Top 5 things Millennials hate!

1. Sweeping generalisations of an entire age group based on poor scholarship. (see: digital natives)


2. Judgmental articles blaming Millennials for problems created by earlier generations.


3. Criticism of Millennials asking for (legal) fair pay and hours.


4. Being labelled as a selfish and apathetic generation when actually being engaged with global social issues.


5. Being called Millennials. Seriously. We hate it.


This post was inspired by a conversation with Ned Potter on Twitter about that awful article criticising Millennials for daring to have a work/life balance. As a supposed Millennial (urgh) myself, I am also aware how negative stereotypes can affect how we interact with members of this generation in our services, whether intentionally or otherwise. So I hope this post made you chuckle but also reflect. Thanks.



Pushing back and branching out

I’ve just finished reading an editorial by Wendi Arant-Kasper and Wyoma vanDuinkerken from Texas A&M University from the Journal of Academic Librarianship called “Other duties as assigned: internal consultants in academic libraries”. (DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2013.10.015) and it got me thinking about something that has been bugging me on and off for the past few months. Librarians can be seen as a very traditional role type with a very specific set of skills. This perception is often not helped by some of the current professional qualification course material that is out there on offer.

I wrote a piece over at the new #UKAnthroLib blog (that I co-edit/admin) about an enthography seminar that I attended in London. Some of the speakers were trained anthropologists and not librarians at all. There were a few comments that alluded to the fact that this was a good thing and allowed some element of separation and special skill sets to be applied to the library environment. This triggered a few memories that I have had with various external consultants over the past year or so that have either been working for my institution (University of Cambridge) or in other capacities, where the idea of someone NOT being a librarian and being trained in other fields was a good thing.

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So what does a UX Librarian do anyway?

I’ve been in my new job as UX Librarian at Cambridge Judge Business School Information and Library Services for just over two months now so I thought it was high time I wrote about what I actually do.

The TL;DR version: lots!

I first heard about the UX job when Andy Priestner blogged about it, which instantly made me realise that this was a job like no other! So I applied, interviewed and was thrilled to be offered the role. Part of my interview involved a presentation on what I thought about UX in Libraries which I have included below.

I am mainly responsible for generating new initiatives and support that improve the effective and efficient delivery of services. What this actually means is a bit more complex. Also, as you’ll see from the above presentation, UX can mean different things to different people, especially if you’re coming at it from a design perspective or a computing angle.

Over the past few months I have:

  • Answered many complex enquiries from a wide range of students and staff
  • Offered specialist support to our Executive MBA students, a group that I have particular responsibility for
  • Overhauled the I&LS blog (on-going), reviewed our communications policy and pestered Facebook into changing our page name to fit the new School branding
  • Done lots of teaching and filmed a Youtube video on how to use LinkedIn effectively
  • Advised and collaborated on new ways of teaching research skills to remote students via VLE
  • Helped out with lots and lots and LOTS of promotional activities, ranging from social media plugs to postcard campaigns
  • Tried to get to come to Cambridge
  • Conducted 1-2-1 career and interview prep sessions
  • Compiled profiles on various Chinese companies to support teaching
  • Presented about user services at the i2c2 in Manchester
  • Carried out extensive UX testing of the I&LS website
  • Developed further UX website testing with the aim of getting real people in to experiment with
  • Taken part in teaching space and building workshops
  • Developed content creation strategies and cohesive comms approaches
  • Constructed (with a team) an extensive Social Media Driving Licence training programme for staff
  • Taught fellow librarians about effective education and outreach
  • Started the planning stages of a UX conference
  • Advised Faculty on blogging tools and methods
  • Consulted on a new School-wide documentation retention and digital archiving project
  • …and much more!

This list isn’t an attempt to show off and toot my own horn, but I hope it shows the really wide range of work I’m engaged in, and just over the past two months! I still have loads of projects that are on-going and some that I haven’t even started yet.

Thomas Hawk via Flickr

A really big part of my role is to do with applying research methods, such as ethnography, to the information service within which I work. I’m really looking forward to tackling this, as well as doing work to develop user personas and other research-heavy work which will allow for me to use the scientific method in a big way and hopefully develop new initiatives that not only work, but are also backed up by actual data rather than “gut feelings” which sometimes may be wrong!

I’m also supporting my immediate community with regards to effective Research Data Management and Open Access advice and I hope to built on this support and start engaging with researchers in a big way over the next few months.

My job is unusual in that I am part of the Information and Library Services team but I also sit slightly outside of that team too. I help with the day-to-day running of the service by doing enquiries work and occasionally staffing the enquiries desk, but a lot of my work is taken up with lots of strategy meetings, chats with other teams from around the school and trying to make new collaborative connections so I can work on new projects with people and really show off how our team can help people with their work and research.

