BCU Library Visit Provides a High Water-Mark for the Events Programme

Gaz J Johnson

Visit to Birmingham City University library caps off an academic year packed with exciting, relevant and informative Mercian events.

The final event of the 2017/18 academic year was held at Birmingham City University (BCU) Library and comprised one of the Mercian Staff Development Group’s (MSDG) ever popular All the Same But Different library visits. Each of these visits has a core aim to give attending delegates a practitioner’s eye view behind the scenes at the cultures, working practices and challenges staff at the hosting institute face. Unlike the themed events, All the Same… visits provide a broader set of insights across the whole of the library services, coupled being able to discuss issues of interest and concern with staff in-situ. They also tend to be smaller and more intimate events, meaning everyone attending gets a chance to discuss their ‘hot button’ topics. The visit to BCU was just such an event, and included opportunities for attendees to learn about collection management, learning and teaching endeavours, customer services, and library ICT based systems; alongside the more informal staff networking.

The event started with Deputy Library Director Steve Rose explaining the library service structure, before Head of Collection Management John Fry-Smith spoke about his team’s work. This was followed by a highly engaging session from Head of Customer Services Annmarie Lee, who gave an overview her team’s endeavours to meet BCU’s students and staff communities’ disparate library service needs. Steve Rose returned to present a session about the work of the Learning and Teaching team, on behalf of Christiana Titahmboh who was unfortunately unable to attend. Next, discussions shifted towards the technological side of the services as Nikki Griffin (Library Systems and Resources) delved into the varied work with which the Library Systems and Resources team engage.

After a chance to ask questions of the morning’s speakers, a delicious lunch was enjoyed by delegates, who also took this time to network further among themselves. Following lunch, Laura Percival and Trudi Pledger highlighted the vital and exciting role social media and live chat plays in delivering on the library’s mission to support its user community. The day was brought to a close with a guided tour around the Curzon Library, before everyone returned for wrap-up discussions and reflections.

Delegates to this event also had the unexpected opportunity to witness how library staff rise to a, thankfully minor, crisis when running water to the event building was cut off. Thanks partly to the host institution’s effective engineering team, but also the ingenuity and dedication of the organising staff, delegates were still able to take comfort breaks and enjoy a slightly extended ad-hoc tour of the institutional campus.

The day was very well received, with delegates commenting how ‘great it was to see at first-hand how a library works’ and the ways in which they now better understood how the ‘different library sections worked together’. Additionally, ‘presenter’s honesty’ in discussing their challenges and less-successful experiences were highlighted as a valuable learning experience. The organisers also praised the attentiveness and engagement from the delegates, as this contributed to creating a rewarding, friendly and valuable event for all involved.

Presentation Slides

This might have been the last such event for 2017/18, but the MSDG already has plans for many more in the next 12 months. Keep your eyes on the Mercian website, discussion list or twitter for details of these as they emerge.

With thanks to Huizhe Jin & Janet Fox.