By Sarah Simpkin
In this column we’ll be featuring interviews with local library, archives and museum staff and students. Our third interviewee is Liz Hayden.
I’m Liz Hayden, Chief Librarian at Saint Paul University (SPU); on loan from the Assessment Librarian position at the University of Ottawa.
On loan! What does that mean?
I’ve been seconded as the transition manager since July 2013 and expect to be back working as Assessment Librarian in early 2015.
As the transition manager, the immediate challenges were to look into updating the Library in terms of technology and resources and therefore in services; overhaul the ILS; and dispose of significant unprocessed physical resources. A fundamental transformation was needed to bring the library into conformance with current academic library standards and practices.
Since SPU and uOttawa are already federated institutions, I also tried to identify ways that the two Libraries could work more closely together in a manner that benefits them both.
What’s it like over there?
SPU is a great place to work! It’s been really different moving from a large institution like the uOttawa to a small institution like SPU. I think my favourite thing is my team. I can’t believe what we’ve accomplished in only 18 months. As the transition manager, without the support of both the library and the larger university team, we simply couldn’t have accomplished the positive changes that have occurred.
Tell me more about what’s changed?
There are three standard library priorities: collections, services, and spaces. The library collection was in fantastic shape. SPU has one of the most captivating collections I’ve ever seen. I encourage your readers to come visit to our rare books room.
So we’ve placed an emphasis on user services and spaces (both physical and online). A couple of highlights include our user services and our catalogue.
We created a user services team headed by your last interviewee, Sandy Hervieux. She has really focussed on developing the reference interview skills of our front-line staff. We’ve also done a lot of outreach to encourage people to come back to the library and to use our new services: group study rooms, research guides, inter-library loan, one-on-one consultations, and small group training.
We have also merged our catalogue records with uOttawa so that our users benefit from one stop shopping. Previously, they had to search in the SPU catalogue for print material, and in the uOttawa catalogue for electronic material. Now we share one discovery layer for all materials. User feedback on this change has been fantastic.
I heard about a gym full of books…
Yes, we did indeed have a gym full of books! They were unprocessed donations. Your readers will be happy to hear that the gym is available for floor hockey rental once again. We donated a significant portion to libraries who aren’t as fortunate as we are, like the St-Joseph’s Theology Institute in South Africa.
Any other surprises?
Seeing my name and “Chief Librarian” on the door of my office when I got there! But seriously, it’s been a wonderful place to work. The people, the atmosphere, and the welcome I received have all been so positive. I would recommend working at SPU to anyone.
What’s next for you?
My secondment is coming to an end and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into some library assessment projects.
Do you really like stats that much?
There’s a misconception that assessment is all about stats. Although there certainly are stats involved, for example, preparing the annual Canadian Association of Research Libraries statistical survey, they are only one piece of the puzzle.
My role is more that of a resource person. Individuals or teams may come see me to get help with any manner of assessment; for example, trying to figure out how to measure the success of an existing program, or how to build an assessment element into a new project.
Which role do you like better?
They are both awesome, for totally different reasons. As much as I’m looking forward to returning to my Assessment Librarian role, I will really miss my team at SPU.
Who should I interview next?
Helena Merriam, the Director of the Library Technician program at Algonquin College.