The team that I work with is fantastic and everyone has their own skill sets and specialisms and now I’ve got used to knowing who to ask about what, I’m able to use all of that varied knowledge to push new ideas and test out if new ways of working will…well…work!

Credit: Ramnath Bhat (CC Flickr)

A lot of my work is very creative and innovative so I have a lot of fun thinking up new ways of doing things and I am really supported by my boss, Andy, to push against the norm and to really think outside of the box. I hate that phrase but the library world can be a really restrictive “box”, so trying to think of new and creative ways to push against the more negative service approaches can be daunting but also really rewarding.

So, I will blog more about all the various projects I’m getting up to as time progresses. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Social Media Driving Licence works out as we are planning on running it as a staff CPD course over Summer 2014. I feel that social media can do great things if used effectively, and hopefully the course I’m helping design will not only encourage people to use social media but also give them the tools to use it really well, with minimal drain on their working days.

Disclaimer: Of course, my experience of being a UX Librarian and all the variety that it offers will probably be completely different to other UX roles. I’ve written purely from my own experience and this post does not summarise ALL UX work in libraries.

Image credits

1. Nathanael Boehm (CC Flickr)

2. Thomas Hawk (CC Flickr)

3. Ramnath Bhat (CC Flickr)

Innovating, inspiring, creating and disrupting: a report on the i2c2

On 5th March 2014, I headed up to Manchester with my lovely boss Andy to attend i2c2, a conference themed around Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity (‘conference’ is the second C) with the aim to use positive disruption to improve libraries. I am very fortunate to work where I do because I have been in libraries before that would have never have been able to send me on this conference due to budget constraints, but Cambridge Judge Business School takes staff development very seriously so I was able attend i2c2.

I know I often write up training sessions and conferences in a way that allows others to get a similar experience, even if they weren’t able to attend, but I fear this is impossible with i2c2 as it wasn’t like any other conference that I’ve ever been to. It was a very visual, engaging and collaborative conference with less sitting down and listening and more getting involved and networking. Instead I’ll give an overview of what I did and heard.

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Librarians on film (and TV)

Star Wars librarian, Jocasta Nu


Credit: LucasFilm

So, Obi-Wan Kenobi does what all good Jedi should do and goes to his local library to find some information from a hopefully helpful librarian. Unfortunately he meets Jocasta Nu. Seriously Jocasta, that’s your reference interview technique? Can’t you sit  Obi-Wan down in front of your futuristic OPAC or access a database with him to help him find what he needs? Sure, he might not have the “right reference” but who does? It isn’t as if he’s asked for a book and only remembers that it was blue. “Oh yes, I’m looking for a planet…I remember it was sort of cloudy” doesn’t really cut it.

No. You send him on his way without any information at all. Of course, you could have taken some notes and his email address (or hologram address) and researched his problem in your own time and get back to him. Tut tut. Bad librarian.

Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

Controversial decision because I love Giles and the Buffyverse. However, Giles, I get that you’re saving the world and all that but what is your outreach policy? We never see any students using the library, apart from very very rare occasions which you react to with confusion. You hate computers (I seem to remember you called one an idiot box), at a time when they were beginning to transform the librarianship landscape. As a high school librarian, you were pretty bad. Sure, Sunnydale was inevitably going to fall into the Hellmouth but surely you could have put on a literacy programme or something for the students. I mean, they didn’t even get to graduate properly due to the Mayor turning in to a giant snake thing. Poor students.

Ghost librarian, Ghostbusters


Credit: Columbia Pictures

Honey. I get that you’re all dead and incorporeal but that doesn’t excuse your terrible manners in the book stacks. What’s with all the floating books? Are you sure they’re being reshelved properly because you of all people should know how impossible it is to find a misshelved book. We may as well write those ones off and put a missing note in the catalogue. And really? Gunge in the card catalogue? Your living colleagues probably haven’t put those onto an electronic database and some poor intern is going to have to clean those up and reorder all the ones you rudely scattered everywhere. Honestly, even in the afterlife you can make a ton of extra work for the living.


Evelyn O’Connell, The Mummy


Credit: Universal Pictures

Two words. Ladder training. Really…you could have killed someone.

Monsters University Librarian

Credit: Pixar/Disney

Credit: Pixar/Disney

Oh dear oh dear. Bun. Check. Old age. Check. Glasses with chain. Check. Tentacles…er….check? I get the importance of silence in a study space but charging about the place, tackling students, causing injury and causing a whole mess that only you are going to have to tidy up is not a good way of maintaining a user friendly service. Calm yo’ self. It’s ok.

Disclaimer: this is all meant to be very tongue-in-cheek. Tell me your personal bad librarians from TV/film/other. Let’s share in the cringing.