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How "Muggles" Can Enrich the Library Team

Donna Carroll, University of Leiden | Dec 01, 2011

The University of Warwick is one of the UK's leading universities, ranked seventh overall in the last national assessment of researchers. The university library has been developing innovative ways to meet the needs of this community of researchers, as well as the needs of its students and teaching faculty.

My role as the Academic Services Development Manager at the University of Warwick Library, UK, was created in October 2009. It was intended to:

  • Support service development through evidence-based research and projects in line with library strategy
  • Coordinate the production of e-learning packages, integration of Web 2.0 tools (including social media and networking applications), learning guides and online tutorials for our Academic Services division
  • Assist in promoting our division's activities and services, including developing a Web presence
  • Generate and analyze user feedback, statistics and data to ensure our developments are well informed, evaluated, documented and needs-focused

The post also involves supporting some of our Academic Support librarians' more traditional activities. Integral to the role are the following skills:

  • Project management: I enable effective coordination of wide-ranging projects involving various team members with diverse skill sets.
  • Research skills: Much of my work involves investigating developments in new technologies and methodologies within the library world, as well as the teaching and learning sector more generally. We're also involved in investigating our local environment to ensure a needs-driven provision of services.
  • Understanding of the university community: Our library is working hard to offer segmented provisions targeted toward particular sectors of the university community, specifically undergraduates, researchers and teaching staff.

My background allows me to meet these challenges. I hold a doctorate in physics, providing me with research and statistical analysis skills, as well as good integration and an empathy with our university's research community. I was also a lecturer, which gave me a sound pedagogical knowledge. I've found this important when supporting new approaches to skills training and when working with colleagues who are developing university learning environments. Those environments include:

  • Research Exchange: This is an imaginative and technology-rich facility where research staff and students can study and cross-pollinate with others.
  • Learning Grid: Open 24/7, this innovative space supports independent and group learning.
  • Teaching Grid: This offers collaborative support and experimental teaching spaces for all teaching staff.

I'm grateful that the forward-thinking nature of our university library has allowed me to make a contribution to this field. Traditionally trained library staff and we "muggles" (please forgive the Harry Potter reference) can complement each other's skills sets to offer an even more enhanced and broad-ranging library service to today's academic community.