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Archive for the ‘Intranet’ Category

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will note that I post interviews given to my previous library students or staff. Meredith started with us at Urbis in December 2007 and I sent her an interview that shows the consolidation of her educational and work experience and how she’s putting her past and current experience to work at Urbis. 

Jill – Welcome to Urbis Meredith, can you tell us a little bit about yourself

Meredith – Well, to start with, I’m really pleased to be working with you here at Urbis. I guess I’ve taken a fairly indirect path to get here, via a range of admin roles and English teaching, but I’ve always been been interested in finding out information and organising it for others. These general interests led me to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Information Management at RMIT and I’m due to complete my last two subjects in the first half of this year. Jill – So, you are studying at RMIT, what have you learnt from some of the courses at RMIT and then applied to the workplace?

Meredith – I’m really glad I enrolled in the RMIT course as it’s provided me with a good overview of information management issues, concepts and standards (and what many of those acronyms and jargon words mean!). I’ve gained confidence in learning new software, researching unfamiliar topics, ascertaining end-user needs and tailoring information. The group projects develop time management and teamwork skills and help you get to know other students – and I’ve met some really great people. The course can’t prepare you for everything because there are so many potential work environments for students to move into. However it does introduce you to networks such as professional associations and industry blogs, which you can access to develop specific areas of knowledge. The work placement program offers an opportunity for hands on experience and also helps you to discover what kind of work environment you more likely to be suited to.

Jill – It’s ideal that you have worked before in a planning company (name the place)?? and then for Melbourne City Library in their Planning Library (your experience is uniquely matched to our library), are there any similarities you are seeing at Urbis, compared to the other two organisations?

Meredith – Well, I worked with Coomes Planning, a small planning company in a temporary admin role for a few months before I started studying information management. This was a small business environment where staff pretty much looked after their own information resources and documents, according to their work areas. I became aware of the kinds of projects, resources and documents used in the planning industry. Later when I worked in a short-term role assisting in the Corporate Library at the City of Melbourne, the range of resources was considerably wider, given the size of the organisation and the breadth of Council interests and activities. The library was also unique in that it was an information resources centre for Council staff, but was managed by the Yarra-Melbourne Library Corporation as part of the network of public libraries in the cities of Yarra and Melbourne. It was a great to learn practical ways of keepng up to date with information resources on a very broad range of subject areas – such as, setting up subject profiles with publishers for alerts on upcoming releases, using topic-based email lists, and building an accessible and frequently updated library intranet page so staff can find information easily themselves. This was especially helpful for staff who were located in other buildings or sites and couldn’t just drop in to see what was available. Now I’m here at Urbis where there are interstate offices and a diversity of business units and resources, but the Librarian and Knowledge Management team are based in Melbourne. There is a small physical library for the general reference books and serials here, and more recently, final copies of planning and property reports are being included too (see response below re shelving!). Email is a convenient means of communicating with library staff, and the intranet is a major source of centralising information. It’s a constantly evolving process, and I think the next version of the intranet (with a search facility) is due to be launched soon.

Jill – Our library has a range of shelving systems here, I think there are about four (4) distinct systems, what is this teaching you about classification systems and special libraries?

Meredith – As a general comment, special libraries aren’t static – they reflect the organisation they serve (and all the changes they have undergone, or may occur in the future!) They need to be end-user focused in order to be viable, so the library staff here have had to work out how to categorise a diverse range of resources so other staff can access what they need. As I’ve discovered, Dewey classification isn’t the full picture, although it is useful for cataloguing general resources. However it doesn’t work as well for the planning and property resources which are more easily located by municipality or regional area. So the library is split up into different sections, and once you get used to that, it does become initutive where things are likely to be. Clear shelf labels and signs are really important (many thanks to my predecessor, Katy Li!) Fortunately, shelving space is not an immediate concern, and there’s still room for multiple copies of some items, and also for a fiction book swap. In the future, it may be necessary to reassess what the physical library should contain and how it should be catalogued – especially in the interstate and overseas offices.

Jill – What sort of technologies are you interested in? And what do you think you will learn at Urbis in that regard?

Meredith – I’m not a real techie-type (eg. don’t have an i-pod or digital camera, and didn’t know the difference between GIS and GPS – shock/horror!) but at the same time I’m curious about technology and Urbis is a great place to see what is available and how it enhances business services and facilities. I went to a presentation recently by a new business unit in Urbis and saw how virtual reality (3D modelling) is being used to explore planning proposals. Really amazing! I’m also interested in intranet development and the Knowledge and Information Management team here have done a lot of work to make the breadth of Urbis information resources accessible via portals on the homepage. They’ve also developed a project summary database which is linked to resources in the library catalogue – so staff can find out information independently. I attended a brainstorming session a few weeks ago to help with the intranet search keywords (ie. yellow stickers all over the wall!) I remember doing something similar in a class about thesaurus-building at RMIT. I’ve also had some involvement with archiving procedures and can see how document management is an integral part of a general information strategy. So, in a nutshell, there’s lots to see and learn!

Jill – Anything else you’d like to share with us

Meredith – Well, I’ve been here at Urbis a couple of months now (sorry to take so long to get these answers back to you, Jill!) It’s a dynamic and ever-changing environment to work in and I’d encourage anyone interested in information management to make the most of any opportunities to work in a special library environment. Thanks Jill.

Thanks Meredith, you sound like you are enjoying your work at Urbis and have benefitted from being involved in many activities, including those that preclude to the Intranet. It shows what skills library and information can bring to a role/company. Keep enjoying what you are doing and learning and your last semester at Uni !

