The UW Tacoma Library staff have a long history of openness to new ways of working if it means serving our students, faculty, staff, and community better. Over the past few years we have been experimenting with tools to enable better collaboration and communication. Several have been particularly beneficial for us, and we thought that you might find them useful in your own life as well. In the spirit of libraries, helping our patrons navigate a quickly changing information environment, here are a few information tools that might help you:
Perhaps the most significant new tool for us was the adoption of Google Drive. In addition to organizing files, we moved towards Google Drive because of its collaborative capabilities. We co-edit documents from our separate work spaces, from different campuses, and even the same room. When we plan meetings we share an empty agenda in Google Drive that meeting participants can update with agenda items, and then we can collaboratively add notes to the agenda when the meeting takes place. We make use of Google Forms for collecting information and Google’s Lucid Chart for creating complex images.
Hootsuite is newer to us, but has enabled collaboration on our social media sites. This service allows us to add social media as we create it, and allows individuals to schedule posts for a time that makes the most sense. It also allows us to see what different people have planned for our feeds and gives us a good sense of engagement in each platform.
Lastpass is our newest tool. It’s a password manager that is approved by the UW CISO. A password manager allows you to save your passwords in a vault so that you can access it from any computer that you connect your vault to. It encourages stronger passwords and unique passwords for every site you log into. LastPass Enterprise allows you to share passwords across your team, eliminating the need for bad security practices like writing down, reusing, and using easy-to-crack passwords.
Slack has completely changed how library staff communicate with each other. Slack enables open communication with a group. Unlike email, messages are visible by the team, tend to be shorter/quicker to read, often don’t require a written response, and can be viewed by new team members. Though we still use email for communicating with UW Tacoma folks outside of the library, and our UW Libraries colleagues in Seattle and Bothell, we’ve found that Slack has made it easier to communicate as a team and has enabled more collaboration within our group. It’s also more transparent and open, giving our student employees a better understanding of how our organization works. When one of us is visiting the UW Seattle campus, we can still engage in conversation on this campus, too!
Trello has been a real hit in pockets of the library. It’s essentially an online Kanban Board to share projects, tasks within a project, and communication about work in progress. We’ve found it to be particularly useful for complex projects that need to happen on a routine basis (like updating all the student workstations in the library, onboarding student employees, and ingesting digital content).
This one is a bonus because only a few of use use it. Todoist is an online task manager that allows you to create projects, tasks, prioritize, and assign deadlines. Two of us in the library share a folder so that we can see what tasks we’ll want to discuss in our next face-to-face meeting.
These tools have been transformative for the library, enabling us to share information, plan, and collaborate so that we can offer better services, spaces, and programming for you! Do you have any tools that you would recommend to others?