Tag Archives: CILIP

A conversation on ‘Good Practices’ with CILIP’s Knowledge and Information Management community

By Elisabeth Goodman, 28th February 2019

I had a wonderful hour or so with members of CILIP’s K&IM community in a webinar yesterday evening on “Good Practices for Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration“.  It was a taster of RiverRhee’s one-day course on this topic, which I have previously delivered through CILIP.  The content is also well-documented in my book “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook”.

Good Practices for Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

Webinar given to CILIP’s Knowledge & Information Management SIG on 27th February 2019

The participants were a select few of about 30 practitioners.  According to my poll at the start of the call, 38% were actively engaged in K&IM, 29% were starting to be involved, 24% were thinking about it, and 10% had other reasons to be on the call such as mentoring someone working in this field.

We had some very active discussions which provided insights on how this group are practising Knowledge Management, and what they might do as a result of what they learnt on the webinar.  This blog summarises these insights.

Reasons for adopting a Knowledge Management strategy

I believe the reasons that Knowledge Management has continued to have traction since I first encountered it as a discipline in the 1990s, is that it can, and should, be closely aligned to an organisation’s goals and strategy.

I referenced the new ISO standard 30401 – Knowledge Management Systems – throughout the webinar, and, this is something that the standard also endorses:

“Knowledge management serves the organizational objectives, strategies and needs.” (0.3 Guiding principles f) Focus)

Prompted by my question, delegates gave some of their reasons for adopting a Knowledge Management strategy.  These included:

  • Maximising organisational assets
  • Saving time for finding information/knowledge
  • To get the right information to the right people at the right time
  • To use previous learning and make processes etc more efficient
  • Creating a strong link between the library and its users/organisation’s goals and needs
  • Satisfying customers
  • Promoting collaborative working
  • To compensate for the person you’d want to ask being off work!
  • Sharing ideas – more innovation
  • Intelligent programming for maximised impact
  • Sharing knowledge and a learning culture

Which tactics to use?

There are a number of tactics available for sharing knowledge between people and with the aid of technology.  I focus on people-to-people tactics and gave a quick description of six of these as shown on this slide.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 13.12.14

Participants on the webinar were already using some of these, and also expressed interest in trying out some that they were not using.

The methods some people were already using included:

  • Ask the Expert
  • Peer Assists,
  • After Action Reviews
  • Communities of Practice

The methods people indicated they would explore further included:

Barriers and enablers for fostering knowledge sharing and collaboration

I advocate using simple tools such as SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to understand what barriers and enablers are available to help you foster good practices in your organisation.

The ISO standard also advocates gaining an understanding of these barriers and enablers as illustrated by this slide.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 13.22.15

We did a mini-exercise with the delegates on the webinar on what their barriers and enablers might be.  These included:


  • Other, higher, priorities in the organisation
  • The difficulty of getting senior management attention
  • KM being perceived as being too difficult or costly
  • The diversity or incompleteness of current methods
  • Experts might be reluctant


  • People knowing that there is a need for KM
  • Availability of allies in other departments
  • The potential for increasing customer (student) satisfaction

Next steps for knowledge sharing and collaboration in your organisation?

The final conversation on the webinar was around what people might do to progress knowledge sharing and collaboration in their organisations.

Top of the list were to:

  • Carry out a SWOT analysis with their teams
  • Experiment with stories (maybe even horror stories illustrating the consequences of not having a KM strategy in place)
  • Put more of an emphasis on building relationships rather than just focus on the technology
  • Enlist management champions to lead by example

All in all it was a great conversation, and I look forward to more opportunities to continue it with this community.  (The slides and recording from the presentation are available here – for CILIP members – if you are not a CILIP member and would like to know more about this, do get in touch.)



About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Weavers of knowledge in our communities

By Elisabeth Goodman, 4th July 2015

Consistent messages about value and knowledge facilitation at CILIP’s 2015 conference

John Riddell and I attended Day 1 of CILIP’s 2015 conference in Liverpool to lead a master class on how to add value to your organisation as a ‘knowledge facilitator’. It turned out that not only was the concept of value to be a key theme at the conference, but also that of ‘knowledge facilitators’ albeit under different names.

