#blogjune: post 17: Effective awards that keep on giving ….

Everyone loves an awards ceremony. The recognition, kudos & lift you get as a winner is unbelievable. I loved watching the tweets from the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Phoenix (#sla2017) over the weekend. SLA conferences open with an awards ceremony & there’s a lot of razzle dazzle as befits an American conference.

As chair of this year’s SLA awards committee I am thrilled that we had so many  nominees to choose from. I’m also pleased to have been able to make some – much needed – I believe, alterations to the awards process. Firstly, we re-jigged the timing, so nominations closed in mid-January, allowing people longer to collate nominations. Secondly, all the winners were told who had nominated them. This was a really important change I wanted to implement. Prior to this year, winners weren’t routinely told who had nominated them. That means those who nominated often went unnoticed. As both a former award winner, & someone who had coordinated several nominations, I know how nice it is to be able to thank people, & to the thanked. I’m hoping both of these changes will become
regular practice.

One of this year’s award winner’s, is Rising Star Marie Cannon (@mariegcannon), who just happens to also be President of my home chapter, SLA Europe. Congratulations Marie; you’re a star.

Marie won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) in 2012, which was co-sponsored by the Legal division. These particular ECCA’s are known in the Legal division as Paddington’s, thanks to @Librarysherpa.

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I can still remember the discussion in New Orleans in 2010, with Martha Foot & John DiGilio, Legal division past chair and chair elect, which resulted in the Legal division joining the units co-sponsoring ECCA places.

The SLA Europe ECCA programme was set up in 2007, based on a suggestion by Sylvia James and Barbara Robinson. Its aim is to raise awareness and encourage participation in SLA by those in the early stages of their career. Offering winners the chance to network and learn, while developing a pool of members to run SLA Europe in the future. The prize is an all expenses paid trip to the SLA conference in the US, and the chance for winners to participate in the conference and get the SLA bug. SLA Europe worked with several divisions to co-sponsor the awards. Since 2007 SLA Europe has worked with the following divisions: business and finance; insurance and employee benefits; academic; legal; science technology; pharmaceutical and health technology; leadership and management and competitive intelligence. Eleven years on 34 people have won the awards and the majority have become active with SLA, taking on unit positions and in Bethan Ruddock’s case being elected to the Board of Directors.

Now that sounds like a very successful awards scheme delivering on its aims. Long may it continue.



‘All change, all change’ or change is the new normal

Change management often involves adapting to your environment and altering plans to achieve goals. As evidence for this the panelists at last week’s SLA Europe  session, entitled ‘All Change! All Change??’ certainly managed to cope admirably with their environment, particularly as the venue had a raucous quiz next door and lacked a microphone. The panelists calm response to these factors proved to be a good indication of how well they all naturally cope with change.

The panel session was chaired by Lesley Robinson with four speakers who provided a series of case studies on change and change management from a mix of sectors: banking, healthcare policy think-tank and a national library.

Ian Wooler, Director of IDW, stressed change ‘is a process not an event’, so be prepared for the next change. He used de Bono’s six thinking hats as a tool to explore change. By using each of the hats Ian highlighted how complex change is. Thus reminding us that we all see change from different perspectives. Ian also stressed the importance of having a baseline of activity before change implementation to measure success against.

While John Coll, Head of Access at National Library of Scotland, used a series of questions (why, where, what, how and when) approach to identify key issues involved in managing change programmes. His key tips were:

  • lead by example (it helps if those in charge have been through the change process)
  • it’s all about people
  • credibility is vital – be as honest and transparent as possible
  • perseverance is essential

Veronica Kennard, Director at Rothschild, is midway through a change programme, so she talked about the importance of appreciating organisational culture when considering change. As part of their current change programme she is having to change user behaviour and mange expectations.

From the King’s Fund, Ray Phillips, Head of Information Services, described the changes the information centre had undergone since 2007: physical move, downsizing of the collection, increasing income generation and restructuring. All of these had been done successfully by involving the staff and demonstrating that their library skills could help solve King’s Fund problems. Examples included collaborating with IT and replacing library management system with open source solution, which was more compatible with other IT systems in the organisation, and saved money. Developing a database of position statements to ensure the King’s Fund could keep track of what was said when on policy matters. For all of these the ‘Library was seen as change agents for the organisation.’

What made the event a success was the mix of participants and their different cultures, sectors and stages of change management, all of which underline Ian’s point that change is complex. The networking following the session was fun and interesting, with lots of food and wine. Thanks to The Financial Times and Swets for sponsoring the event.

Read other reflections on the event by Stephen Phillips and Jeremy Clarke.