Celebrating Saskatchewan Library Technician Day

What better way to mark this important day in librarianship then to spend it with students?  That is exactly what I did today, when I joined the Library & Information Technology students at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.  I was excited to be asked to speak with the students enrolled in MGMT 282 Library Management – Theory and Practice about the broad topic of strategic planning.

The University Library has several links to the program, including hosting library practicums and opportunities for input into course design and curriculum.  Several of our current employees are past graduates from the program.

I appreciated the invitation and the opportunity to talk with today’s students who will make up the future of librarianship and whose leadership and professional work will help ensure a vital and dynamic profession of librarianship into the future.

Library Researcher Series: Fall 2015

The Fall 2015 Library Researcher Series is set to begin next week, and I was excited to learn about this years’ offerings.

The Library Researcher Series provides workshops on interdisciplinary topics of relevance to the research of graduate students and faculty.  This years’ offerings combine sessions on library research and managing references.  The schedule includes some old favorites as well as some new offerings. The University Library offers these workshops to support research and interdisciplinary learning on campus.

You are invited to attend any of these free drop-in sessions – no registration is necessary. If you wish to follow along with some of the sessions, please bring your own laptop, or borrow one from the library.

For more information about the Library Researcher Series, visit: http://libguides.usask.ca/LibraryResearcherSeries

A copy of the Fall program is available below.

LRS Poster Fall 2015


What western library Deans/Directors are talking about…

Last week’s Fall meeting of deans/directors from the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) has comes and gone.  It was great to host this meeting in Saskatoon without the need to travel to another province.  This is an opportunity that has only come my way twice in my almost ten years as Dean.  Unfortunately, at least one Dean/Director experienced airline travel difficulties and ended up on a flight that was turned-back to its departure point to rectify mechanism problems!

So, what were the big items up for discussion?  Basically it came down to three hot topics: collaborative collections, indigenous knowledge, and digital preservation.  COPPUL provides leadership in the development of collaborative solutions addressing the academic information resource needs, the staffing development needs, and the preservation needs of its member institutions.  The library consortium is comprised of 23 university libraries located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

COPPUL has an already well established record of action on collaborative collections, especially through recent work to build a Western Provinces Shared Print Archive Network (SPAN).  A renewed commitment to that work, including in the future work on monographs and government publication titles is a welcome development.

Conversations about what contribution COPPUL might make to advancing indigenous knowledge, especially in light of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were timely and follow on well from last year’s COPPUL workshop on this topic.

A shared approach across Western Canada to work towards the creation of preservation infrastructure and support systems highlights COPPUL’s recent appointment of the COPPUL Digital Preservation Network Manager for a two-year period. This should tie in well to exciting national developments through Project Portage, which is focussed on building infrastructure and support services for research data.

All in all, a busy week for academic libraries across Western Canada.

Lessons in Leadership

Another so-called ‘leadership crisis’ played out on the Australian political scene in my country of origin this week. I don’t know how many Canadian colleagues asked me “How did that happen?” Well, I’ll leave the specifics of political interpretation to others; but what I am interested in is the broader question of what exactly constitutes a leadership crisis?  Is it the lack of clarity about leader and follower roles; too many egos; inability to create and foster a positive team approach to governing and leading; competing visions and values; or, maybe it’s all of the above.

Stemming from Australian events this week, what also interests me is how an organization (or in this case, a nation) responds to so many leadership changes. In Australia’s case there has been four national leaders in little more than two years.  Why has this happened after John Howard served an 11-year tenure as Prime Minister.  Is this sounding a little reminiscent of local campus circumstances?

What are the lessons to be learned from this week’s Australian experiences, and how might that help us as an institution transition to new university leadership?  Focussing on our common and shared values and vision for the future might be a good place to start.  Investing in organizational development programs and activities might be a good second step, and knowing that while the designated (or elected) leader has certain roles and responsibilities, that the concept of shared leadership and leading from where you stand, from my experience, is the best recipe for a flourishing/thriving/vital and all-round healthy organisation (or nation).

Meanwhile, what might unfold after the Canadian election (my first as a Canadian citizen with voting rights) is anyone’s guess.

CARL announces the release of the 8Rs Redux, CARL Libraries Human Resources Study

On the afternoon of September 10, 2015, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) released the following announcement:

The original 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resources Study conducted in 2003-2004 arose in response to a growing perception in the community that libraries would be facing mass retirements within the next decade. The 8Rs Redux, CARL Libraries Human Resources Study conducted by Kathleen DeLong (University of Alberta), Marianne Sorensen (Tandem Social Research Consulting) and Vicki Williamson (University of Saskatchewan) provides a review of the many ways in which CARL libraries and their staffing requirements have changed, as well as how they have responded to those changes.

