I blogged in July 2012 ago about attending a DMU in-house introductory training course on project management. I was keen to start to apply some of the knowledge gained from this course, so began to think how I could integrate this learning into some of my own library project work. One project in particular seemed a “good fit” for this integration – organising DMU Library’s annual eResources Roadshow.
Event Working Group
For the 2012 roadshow, a small working group of library staff convened to start to plan and prep for the event. A project proposal was drafted to overview the objectives of the one-day event. These aims included promotion of online library resources and raising the profile of the library within DMU as a whole. As unofficial “chair” of the working party, I provided group members with some material at the first meeting to provide a starting point for discussion around the 2012 show. Alongside some observations and recommendations taken from the 2011 roadshow, I sketched a draft “roadshow network diagram” (by hand) – this diagram was taken from a model highlighted at the DMU project management training workshop:
The group found this network diagram useful as it displayed important components involved in the planning for the roadshow. The groundwork was split into four separate stages – location, exhibitors, promotion / publicity and event feedback. These components were set against a timeline at the foot of the page, and provided group members with a visual representation of the tasks and milestones which would need to be completed in the run-up to the event.
Venue Location & Name Change
The 2012 event would be DMU Library’s 5th annual showcase of some of the online resources it purchases for the benefit of its stakeholders. Past library roadshows had taken place in different locations in Kimberlin Library (e.g. Learning Zone). The working group discussed the venue and format of the roadshow and decided to change some aspects of the event. Firstly, the group wished to incorporate some breakout workshops and talks alongside the traditional publisher exhibition at the event. This was to add a different dimension to the event, freshen up the format and allow publishers and library staff to run sessions on particular services, resources or topics that may interest attendees. With this in mind, the working group also recommended a location change for the event – moving from the Kimberlin Library Learning Zone to another library building called The Greenhouse. The Greenhouse was deemed to be a potentially more effective ‘space’ for holding the breakout talks programme alongside the publisher exhibition.
The working party also reviewed the name of the event. It was decided that a name change was needed – “eResources” was a tad too vague for users and its meaning could be lost in translation; the “roadshow” element was just not true as the event was a one-off each year and we were not going to be running the event at any other locations! So, after some close discussion and liaison with library management, the event was renamed as “DMU Library Online 2012”. In renaming the event, the show also had to have a wider scope to incorporate all library online services, not just online databases, indexes and full text journal collections.
It was agreed to host the event on Weds 21st Nov 2012. The running time of the show would be from 11am to 4pm. The working group met a number of times between July – Nov 2012 to organise, update and keep the event preparation on target. This approach seemed to work very well. As the working group consisted of library staff from different teams, the collaboration and liaison between teams was much more effective and seamless, and most of the communication flowed via the working group representatives. It was also valuable to call on expertise within the working group, whether this be specific subject or resource knowledge, logistics / risk assessment know-how or previous experience of hosting library events.
To help manage the event preparation, each member of the working group was tasked with numerous individual responsibilities. This included catering, A/V set up, creating publicity material, social media promotion and exhibitor liaision. The update meetings were a chance for the group to come together regularly to review progress and highlight any problems / changes to the preparation schedule. Dealing with ‘unknown’ factors seems to be of major importance when managing a project – there are some things you may not be able to directly predict, but you can leave “wiggle room” when setting out your project mandate.
The Day Arrives…
It was an early start for the working group on Weds 21st Nov 2012. We had access to The Greenhouse from 9am on the day of the event. This meant we had a couple of hours to arrange the venue as we had planned – setting up the publisher exhibition, library stands and room for breakout talks. The one factor we could not control was the weather – it literally rained non-stop from 9am until 4pm (The blue sky only appearing when we were packing up the show and waving goodbye to exhibitors on their journeys home!).
Even in light of the bad weather the event itself was a success, with many of the changes to the 2012 event working well. Feedback from several attendees was very positive, and all of the publishers who exhibited at the event felt it was a useful and enjoyable show. The working group’s planning and coordination was excellent, and the collaboration between library staff in the run-up to the event, and on the day itself, was fantastic. It was great to see DMU Library promoted as “one” service in one place at one time. So much library work is team-based within individual departments, it was very effective for staff to get together and be on hand to talk to DMU students and staff under the guise of a single directorate.
Talks on the library’s new reference management product were extremely popular with students and staff, highligting that the event promotion and publicity worked well. Some of the more general breakout talks were not so well-attended – this may have been down to the bad weather but also publicity for the talks being too vague and content of the workshops having too much of a staff-focus.
The DMU Library Online working group are currently reviewing this year’s event. I am sure this evaluation of what worked well and what could have worked better will provide some useful recommendations for how the library continues to promote its online resources and services to DMU students and staff in the future. Targeted promotion to different faculties seems to be a good place to start, with promotion centred around specific resources and products. This may be the legacy of the DMU Library Online event, providing a template for staff to use, edit and implement at future library events. The DMU Library Online working group was a major success and it was great to see the eResources Roadshow evolve into a bigger, more productive event. I think I also applied learning obtained from the project management course I attended at the outset of the Library Online planning – using this learning definitely improved, streamlined and enhanced the organisation and preparation involved.