Libraries without walls 3

The final day of the conference was hot and sunny (like the whole week in Molyvos). After talking to Susan Robbins from the University of Western Sydney at the conference dinner, I really enjoyed her talk about ‘Information Central’ a single receipt and response point that her institution set up for all reference queries. UWS have 35,000 students spread on 7 campuses over a wide geographical area, and they wanted to improve consistency in answering queries and speed up the response time. They used the Ask-a-librarian software for online queries, but also dealt with telephone queries. Interestingly they found there was a high use of the online librarian services from students actually in the library! Although a third of queries did relate to off-campus issues. Information Central improved student satisfaction significantly and simple techniques were developed to personalise responses which students appreciated.

Moira Bent from Newcastle University and Karen Senior from University of Bolton presented results from their recent SCONUL project on library services for international students. UK universities are increasingly relying on fees from overseas students, and over a third of masters students are international students. This project investigated whether libraries should be providing specific services for these students. The research found that currently very few libraries do this, yet international students often have different expectations of libraries and the resources they will be provided with in the UK. Interestingly for LASSIE, the library was often an important social space for international students.

Jenny Craven from CERLIM gave the penultimate paper focusing on accessibility of websites based on a project she worked on to create a European Internet Accessibility Observatory. Jenny highlighted the importance of involving users from the start in testing web sites. Following user testing of the Observatory, a simplified version was developed.

The conference ended with a great presentation from Caroline Williams, the Executive Director of Intute, who looked at the reality of managing change. Caroline was the after dinner speaker at LILAC 2006 and she once again gave a thoughtful and enlightening presentation this time reflecting on the transition of the RDN to Intute which Caroline recently led. She talked about the importance of having a vision and a strategy to achieve success, of engaging hearts and minds, of communication and most of all of good leadership and the need to make executive decisions.

We finished with a round up session of overall themes of the conference. There was a lot of interest in further exploration of web 2.0 developments, which has resulted in the creation of a Facebook group for the conference. Do join if you were at LWW7 – it’s currently an open group. We also talked about where distance learning librarianship is going and how libraries without walls serve all learners. The conference was a great way to share what we’ve learnt from LASSIE, to meet new friends and also to have some time to enjoy the beautiful island of Lesbos. So thanks to everyone who made it such fun – roll on LWW8!

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