are posting all presentation materials on the site after the sessions as well; so we will are building up a nice repository of materials. Future new staff will be able to go back and review old session materials when they arrive.
  • Session Videos: We are committed to filming every topic and streaming the video on our project site. I want to share as much as I can about this project with a very wide audience, so despite the fact that I hate how I look and sound on video, here is an 8-minute clip I uploaded to YouTube of me introducing the Concierge Project and our goals. Unfortunately, I am the only 1 mic’ed up, so there are moments where I nod along knowingly to answers and comments you can’t hear. At the end of the clip, the camera guy’s cell phone rang — which was ironic given how important he told me it was that I take my iPhone out of my pocket during the presentation.
  • Chat Room: We used the Chat Room to provide a backchannel for online discussion and questions during the sessions. Any questions or comments in the Chat Room that don’t get addressed during the session are answered later in the Forums.  For Session 1, the Chat Room was pretty active with a great mix of comments, questions, and answers — it was a great way to have people talking to each other (which is one of the implicit goals of the project).
  • Forums: We are hoping that the Forums will turn into a rich source of conversation and peer learning in between the monthly sessions. We already have over 70 messages in the Forums, so we seem to be off to a decent start.

Because we are using CourseWork so extensively for the project, and because CourseWork support is part of Academic Computing Services, with is part of SULAIR (the acronym for our full organization: Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources); we included an overview of CourseWork in our introductory session. Future topics are likely to include:

  • Copyright, Intellectual Property and Licensing Issues for Libraries
  • Numeric and Spatial Data support
  • Digital Humanities Support
  • Special and regular collection development
  • Multi-media and other technology support
  • All about e-books
  • Digitization programs (Google, HathiTrust, plus our in-house programs/projects)
  • Instruction and reference
  • All about Technical Services

We are actively soliciting topic suggestions from our staff, and expect the list of topics to keep us busy with this for some time to come.

Responses to the project from our staff have been primarily positive, with suggestions for additional topics and requests for examples of good Concierge moments. One staff member asked me if we could keep a public tally of Concierge moments — my response so far is to post them in the Forums for all to see and celebrate. We may also start a Concierge of the Month award of some sort. It really is quite satisfying to be working on a project that is generating such interest and feedback from staff; and which I firmly believe will ultimately benefit our patrons.
So, please wish us continued luck, and stay tuned for more news as the project rolls along.

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