Get organized… and save the time of the reader

Remember the five laws of library science? More specifically, the fourth: save the time of the reader? The second MolBio SIG-sponsored session I attended today was “Leading by Design, Not Default: Focused Direction in Support of the User“. All these projects stressed the importance of service assessment.

First, I learned about evidence-based electronic collection development, where statistical data collected from a year-long pilot program provided the basis for the collections librarians to decide which titles to keep and which to remove from the catalog. Such patron-driven models are gaining more importance, as a lot of electronic books end up never being used. As the fourth presenter stressed, libraries often focus on getting the content and designing a tool to access the content, not necessarily involving the end user in the process. Similarly, getting users to deposit documents in an institutional repository required their input.

Next, I was quite interested by a survey aiming to identify trends and patterns to guide design of future information services and technologies for researchers from two different institutions (grad students, postdocs and faculty). Results indicated that faculty from both campuses ranked expert information services (i.e., grant and writing support, embedded librarians, and systematic reviews) as the package of greatest impact on research. Note to self: contact the authors so I can jumpstart a similar survey at my own institution!

Then, a presentation focused on library structure reorganization from the new director’s perspective. Factors that contributed to a smooth transition were: 1) getting to know the new organization by active learning, such as listening tours; 2) establishing a team of transition advisors early on in the process; and 3) understanding existing work styles (pace, needs and objectives). A Research & Innovation Unit was created, and an internal needs assessment showcased a lack of shared direction among liaisons librarians. A guided approach for research proposals was thus designed.

Finally, the fifth presentation described the results of a needs assessment among clinical and translational researchers. Data was collected regarding general, bioinformatics and data-related information needs. Researchers desired training in the use of statistical analysis software as well as tools for gene expression, next-gen sequencing, and genome browsing – which was surprising, as training was already provided by the library and researchers were unaware of it! Other services that respondents were most interested in were learning how to enhance the impact of their research, submit to the institutional repository, and more effectively search the scholarly literature.

In conclusion: get to know your users, react accordingly, and they will use your services.