"Thanks to a bursary from CILIP South East, I was able to attend and present at the Relationship
Management in Libraries Conference at the University of Newcastle, 5-6 November 2019. I currently
work as Academic Engagement Team Leader (job-share)/ Academic Engagement Librarian at the
University of Roehampton. My roles have a strong focus on relationship management, working
closely with academics to support the teaching, learning, and research activities of the university.
The RM Conference was brilliant and has given me many ideas to explore in my current roles. I found
the talk ‘Articulating partnership and skills progression for maximum impact’ from Anne Archer and
Louise Cowan (University of Newcastle) particularly interesting. They had explored ways to show
academic departments the support offered by the Library whilst at the same time sought to help
students better understand and articulate the skills that they were developing by attending Library
The Digital and Information Literacies Development documents have helped to engage
departments, show them how to scaffold information literacy skills and embed these within
curriculums. They also used the documents as a way for students to self-assess their own skills, and
took care to link to employability skills to emphasise that the skills went beyond using the library.
The opening workshop from Phil Jones (Coventry University) on ‘Nudge Theory’ was engaging and
highlighted easy ways to transfer this theory into everyday work. ‘Nudge’ is a way of framing choices
to influence the actions or behaviour of your users, for example seeing a message saying ‘only 3
rooms left at this price’ makes people feel that they’ll miss out if they don’t book immediately.
‘Nudges’ should be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST).
Phil recommended the following book
to explore these ideas further: Kahneman, D. (2013) Thinking, Fast and Slow, Mew York: Farrer,
Straus and Giroux.
The workshop looked at simple ways to translate this approach to libraries, for example:
--Use normalising language: ‘have you seen your Librarian yet?’
--Make use of social proof: ‘these students are using this resource and finding it really helpful
with their assignments, you might too!’
--Utilise authority figures: get academics to deliver or repeat key messages to students
--Make sure your messages are where your users are – they won’t all already be in the Library
The talk ‘A spot of inspo: how we partnered with students to shape our services’ from David Brown
and Martin Philip (University of York) was an inspiring look at how to really involve the student voice
in shaping Library services. LibInspo was an innovation competition for students to suggest ideas for
how to improve Library facilities, resources and spaces, and the winner would receive £1000 (yes,
actually £1000!) and a promise from the Library to investigate making their idea happen. The Library
received over 95 ideas, and drew up a shortlist of finalists in conjunction with the Student’s Union.
The finalists were given mentors from professional services across the institution to help them
prepare to pitch their idea to a panel of judges, including senior university staff. The winning idea
was an app to show how busy different areas of the Library were at any time. But they also took on
other suggested ideas and implemented those too. The Library benefitted as they got a better idea
of what students wanted from their services, and the shortlisted students gained valuable
employability skills. Whilst this might not be easily replicable (£1000!!) it showed how powerful the
student voice can be in designing and introducing services.
The conference was a great opportunity to learn how other HE Libraries are developing relationships
with their users and creating engaging services."
~Amy Rippon, Academic Engagement Librarian at the University of Roehampton.