Posts Tagged 'library concierge project'

Library Concierge Project: Initial assessment

Our Library Concierge project is in full swing, and because we included an assessment plan in the project from the start, we can already report some decent results.

To recap, our Library Concierge project is an ambitious initiative designed to promote exceptional public services across the Stanford Libraries, and to empower and equip all staff to provide that service. It refers to both a service perspective and a set of training experiences for all library staff. The training experiences are designed to increase staff familiarity with the full range of resources and services our organization offers, so that they can provide better public service, give more effective referrals, and can take advantage of opportunities to serve as fully informed ambassadors for the Stanford Libraries. Ultimately, our goal is to maximize Stanford scholars’ knowledge of and access to our resources and services; but we know we have to start by providing ways for our own staff to learn about the services offered by their colleagues throughout the organization. For a more thorough introduction to the project, you can watch this 8 minute video from our Introductory Session.

The core part of the project is our monthly Concierge sessions for library staff. Each session is designed to expose staff to some part of the Stanford Libraries and give them enough information about that service or resource that they can provide basic information to a patron and/or make an effective referral. We hold 3 sessions for each topic, which allows us to reach 150 staff each month with the live session. We also video each session and provide the videos on a secure CourseWork site dedicated to the project. The CourseWork site also serves as the home for discussion forums and supplemental materials on each topic.

Since our primary goal is to increase staff’s knowledge of various library resources and services, so that they can more confidently provide Concierge-level service to our scholars, our assessment plan consists of a series of pre-and post-test surveys assessing staff knowledge and confidence about the topics convered before and after the sessions on those topics. We also ask several questions designed to gather feedback on elements of the project itself, including suggestions for future topics.

To measure the impact of the training sessions on staff knowledge, we asked folks to answer the following question on a 1-100 slider scale:
“How confident do you feel in providing basic information about the following topics:”; and then we list both upcoming topics (pre-test), and past topics (post-test). We plan to deploy the surveys quarterly, so each survey will provide pre-test data for 2-3 topics, and post-test data for 2-3 topics.

We have now completed the initial baseline pre-test survey, and the first post-test survey, measuring change in staff knowledge for our first two topics: Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources; and Numeric & Spatial Data Support. Preliminary results are very encouraging. On Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources, average staff confidence in basic knowledge went from 40 before training to 46 after training. For Numeric & Spatial Data Support, average staff confidence ratings shot up from 21 to 44.

Library Concierge Project: Basic Knowledge Pre & Post Session

Write in comments on the Copyright, Licensing, & E-Resources session indicate that the smaller increase may be due to many staff coming away from the training with a realization that Copyright issues are more complicated than they had previously thought.

We employed a panel design, which will allow us to match individual answers over time (by means of an anonymous, randomly assigned ID). This means we will be able to look not just at aggregate change (which could be due to selection bias — e.g. people who felt they learned something may have been more likely to fill out the survey), but also at individual knowledge change over the course of the project. We also collected data on what parts of the training staff engaged in (live session, video, discussion forums, chat room, supplemental materials, etc.), what part of the organization they work in, and whether their job involves direct public service to scholars; so we will have the opportunity to do more sophisticated analysis (and better charts!) as we have time and more data. As always, stay tuned.

(Wrote this post on CalTrain, finished it up at the ballpark. Go Giants!)

Things that made me smile this week …

Kingston Trio; From LoC PPOC


I started the week off feeling grumpy, but it is Friday now and I need to change my attitude (not to be confused with changing the subject). So, for my own mental health, here are the random things that made me smile this week:

  • Running into a colleague on her 2nd day back from maternity leave just as her wife arrived on campus with their gorgeous baby
  • Listening to the Old 97s this morning and realizing that they sampled the Kingston Trio’s Worried Man on Big Brown Eyes
  • Bragging about a colleague to an AUL at another institution this morning
  • Hearing kind words from colleagues on the other coast
  • Pink vespa

    Photo credit: Flickr user Shendeluth

  • Seeing a women on a neon pink Vespa, wearing matching neon pink jacket and helmet, riding down Palm Drive this morning
  • Getting a note from Stanford’s Parking & Transportation Services saying they love the Marguerite Moment idea, and sending me an updated photo of one of the Hybrid Marguerite buses
  • Excellent long-distance customer service from Franklin Flower Shop in Franklin LA

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.

Stanford Librarians and the Marguerite Moment

Marguerite hybrid

Hybrid Marguerite bus. Photo credit: Deyra N. Rodriguez


As part of our Library Concierge Project, we are promoting the notion of the Marguerite Moment. The Marguerite Moment is our version of an Elevator Pitch, but branded for Stanford — Marguerite is the name of Stanford’s free campus shuttle (the history of the name is actually pretty interesting).

We plan to practice a version of the Marguerite Moment at each of our Concierge sessions by encouraging folks to sit near someone they don’t know well, and having them do the following 1-minute exercise:

Imagine you are on the Marguerite shuttle and you sit down next to someone you recognize from the library, but have never talked to before. Introduce yourself to them, and tell them what you do for SULAIR.

Another version of the Marguerite Moment we are practicing is topic specific. For any given topic we cover in our Concierge training, we hope to equip staff to handle the following kinds of Marguerite Moments:

Imagine you are on the Marguerite shuttle and the person sitting next to you says:

“Hey, you work at the libraries, right? Don’t’ they run CourseWork? What’s that about?”

