UW Libraries Blog

January 24, 2019

Learning new skills through collaboration

Heather Johnson

Less than a year after our first meeting, the Staff Learning Opportunities for Technical Services (SLOTS) working group is proud of what we have accomplished to date. Comprised of staff members representing divisions of the Libraries Collections & Content portfolio who are collectively responsible for the development, discovery, and management of the Libraries resources, SLOTS was issued a somewhat vague charge with an open-ended timeline to organize learning and sharing events that would advance two key Libraries strategic goals:

  • developing sustainable models of collection development and technical services operations;
  • improving working practices to enable collaboration and holistic perspectives.

Luckily, our group has been enthusiastic, enjoying the freedom to find a variety of methods for sharing information. Aligned particularly with the Libraries’ “Creativity” and “Collaboration” values statements, we have begun to engage in exploration, experimentation, and reflection to refine our work practices in a way that will strengthen our users’ ability to navigate our collections.

Much of our first year has been a learning experience while we lay the groundwork for how this group will operate in the years to come. While we initially established guidelines for selecting hosted events, we have been open to trying as many ways as possible to reach as much of the Collections & Content Portfolio as possible and determining what is received well. Some of our activities so far:

  • We created a list of educational links to improve communication about new-skills and professional-development opportunities.
  • We will introduce a blog of tips and tricks for making our jobs a little bit easier.
  • We have hosted and co-hosted webinars, and coordinated “edutainment” sessions at portfolio staff potlucks
  • We are collaborating with our peers at Cornell University Library on videoconferencing meeting series that compare and contrast the ways we do similar work.

While our goals are broadly defined and our activity is somewhat experimental, SLOTS acknowledges the need to measure the success of our ventures. So far, we have solicited feedback from participants in the UW-Cornell sessions (unanimously positive), but we realize that mere attendance and responsiveness may not be sufficient. Ultimately, along with staff interest and buy-in, we will will measure success by the impact that our learning collaborations have on work—work that corresponds with our users’ evolving needs.

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Heather Johnson

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