“We are pleased to share the results from this study,” stated Susan Haigh, Executive Director. “There has never been such a comprehensive set of data on human resources in Canadian academic libraries for our members to mine, and to be able to compare the two sets of findings, ten years apart, reveals an important story how Canadian academic libraries are adapting to meet changing needs.”

The report presents a comprehensive overview of 26 CARL libraries and represents comparisons over time since the first report a decade ago. The 8Rs Redux looks at a multitude of factors such as the 2008 recession, retirements, new information technology, scholarly communication and publishing changes.

Vicki Williamson, Chair of the CARL Research Libraries Committee noted “the original 8Rs study brought focus to CARL’s work in coordinating and leading efforts to build the CARL library workforce.  The updated workforce data in the 2015 study gives CARL a longitudinal base and strong evidence on which to design and implement national workforce strategies and programs going forward”.

The full report can be found on the CARL website at http://www.carl-abrc.ca/en/research-libraries/human-resources.html.

CARL members include Canada’s twenty-nine largest university libraries as well as two national libraries. Enhancing research and higher education are at the heart of its mission. CARL develops the capacity to support this mission, promotes effective and sustainable scholarly communication, and public policy that enables broad access to scholarly information.


Focusing on librarians as researchers

Throughout the Fall term, University Library faculty are engaging in activities and hosting various events to highlight librarians as faculty researchers.

On September 15 our Type A University Research Centre – the Centre for Evidence Based Librarian and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) will host Dr. Mandell, who will deliver the 2015 Dean’s Research Lecture. Dr. Mandell will give a presentation entitled: New Modes of Humanities Research: How Libraries Can Help.

Our Researcher-in-Residence, Selinda Berg from the University of Windsor, is with us and settling into her one-year residency. As a prelude to the upcoming C-EBLIP Symposium in October, Selinda is presenting a half-day workshop on moving from a research idea to a research question.  Registration for the one-day C-EBLIP Symposium are coming in at a positive rate, and already there are 45 participants registered to attend.

The library’s Research Facilitator (Carolyn Pytlyk) has a busy work schedule assisting librarians with research grant applications, as well as a number of new initiatives to support librarians as researchers, including the co-ordination of four new research mentorship teams linked to the university’s mentorship program. Some recent success by librarians in obtaining external research grants is testimony to the value which our Research Facilitator adds to the our efforts to intensify research outputs as part of the practice of professional skills of library faculty.

The Librarians’ Journal Club and the Librarians’ Writing Circle activities continue, and Brain-Work (the C-EBLIP blog) now has a group of 29 writers, including 16 external to the University Library busily blogging.  Check it out here.

Back in 2006, the library, as part of its strategic plan, embarked on a deliberate strategy to intensify the research activities of library faculty by significantly increasing the research outputs of librarians.  Almost a decade later, there is evidence of very significant progress in the realisation of that goal.

Welcoming New Students

The start of a new academic year is always a busy time, and today at the Murray Library more so than ever.  Today, over 400 first-year students were booked to tour the Murray Library as part of the university’s orientation programming.  These library tours are just one of the initiatives being organized by the University Library during orientation. This week, be sure to be on the lookout for library ‘rovers’ in bright yellow t-shirts – they will be providing information to students about the library and distributing University Library highlighters.

It is always an exciting time of year, as the summer fades away and the campus becomes, once again, a busy, vibrant community of learners, teachers, researchers, scholars, and practitioners.

On behalf of the University Library, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new students coming to our campus for the first time. We hope to see them regularly as they engage, enlighten, and explore at the library.

Leslie and Irene Dubé at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library!

Dean Williamson with Leslie and Irene Dubé

Dean Williamson with Leslie and Irene Dubé

It was very exciting to spend time with donors, friends, and supporters of the University Library at yesterday’s donor event held at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library.  Having Les and Irene in attendance along with a small group of long-time library donors, library ambassadors, and library leaders made for a very informal and enjoyable afternoon.

The occasion was a timely reminder that our work of library transformation to our collections, facilities, services, and our organizational culture has delivered some very significant results that ensure the library’s on-going role in contributing to a positive student learning experience.  However, as I reminded those present yesterday, there is considerable work remaining if we are to bring the library system across the campus in all library locations up to a similar standard.  The contributions and support of our donors makes a considerable difference, and hearing directly from Les Dubé about why he and Irene work to make contributions that make a difference was very inspiring.

In a Dean’s working day, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Spending by university research libraries, 2013-14

For those of us interested in statistics and benchmarking, check out the August 21, 2015 Almanac issue (page 58) edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE), which covers the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Library Investment Index 2013-14. Visit:

The figures are customarily published with the ARL caveat that these data are not indicative of performance outcomes and should not be used as measures of library quality.  Regardless, they make interesting reading.