R. David Lankes opened the conference with a very enjoyable keynote speech in St George’s concert hall, a splendid venue packed full with the 600 delegates. Although David used the generic term ‘librarian’, his messages hold true for all library and information professionals. He also used a variation of the phrase ‘knitters and weavers of knowledge in the community’ – the inspiration for this blog’s title.

R. David Lankes presenting the opening keynote speech at CILIP's 2015 conference

R. David Lankes presenting the opening keynote speech at CILIP’s 2015 conference

David set the tone for these important themes that continued throughout the day and culminated, back in the concert hall, with an inspiring presentation from Barbara Schack on Biblioteque Sans Frontiere’s creative Ideas Box approach to providing library and information resources in a different kind of community: that of refugees from wars and disasters.

The multiple roles of knowledge facilitators

I have witnessed a few variations of human bingo lately so thought I’d introduce one of my own at the start of our master class. We asked people to stand up if they illustrated one of the examples of knowledge facilitators on our slide. So we had examples of people facilitating information and knowledge sharing on committees, in project teams and on working parties. We captured a few other examples from those still seated.

(Note to self for next time, it works better to ask everyone to stand and then sit if they ‘match’. It’s easier to spot those still standing!)

Other knowledge facilitator roles identified by delegates in our master class at CILIP's 2015 conference

Other knowledge facilitator roles identified by delegates in our master class at CILIP’s 2015 conference

Martin Newman’ presentation on managing records of England’s legally protected heritage reminded me that Records Managers are also an example of knowledge facilitators. Martin has developed his team’s work such that they are moving from a traditionally responsive or reactive approach to one that is more strategic.  They will also be crowd sourcing images and additional information from their wide community of those accessing the National Heritage List.

Sandra Ward’s historical and forward looking presentation on “Information Management – impossible to ignore?” was also an important reminder of the evolving role of library and information professionals in the context of ‘big data’. I also came across at least one delegate who was now responsible for research data management for projects at her University. I felt like I had come full circle from my first role as a biological data coordinator after completing my MSc in Information Science. Only the complexity and quantity of the data involved is many times greater now than it was then.

Knowledge facilitators connect people to people, and people to content.

Challenges and opportunities for knowledge facilitators

Sandra Ward’s reflections on the history and future of Information Management drew out four key learnings:

  1. Innovation – it’s important to keep pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with Information Management, to keep up with (or even stay ahead of) the changes in the communities that IM supports
  2. Keep exploiting IT – to enable users / customers to do things for themselves
  3. Actively manage the interaction between the research and practice of IM
  4. Cooperate (or collaborate) with IT and with the business – to make information more accessible and aligned with business goals

These learnings raise both challenges and opportunities for knowledge facilitators – themes that we came back to in our master class when we suggested that knowledge facilitators created benefits both for the organisation and for themselves.

Organisational and personal benefits of being a knowledge facilitator - from Elisabeth Goodman's and John Riddell's presentation at CILIP's 2015 conference

Organisational and personal benefits of being a knowledge facilitator – from Elisabeth Goodman’s and John Riddell’s presentation at CILIP’s 2015 conference

Mindsets, tools and tips for knowledge facilitators

We shared case studies of knowledge facilitators during our master class, some of which reflected examples from the interviewees for our 2014 publication with Gower “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry“.

We also referred to Collison and Parcell’s book “Learning to Fly” and their approaches for learning before, during and after. It was good to hear from Stephen Latham in his presentation “Developing knowledge and information management capability in government” that they too use these knowledge learning and sharing techniques.

We then challenged our audience to identify ways that they could help knowledge facilitators succeed.  We got lots of good suggestions in a relatively short period of time.  Some matched our own suggestions, others went beyond them.

Delegate's suggestions for how to help knowledge facilitators be successful

Delegate’s suggestions for how to help knowledge facilitators be successful

Denise Carter’s presentation on engaging stakeholders was a great opportunity to reinforce what knowledge facilitators can do to build strong relationships with the members of their communities. I particularly liked her suggestion of taking advantage of the fact that people like to be asked their opinions, by making sure that you go to them with something specific to discuss, and to do this as part of a planned schedule of regular interactions.


There was a tremendous amount of food for thought in just Day 1 of the conference for how library and information professionals can add value as knowledge facilitators, and act as “hotspots” (quoting David Lankes again) in their communities.  I would be curious to know whether Day 2 continued and expanded on those themes.


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We use coaching, training, facilitation, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just under 6 years ago, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) for which she delivers various courses including “Fostering effective knowledge sharing and collaboration“.  Elisabeth is also a member of APM (Association for Project Management).

Here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014!

End of year holidays – a time to rest and renew our energy for new beginnings

The end of year holidays and the beginning of the New Year are a good opportunity to rest and renew our energy for whatever our chosen direction in life!

They’ve worked their usual magic with me and my enthusiasm for gaining new knowledge has been especially stimulated by two recent BBC productions that I caught through the combined powers of my iPAD (my new toy earlier in 2013) and BBC iPlayer.

Kirsty Young’s “Desert Island Discs” guest Ray Mears on the 5th January was a real inspiration.  He seems to have such a clear and apparently simple direction in life in his career as a ‘woodsman’.  The presenter and no doubt many listeners like myself were delighted by his phrase: “deassimilate from the cyber hive”. (We’ll ignore the fact that that’s how I heard the recording!).

Being a student of or for life?

I also appreciated Ray Mears’ approach as a “student of life”: how he seeks out the very best people to learn from about different aspects of surviving in the wild; his philosophy of deconstructing knowledge to understand all of its elements before putting it together again; and his enthusiastic perseverance in order to thoroughly understand a new area.

Learning from dolphins


I was also fascinated by the BBC’s two-part “Dolphins – Spy in the Pod“, the second part of which was on the 9th January.  The team used cameras hidden in mechanical squids, dolphins, turtles and puffer fish to film and learn about aspects of dolphin behaviour.  Some of the ways in which dolphins learn were especially interesting:

  • Young male bottle-nosed dolphins stay with their mothers, in an otherwise all female pod for about two years during which they are learning about different aspects of life all of the time.
  • When they are old enough to leave, they seek out a male pod to join, bringing their knowledge with them, and gaining new knowledge from their new companions.

It was evident from watching the programme that dolphins have great curiosity and a diverse way of communicating with each other by sound, touch and behavioural or body language.

Learning from each other

Learning from others is of course very powerful.  I’m looking forward to doing so in a seven-day NLP practitioners’ course that I’ll be attending in March, and also to learning about something called ‘Emergenetics‘ that I first heard about in December.  I want to explore the range of tools available to help us understand ourselves and each other – something that I’ll be writing about in the second book in my series of “The Effective Team’s” workbooks. (The first was on Change Management, this one will be on High Performance teams.)

I’m also looking forward to continuing my work on enhancing team effectiveness with my associates and clients in 2014.  Interacting with associates and clients is a great way to develop and shape new ideas – both for creating new programmes of work, and for stimulating the rich learning that takes place during workshops and other interventions.

Continuous professional development (CPD) and social media

Nor will I be ‘deassimilating from the cyber hive”!  Although it is good to take a break from it now and then: my idea for this blog came whilst I was on a four-hour walk on a crisp sunny morning in Cambridgeshire.  However, the increasing trend to make social media content rich is certainly a stimulant for one curiosity and one I’ll be looking to support as I gain more knowledge in 2014.

I often tweet (@ecgoodman) about what I’m hearing during APM (Association for Project Management), One Nucleus, Cambridge Network and CILIP events.  And what I learn also sometimes finds its way into my blogs and postings on Facebook, LinkedIn and, more recently, Google+ (I’m currently disentangling my duplicate accounts so make sure you access the right one if interested).

So, here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014.  What areas of knowledge will you be learning about?


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale (and using coaching as well as training, mentoring and consulting).  Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma, is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management) and a registered Growth Coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme.

Umbrella 2013 – a view from a CILIP trainer

By Elisabeth Goodman

The last time I attended a ‘CILIP’ conference was in the days of one of its predecessors: The Institute of Information Scientists (IIS).  So it was a real treat to have the opportunity to catch-up with so many people (about 600) practicing a range of careers relating to Library and Information Management.

The following blog is based on my tweets, and those of others that I re-tweeted in the sessions that I attended.  (There were many other sessions running in parallel and after I left which you will no doubt be able to catch-up on from other tweets and blogs from the event – just follow #UB13).

Training for Library and Information Professionals

On @CILIPinfo stand until conference kicks off if anyone wants to discuss training

I am one of CILIP’s ‘on-site’ trainers so this conference was also invaluable for networking with and meeting people with an interest in some form of training.  I had lots of great conversations and I’m looking forward to more of these with the CILIP team.

Born Digital?  The British Library at 40

I had not realised quite how wide the British Library’s scope is, and all the ways in which it is developing.  The following tweets just give a flavour of what Roly Keating, the Chief Executive, managed to convey of its 40-year history (and of what is to come) in just 40 minutes.

Really inspiring keynote @rolykeating digital melting the boundaries between departments & institutions & the BL’s fantastic projects! PTEG ‏@cilippteg19h

@rolykeating excellent opening speech – good challenge for British Library to “connect as well as collect”

@rolykeating great achievements re: British Library in helping new businesses and fostering learning

News has broken its print mooring & this reflected in BL building new partnerships with BBC and new media and news centre Phil Bradley ‏@Philbradley20h

Focus session: Future skills and future roles

This was one of 4 parallel focus sessions to choose from, and it consisted in itself of 3 presentations – lots of very rich content in this conference!

Up first was an overview of CPD23 – 23 things for continuous professional development and a self-help programme of learning initiated by Niamh Tumelty and others, which has experienced a tremendous take-up and success.

Niamh and Jo Alcock compared CPD23 with CILIP’s wheel and diagnostic tool – PKSB  (Professional Knowledge Skills Base).  It seems there are tremendous opportunities here for harnessing people’s enthusiasm for learning, the resources from CPD23, the use of the PKSB diagnostic tool and the range of onsite training available for both continous professional development, and chartership.

“@RareLibrarian1: Didn’t know about PKSB online – excellent CPD tool to target your professional weaknesses” for library / info mgmt

Great to see positive take-up of CPD23 & strong mapping with @CILIPcpd PKSB for professional development

We then heard from…

Keri Gray from Sue Hill talking on managing change Jane Roberts ‏@jane_roberts8519h

This is the subject of one of the courses that I offer through CILIP – Achieving successful business change.  The following tweets tell the story …

People are scared of change (especially mothers!) – huge topic affecting everyone in all sectors of libraries. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Big themes for change in Library & Info Mgmt are budgetary cuts, use of volunteers & non-professionals, digitisation

Barriers to change similar to other sectors/professions: reluctance, resources, time, expertise, accountability, need to self-promote

Coping with change – requires a change in mind-set (yes!) – many in room having to manage teams with fixed mindsets

Successful change projects place users at their heart, are aspirational, engage internally as well as externally

And last but not least in the session was Ka-Ming Pang’s truly inspirational presentation (and there were a few other inspirational talks during the conference) about how she initiated the tweet chat #uklibchat – and how it has simply taken off as another forum for sharing learnings and knowledge, and for CPD.

The prezi for my #ub13 presentation is up on the #uklibchat page: http://uklibchat.wordpress.com/about-uklibchat/ … Ka-Ming @AgentK23

The power of SM is demonstrated by #uklibchat to get librarians talking about topics that interest them Jo Whitcombe ‏@jowhit19h

#uklibchat summarised online and archived so always available as a resource. Free way to meet other professionals with new approaches! Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Uklibchat – a way to share expertise on library topics on Twitter. Check out http://uklibchat.wordpress.com/  Alan Brine ‏@alanbrine19h

#uklibchat recognised as counting towards CILIP chartership. Meaningful conversation with structure and professional inputHannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Liz Jolly: As information professionals we can’t afford to not use social media

Jo Alcock: I have some very valuable conversations on Twitter and these occur during work time

Information professionals – using our own information management skills to manage our own online presence. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Where does internet end and library begin?

This was one of the debate sessions taking place during the conference, although sometimes, as in this one, it was just fascinating to sit back and listen to what the speakers had to say!

Session on “Where does internet end and library begin?” Access to knowledge & community coming together are common themes #kmers

@librarygame Interesting perspective on how activities such as book borrowing can be gamified: they have challenges, rules & actions

RT @librarygame: Here’s our new site —hot off the coding table librarygame.co.uk  Unbrella2013

Focus session: Beyond Information Matters

Next up “@gig_cilip: Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow: Brian Kelly, UKOLN”

Brian’s was a very enjoyable exploration of this general theme.

[Incidentally, Brian mentioned that a paper has been prepared to raise the profile of Information Management within CILIP…

As ex-IIS member – good to hear that @CILIPinfo pushing for more emphasis on Information Management]

Brian was followed by…

Graham Monk, DWP speaking on Sharepoint though not (yet) using it

And these tweets tell the story…

Do we need sharepoint to do our job? Personally think share point needs info professionals to properly exploit it.Simon Edwards ‏@SimonEdwards7515h

Key challenges with implementing #Sharepoint are collecting & cleaning the content & aligning work practices

Again – reasons for information technology (#Sharepoint) given as managing content & enabling communities (virtual teams

Other reasons for #Sharepoint: information overload, finding info, rework, waste of resource, inability to answer questions

Simon Barron followed…

@simonxix common tensions tween IT & librarians/information mgrs yet increasing emergence of cybrarians

Speaking at now on librarian-IT hybrids, technology in LIS, and transhumanism. Follow along at home: http://ow.ly/mxqD0  Simon Barron ‏@SimonXIX15h

Nice representation of librarian / shambrarian overlap by @SimonXIX accredited to @daveyp #ub13 pic.twitter.com/fgmTRLSDNz Karen Bates ‏@karenfbates15h

@simonxix: we need to be where the users (of library / information services) are and they are on the internet

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it’s a librarian!

This was the final session of Day 1 and a wonderful case study of the work of a Clinical Librarian, Victoria Treadway, from the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, jointly presented with Dr Girendra Sadera, a Consultant Critical Care & Anaesthesia there.

RT @charlotteprew Fantastic & inspirational .. talk by @Librarianpocket & @sadera65 .. about developing role of a clinical librarian

Subject librarians / information scientists could learn lots re: delivering business impact from @Librarianpocket @sadera65 case study

Here’s our film on the Clinical Librarian supporting ward rounds in Critical Care: bit.ly/172NVA0 Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! View my Prezi from Umbrella 2013 here: http://tinyurl.com/pvku3nc  

Storify: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! http://sfy.co/hNQT  Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

An evening at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) – mosi.org.uk

This was our evening outing with the Library Awards ceremony  (won by @SurreyLibraries)

Now watching video clips about projects short listed for Libraries Change Lives awards cilip.org.uk/about-us/medal… niamhpage

… and dinner followed by enthralling talk by Fi Glover of the BBC.

Fi Glover doing our after dinner speech! So funny! pic.twitter.com/fL1691sYRV anniemauger

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Day 2 – Highlighting and using your expertise

We had an inspirational keynote from Janice Lachance, CEO of the Special Libraries Association International.

Look for opportunities, take risks, make a difference not just a living, Janice Lachance pic.twitter.com/isCva9x2Zl daveparkes

Great to hear @JaniceLachance talking about non-traditional roles for library and information professionals and using our expertise joeyanne

@JaniceLachance Think holistically re: information needs of organisation & align your inner entrepreneur w/ its & leadership’s goals

(There was quite a lot of Twitter chat about her comments on the word “Librarian” – a great word with a strong historical tradition but a limiting definition?  Maybe?)