“Hey, you work at the libraries — Do they do anything with data?”

“Hey, you’re a librarian — What’s up with the Google Book thing?”

“Hey, you work at the libraries — Is the Engineering Library really bookless?”

As part of each training session, we will give folks a chance to practice a Marguerite Moment on the training topic, and we will give examples of good Marguerite Moment responses for each topic or issue we discuss.

So, the next time you see someone from the Stanford Libraries on the Marguerite shuttle, ask them something about the libraries — they will be ready and eager to talk to you.

Note: This post was edited on March 9 2012, to replace the photo of an old Marguerite bus with a photo of one of the current hybrid Marguerite buses, thanks to the Stanford P&TS for supplying the updated photo.

A concierge by any other name

In November, we kicked off our plan to introduce a Concierge Model for library services here at Stanford Libraries (SULAIR). The general idea is to emphasize “concierge-like” service to scholars, focusing on serving as a single point of contact for the full range of needs a scholar might have. The bulk of our work will be on equipping and empowering our staff to provide that kind of service — which will require a series of cross-training activities. For example, we want the Subject Specialist for Economics to be knowledgeable enough about the range of services we offer that they can be the “concierge” for a faculty project involving numeric data, digitization of government documents, maps, GIS applications, and maybe some visualization software. SULAIR provides all of those services, but spread across many parts of the organization. In our new service model, the faculty member gets access to all those services and resources through the single point of contact instead of having to figure out where each of those services lives in our 400+ person organization.

The kick-off of our new “Concierge” model included a formal presentation, discussion, and interactive use-cases at our annual managers’ retreat; a shorter presentation at our quarterly All Staff meeting; and a follow-up at our monthly managers’ meeting. The best part of all of these presentations and discussions has been learning that librarians and other staff really, really, really dislike the Concierge metaphor.

I have never been so happy to have gotten something wrong. The fact that the term Concierge struck such a nerve with folks has resulted in tons of feedback and engagement, and spurred a spirited and collaborative attempt to come up with a better metaphor. The primary objection to the term Concierge is that it implies a much more subservient relationship to the client/guest/scholar than the kind of collaborative and collegial relationships that we foster within our community.

Some of the alternate labels staff have suggested for our Single-Point-of-Contact model of library services are:

  • Ambassador
  • Sherpa
  • Docent
  • (River) Guide
  • Steward
  • Advocate
  • Champion
  • Ally
  • Match-Maker

In my opinion, each of these suggestions works best if you add Information before the label — i.e. Information Ambassador, Information Sherpa, etc. Which led to someone (my boss, I think) suggesting “Informationist” as the right label. I’m skeptical that we would get buy-in from scholars for a completely new term that sounds very library jargony. And, of course, more than one person has wondered why we can’t simply use the term “librarian”? My answer to that is that very few students, and perhaps even fewer faculty, think of a “librarian” as someone who can help them with statistical analysis, data visualization, multi-media production or any of the other not-typical-library-services we provide in support of research and teaching. And the whole “Concierge” plan is intended in part to address our image and marketing challenge.

At this point, we haven’t settled on the right term, but the debate over labels has helped us to distill some of the key elements of a good “Concierge/Ambassador/Information Sherpa/Whatever”:

  1. They are active and pro-active in identifying a full range of Library resources and services that would support a scholar’s research and teaching needs.
  2. They have expertise and “insider knowledge” of our organization and of our business — from trends in scholarly communication, to internal and external digitization efforts, to developments in e-book publishing, etc.
  3. They work collaboratively with scholars, contributing their particular expertise to a project as a colleague.
  4. They provide seamless and efficient access to the very broad array of services and resources offered by the libraries.
  5. When acting as the “Champion” for a particular project, they assume responsibility and leadership for the project.

Now if we can just figure out what to call them (us) …

Concierge Model for Librarians

At our annual leadership retreat yesterday (~50 department/unit managers), we kicked off our Concierge Model plan. I gave a Concierge for Librarians Presentation (w/ gratuitous cute doggie photo) to set the context.

Our Concierge concept has much in common with Corey Seeman’s Hospitality focus at the University of Michigan’s Kresge Business Administration Library, and I very much benefitted from his presentation and our conversations in Charleston (Yay for conferences and networking!).
In a nutshell, our Conciege approach consists of:

  • An explicit focus on exceptional customer service
  • A committment to providing a single point of contact (a “champion”) for scholars whose needs span several parts of the organization
  • A committment to providing a series of ongoing training events for our own staff to make sure we all stay informed of what services and resources are provided throughout our big, complex organization

After introducing the idea, we then asked folks (in groups) to do some improv skits of good and bad public service interactions. This turned out to be a great warm-up activity that allowed us to pull out some themes about what constitutes “exceptional customer service.”
After lunch, we had groups work on some Concierge Use Cases (PDF) and present them. Each group represented a cross-section of the organization, which meant that some Concierge cross-training began happening just in the small group discussions as staff had different levels of knowledge about services and resources related to their use case example. The discussion of the Use Cases really highlighted the value of the Concierge model and the need for staff training. A big challenge for us will be the growing list of topics folks added to the training agenda. Although, whenever staff are asking for more meetings, I figure we must have tapped into a real need.
I’ll certainly be sharing more as we implement, so stay tuned and wish us luck.


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