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.


Across my desk this week…

Thank you very much to a library colleague who last week sent for my information a report of a recent survey of 22,000 academic researchers by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Palgrave Macmillan that found that a decreasing number of authors are concerned about perceptions of the quality of open access (OA) publications.  This finding comes as no surprise to those of us who have followed with interest over the years the growing acceptance and maturity of the OA movement.  For those still on the road to conversion, the survey results are significant.

The survey reports that in 2014, 40% of scientists who had not published open access in the last three years said “I am concerned about perceptions of the quality of OA publications.” By 2015, only 27% said they were concerned. In the humanities, business, and social sciences, the drop was more marked; from 54% in 2014, to 41% in 2015. Nonetheless, concerns about perceptions of the quality of OA publications is still the leading factor in authors choosing not to publish OA.

NPG and Palgrave Macmillan are making the anonymized data from their annual survey available for the second year running under a CC BY license, in order to achieve greater understanding between authors, funders, and publishers.

Recommended reading for any one on either side of the continuing OA debate.

It’s a horse, of course!

Who would think that the simple theme of the horse could be approached through so many different disciplines, from children’s stories, anatomy, music, and history to name a few.  Well that is exactly my takeaway from the latest exhibition on show in the Link in the Murray Library.  Exhibition Curator, Jill Crawley-Low, has brought her love and knowledge of horses and combined it skillfully with her practice of professional skills as a librarian, and the result is an exhibition featuring and showcasing the depth of materials on this topic from the University Library’s collections.  I suspect Jill had quite a challenge in deciding on her final selection for inclusion in the exhibition.

I hope you will visit the Murray Library to check this exhibition out for yourself! The exhibition will be on display until October 30, 2015 in the Link Gallery on the 1st floor of the Murray Library. More information about the exhibition is available here.

Welcoming the Researcher in Residence at the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)

We are excited to welcome to campus and to the University Library, the C-EBLIP Researcher in Residence, Selinda Berg, who joins us for the coming academic year while she is on sabbatical leave from her home library at the University of Windsor.

Selinda is a librarian at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry–Windsor Program and the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor. Concurrently, she is completing her PhD. in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University.

For more information about Selinda, and the Researcher in Residence program, click here. To stay up-to-date with C-EBLIP programs and activities visit their website at: http://library.usask.ca/ceblip/index.php

Reflections on Quality Client Service

Refreshed from my recent Australian travel experience, today I am continuing to blog on the theme of lessons learned. During my travels, I spent a lot of time in hotels and airports, flying 11 flight sectors in 30 days.  That experience reminded me all about the client experience and perceptions, something that we talk a lot about a lot in libraries.  It also reminded me that quality client service truly is in the eye of the beholder. However, all too often those conversations do not draw on experiences from other service industries.  No, the best hotel was not necessarily the most expensive one, but rather the one that made me appreciate value for money, and the extra effort put in by employees to make my stay relaxed and comfortable.

It has been a while since I have travelled on Australian domestic airlines and used the services and facilities of domestic air terminals.  Maybe I am using the experiences of travel over the last decade within North American airlines and airports as my benchmark, but I was pleasantly surprised by the range and diversity of services available, and the overall cleanliness of airport facilities.  Perhaps it is the increase in competition within Australian domestic routes and the experiences across four different carriers that help me to differentiate the levels of quality client service.  I am now quite a fan of Virgin Australia, while the long established and high profile QANTAS brand left me feeling disappointed and longing for the good old days of the QANTAS five-star service!  Overall, it did make me think and reflect on what makes for a quality library service – one that anticipates, exceeds, and delights our clients!

More about EBLIP8

Coming to you this week from Room 156, Murray Building. Yes, I’m back in the office attending to the in-tray and accumulated emails, with the memory of travel to Australia for the International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference in Brisbane now a fading memory. However, I did manage to bring Brisbane’s winter maximum daytime temperatures during the conference of 22º to 24º back for our Saskatchewan summer!

EBLIP8 was a huge success and I was especially pleased and proud to be there in person to hear my colleague Virginia Wilson (Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) at the University Library) give the opening keynote address of the conference.  Virginia’s outstandingly presented and intellectually challenging presentation was entitled: Poking and Prying with a Purpose: The Librarian Practitioner-Researcher and Evidence Based Library and Information Practice.

Included in the presentation, was the first public release of the results from Virginia’s sabbatical leave research, which provided strong and credible context setting for the entire conference. As if providing the keynote address was not enough, Virginia also co-presented later in the conference with Denise Koufogiannakis (from the U of A) on the topic of Canadian LIS Faculty Research: Linked to Library Practice? and with Lisa Given, ran a workshop on Translating Research into Practice: Strategies for Engagement and Application.  Congratulations all-round, Virginia – you provided very strong evidence of your record of sustained accomplishment in professional practice and scholarship before an international audience, who I know value your established expertise within librarianship in an academic setting, and appreciate you demonstrating leadership in the establishment and the profession.

The day 2 keynote address by Dr. Neil Carrington (CEO, ACT for Kids) on Creating and Sustaining a High Performance Team Culture: Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast was equally inspiring and left me with a personal and professional Ah Ha! moment around his question of: Are you spending your time the way you want?  Dr. Carrington’s direct and engaging delivery style had his audience spellbound for his one hour presentation.

Visit these blog posts for more about EBLIP8: