SCONUL Focus 65 44

Michelle Blake, Vanya Gallimore
(RMT) in the Information Directorate was reorganised at the University of York. New teams were created to develop services focusing on liaison, research and teaching and learning. The aim of the new RMT was to strengthen relationships with staff and students across the university by understanding and engaging in the new research and teaching environment at the University of York, and providing appropriate and targeted services and support. Many institutions have started to move away from a
more » ... ve away from a traditional model of academic liaison and subject librarianship. Whether or not we are aware of it, relationship management has become a key part of what we do. The changing information landscape and new challenges higher education libraries face mean we need to think differently about how we can meet these challenges. Reports from RIN and RLUK have attempted to help institutions think about what services and skills are needed to operate in this new environment. Our academic liaison team at York considered these reports and felt that it was too much to expect liaison librarians to develop these new skills on top of all they were already doing. The information landscape around us was changing and we felt that a new model was needed in order for to us address the inevitable challenges. About the same time we organised a White Rose visit-staff from Leeds, Sheffield and York universities visited the University of Manchester in order to understand more about the new model they were implementing. This model included a focus on engagement with the business of 'selling' the services of the library to academic departments. We had a fairly traditional liaison model at York, with three subject clusters (which were like faculties). Each cluster had a team leader, and although there was some sharing within cluster groups, the model had resulted in duplication of work, inconsistent service delivery to departments and liaison librarians feeling they had to be experts in everything but without the means to do so. The move to a functional approach, which has been implemented at many UK higher education institutions, was adopted at York, and allows staff to specialise and develop expertise in one specific area. Liaison is one of our key functions, and our structure gives our liaison librarians the time to focus on building meaningful relationships with academic departments, notably through the academic staff themselves, with an aim of reaching and influencing students through them. Simultaneously with the introduction of this model we developed annual library action plans. These are partnership documents with each academic department, outlining the work that we shall be undertaking with the department over the forthcoming year. These plans are formulated using data from our surveys (LibQual, National Student Survey [NSS], Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), knowledge from the liaison librarian (for example, from attending departmental meetings, meeting with staff), module feedback, department medium-and long-term plans and a range of library data (e.g. budget and how it has been spent, usage data). Liaison librarians use all this information to develop a draft set of actions, which are then discussed in meetings with the academic Head of Department, the academic library representative and the Head of Relationship Management or the Academic Liaison Team Manager. These discussions have proved invaluable and allow us either to confirm that the suggested actions are the right focus for the coming year or to change or add new actions based on department priorities which may have been previously unknown (sometimes based on the department's NSS results). Each action plan is tailored to an individual department, using a common template. Initially they were essentially a Word document. However, they have been substantially developed to give more detailed data analysis to departments about the library, the investment we make in the department and Using action plans to build partnerships at the University of York