Saturday, 9 July 2011

Of pick and mix and cocktails

This week at work was mostly made up of staff development activities. The college organises several days of sessions a couple of times a year, run by college staff and external organisations. Although the library runs similar kinds of sessions throughout the year too it's a few days dedicated to staff development when academic staff in particular should hopefully have some free time and be in the mood for some professional development, so it's a good opportunity to show them new developments, or just go over the old stuff.

This year we called it 'Library Pick and Mix', and I think it worked really well. Instead of offering a few separate sessions over the period we did one 90 minute session, but the participants were offered a choice of what they wanted to cover. The first half hour was a general information session about the library in the form of a presentation which everyone attended, and included our homegrown 'higher/lower' quiz which some of the librarians use with students. (A statement involving a number goes up on the screen, such as 'the library offers access to 10,000 electronic journals', and participants hold up a 'higher' card or a 'lower' card depending on what they think the real figure is. Whoever gets the right answer first gets some exciting library stash (like a pencil or some post-it notes, woo!), and we give them a bit of detail about that topic. I think it's a fun way to cover fairly prosaic information and people usually seem to appreciate it.) It also involved real pick and mix - food usually goes down pretty well.

Then the participants could choose from about 12 options for the next two 30 minute slots (we asked them in advance for their choices so we could plan the sessions), such as subject resources, e-books, Harvard referencing, or a tour. I had two members of staff for an Engineering resources session, which I was really pleased by as it's the centre I find hardest to engage with in terms of providing appropriate resources. Having just two people meant I could focus the session on their particular interests. We only had six people for the whole session which may not seem like much, but we were pleased with the turn out. I'd happily do it for one person if it means they find out something useful they didn't know before. I haven't seen the evaluation forms yet, but they all seemed positive about the whole thing, so I'm feeling good about it.

There wasn't a departmental day this time, when we usually do something as a library team like develop a project, but I did attend one of the fun sessions, Introduction to Cocktails in our superb catering department. I may not be able to claim it as professional development, but it was definitely yummy!

Mojitos - the best kind of cpd


  1. Hi Gemma,
    I love the idea of your 'pick and mix' session!
    Does the library automatically get included in the list of training sessions or do you have to push to be included? I would love it if we could appear regularly on our staff development day timetables and something like the pick and mix helps make it more interesting and tailored to what the tutors want. A great idea!

  2. Hi Rachel. Thank you! We don't automatically get included, but it's normally just a case of letting them know if we want to do something and they'll add us to the list. We're fortunate I think that it's usually a two or three day period, so there's enough time to fit something in. We also recently asked to be part of new staff inductions, and now have a seven minute slot. Not very long, but it's a chance to say 'hello, we exist'! It does take a bit of pushing sometimes though.