Focus session: Information to support society

I was keen to attend at least one of the sessions organized by the Information Literacy group, as I also run training on how to promote IL to end users (a combination of change management and marketing approaches that is also picked up in a UKeIG course that I run jointly with Shaida Dorabjee – Marketing and internal change: a case study based approach…).

Next up: ‘A critical approach to information literacy’ with @walkyouhome CILIPNWBranch

@walkyouhome Advocating better information literacy training thru’ pedagogical approaches, critical thinking & democratic engagement

RT @calire: A critical approach to information literacy  slideshare.net/laurensmith/a-… ijclark

Debate: community managed libraries

The last session that I was able to attend before heading off home! It seemed like a change programme in itself…

Community managed libraries a change programme for the community – librarians can support through consultation & on-going sustaining

Terrific turn-out on a dark evening at consultation on Community Managed Libraries in Yorkshire was early indication of engagement

And so home…

On my way home from excellent @umbrella_2013 #UB13 conference – will be writing my blog on the train! [which I did!]


Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer, facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go..

Last week I attended Day 2 of Internet Librarian International 2010 (#ILI2010), to hear the latest on the use of social media in libraries.  The title of this blog is inspired by Dr Hazel Hall’s1 keynote presentation where she talked, amongst other things, about the need to help Library and Information Services users to evolve from merely consuming the information they receive through social media, to collaborating in its creation and evolution.

Two-way communication with customers on social media is hard to achieve.

Hazel Hall, and later speakers Karen Wallace and Nancy Dowd described how social media such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or just simple text messaging, can be used to extend information services.  Many Library and Information Services are using social media in this way.  However, from recent discussions at NetIKX2 seminars on social media, and also on SharePoint, truly two-way conversations and interactions with customers that will lead to actual collaboration and innovation are much harder to achieve via these media.

There are still untapped face-to-face opportunities for achieving strong customer engagement.

My train journeys to and from London and France, are great opportunities to catch-up on my reading, and the CILIP article on ‘customer journey mapping’3 was an excellent illustration of what more can be done to better understand customers’ needs and engage with them in service development.  Erika Gavillet gave examples of how sitting with customers whilst they use some aspect of her services, or having staff members be ‘a customer for a day’ can identify re-designs to make work spaces more effective, result in improved instructions, and generally help staff to engage more closely and effectively with their customers.

I particularly like the ‘customer journey mapping’ approach as it resonates with my view about the need to get closer to our customers.  Questionnaire-based surveys tend to be the default approach to understanding customer requirements.  However even short face-to-face or telephone discussions are so much more powerful in building the kind of relationship with our customers that can ultimately lead to collaboration and partnership.

Branding is also a route to greater partnership with our customers

As Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley of the University of Warwick Library explain in the October issue of Library and Information Update4, branding is not only about names and logos, but also about the quality of our information products and services, and, most importantly but least tangibly, about the actual and perceived value of what we deliver to our customers.  When customers truly identify with our brand, not only will they use us in preference to others, but they will also advocate us to friends, family or colleagues, and take greater interest in how we develop our products and services.

As Karen Blakeman powerfully illustrated with an anecdote in her presentation at #ILI2010, a library user might tweet about the lack of books by a particular author in their library, so that social media can be a valuable, and possibly essential way to monitor user feedback on our brand.  But we still have a way to go to really engage customers so that they become not only consumers of Library and Information products and services, but real partners in their development.


  1. Dr Hazel Hall is Director of the Centre for Social Informatics in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. She also leads the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Hazel was named IWR Information Professional of the Year in December 2009.
  2. NetIKX – www.netikx.org
  3. Erika Gavillet (2010).  Short cuts to satisfied customers.  Library and Information Gazette. 2-15 September 2010 p.11
  4. Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley (2010).  More than just a logo – branding at Warwick.  Library and Information Update. October 2010 pp.46-48
  5. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the links to find out about how Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.  Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog.