Having undergone an Integrated Library System migration last year, two things I decided I could improve on in future projects were better communication with staff and more feedback. Now that my library is currently implementing EBSCO Discovery Layer (EDS) alongside A-Z and Linksource, I have an opportunity to improve on those project management skills.
The first hurdle is that we don’t have regular staff meetings and communication is through one or two people talking face to face or email. I find emails work for brief topics like “Aleph will be down from 3-6am tomorrow,” but not for disseminating all the information needed to facilitate the implementation of a big project.
So to go beyond email and the occasional staff meeting, I’ve created a private guide within our institution’s LibGuides that staff can access through our “Staff” guide. The guide has definitions, a project timeline, links to beta sites, links to support documentation, links to other libraries that have implemented EDS and of course meeting minutes from the EDS working group.
The EDS working group is a small group of volunteers, who will be providing feedback on usability, design, branding, etc. The goal is to meet every week until EDS is implemented in May. While this method is not unusual at most institutions, it is unusual for our current library atmosphere. Yet so far, this method is working well. I am indeed getting staff feedback and posting the outcomes for the entire staff to see on the EDS guide mentioned earlier. As for the workgroup meetings, I just need to work on keeping to the scheduled timeframe and fostering discussion (not just informing).
Finally, I want to create a “what if” board outside my office. I originally wanted to garner ideas specific to the EDS implementation, but now I’m going to keep the idea generation broader. “Technology in the library / Online Presence – What if…?” Perhaps I’ll get some cool ideas that we implement and I can post about at a later date?!
There is a neat participation tool called Poll Everywhere that I’ve known about for awhile now and recently got the chance to use in a presentation. It was an interesting way to get anonymous feedback from the audience and as students would say “It’s free!” The free account allows you to create as many polls as you would like with up to 40 responses for each poll…perfect for a small class or audience. Participants only need access to an internet capable device or a cell phone with texting capabilities…computer labs are perfect!
Some of the features that stood out to me were:
- the ability to slightly customize the url that participants use to submit responses. I altered my account’s url to end with my name – something like pollev.com/myname. It creates a subtle reminder of who is presenting.
- the ability to group questions allowed me to organize and quickly locate questions I prepared in advance.
- the ability to use an image as a question is awesome! You could easily upload a map and ask where people are from or ask where they did their research. Or as someone else jokingly suggested, you could do anatomy and ask where the eye is.
- the automatic saving of responses. They only go away if you clear them or delete the poll.
- how easy it was to explore and implement this tool.
I should end with some logistical thoughts to consider. It only works if the audience members have access to an internet capable device or text capable phone. A lot of people have these devices but not everyone does and this would be an important consideration if you were using Poll Everywhere in a class. Additionally, unless you have a second device with you to start and stop the polls, users will see you use the backend of the interface. I’m indifferent to this, but some people may not like it. I suspect this may not be an issue if you embed the poll in your PowerPoint, but since I did not test that feature, I can’t say for sure. Otherwise, if you want to get feedback from your audience beyond the traditional “raise your hand if”, this is one cool way to do so.