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Hi there happy readers / bloggers,

Happy New Year !! Yes, this is my first blog for 2008, and I feel terrible that it’s already February, but I have been contemplating the content for this blog this year. However, a few bloggers have commented that they love my blog – thanks for that – and I’ll keep continuing on my merry way and stop the procastination and evaluation.

2008 is going to be a biggie, it’s already been big, with Feb being the climax of some important work at Urbis. We are implementing a search engine on our Intranet, and since we don’t have one yet and I have never implemented a search engine, it’s a *real* learning curve. You know, I know all the academic terms of keywords, best bets, synonyms and metadata, but to actually knuckle in there and do the work, weeelllll, that’s a toughie. How to start?? Do a bit of planning with the Intranet Team, well done team, you are ACE ! we did some card sorting with terms and synonyms using post it notes, boy, did we cover two walls in a room! And then…during the next few weeks, myself and the team are doing the hard yards.

Today our graphic designer also showed us the intranet frontpage redesign, which we’ll launch with the search engine, on Friday February 29 ! The day I’m at a Leap into Leadership workshop, a group of us have devised together. Last time we had an intranet launch and I was also out of the office, so 2nd time around it’s okay, as last time the “big bang” theory of mine didn’t happen. I can always make a phone call to check in and see if there has been any comment by staff.

What else is happening in 2008?

  • I’m presenting at a ALIES Conference in March on Web 2.0 Technologies we are using at Urbis
  • I”ve just been to beyond the hype, Web 2.0 Conference in Brisbane, I hope to blog on that
  • Leap into Leadership at the State Library of Victoria on 29th Feb.
  • Oh, and not to forget the NLS4 Conference in Melbourne, December this year

There have been other things I’d like to do, but have had to take it a bit easier and say no to some things to ensure I’m not doing too much.

So, why the slower-ness of my pace?? Well…I’m nearly 4 months pregnant ! SO am taking a change in my career, from being full time worker / career focussed person, to focussing my life on a new little person whose about to enter the Stephens’ life. I have been contemplating whether to blog this news as I don’t want the little one to become a “Truman Show” extrodinaire (sorry about the spelling), but I will aim to give you a balanced view of my change in life. And yes, there is a small bump forming now. So it”s all becoming very real. One other blogger commented that they couldn’t get off the couch during their pregnancy, as seriously, they are all very different, so I guess I am achieving alot considering I”m carrying a little one.

I”m off to watch some spicks and specks, but will aim to be back sooner, rather than later !

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Apologies for being a bit quiet on the writing side lately. So much has been happening, but I just haven’t been sitting down to the computer to make a summary.

What’s been going on?

  • For the last few months I have been working with a group of Melbourne Aurorians to develop a small one day leadership taster course, to be held at the State Library on 29th Feb 2008, more details to hit the email lists soon, but it’s an opportunity to get people to further develop their leadership potential, and there will be guest speakers who will share their leadership experiences with the group. I will also list the details on this site when it’s ready for announcement.
  • The NLS4 Conference preparations are coming along nicely. Recently we announced the Conference Venue and Date of 5th and 6th December 2008, so we are on the less than 12 months countdown. The “guess the patron” competition was also announced, with photos of the patrons going on our “news” site. Subscribe to the RSS feed to stay up to date. As there is another announcement coming next week. The NLS4 team truly is an inspiration, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this exciting conference team.
  • I attended the two day Intranet Leadership Forum in Sydney. The 2 day workshop helped me to get my spark “mojo” back for the Intranet. Of late, the library has been receiving alot of my focus, so it was good to knuckle into intranets and hear other peoples experiences. At the end of the workshop, I listed 4 items I’d like to work on, on our intranet in 2008. This is a great way to kick off 2008 with momentum! Some of the items included: possibly put an A-Z index on the intranet to immediately help staff to find information, implement wikis onto the portals so staff can edit the portals themselves, and implement search or a CMS?
  • I had a gathering of my staff, ex staff and students. I’m getting a collection now and it’s great to see them all meeting up and getting along to exchange information and ideas and to create their own new networks.
  • students-and-staff.jpg

We have, back left to right, Katy, Vanessa and Jill (me)
Front, left to right, Alison, Sue and Cristian

  • Katy left Urbis. Sob sob, she has been such an inspiration to work with. And she works like a machine, hence, we call her that now. She’ll be missed at Urbis and the Athenaeum Library, but Whitehorse City Council is soon to benefit from her enthusiasm and skills. Stay in touch Katy !

katy-stacey-and-jill.jpg

  • On a personal note, my husband spent all year making me / us a large bedroom out the back of our house, with ensuite and walk in wardrobe, we moved in a few weeks ago, and I love it !!

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Intranet Feedback

I ran an intranet feedback session with the Brisbane staff the other day. It’s the first of my end 2007/08 series, next week it’s Sydney’s turn.

The morning commenced by luring them with “Dreamy Donuts”. Personally, I have heard of Krispy Kreme, but not these, but as they were close to work I thought “why not”. Food works, let me tell you. It helps to kick off the session with a bit of a giggle as well as that person in the corner confessing they have already eaten 4 !! I managed to not eat any, very proud !

I try to keep these sessions quite open to allow staff to input their opinions. And quite a few usually do. You have the usuals who don’t say much, so to engage them, we go around the table at one time and ask them the applications they use most on the intranet.

What came out of this session? Well, there were a few words on the front page that were confusing them.

  • Like, we have “What’s New”, they didn’t realise it meant, “what’s new on the Intranet” (we’ll change the wording), and
  • we also have “…in the news”, thinking they would realise it’s about the company, but they didn’t. So, wording needs to change to “Urbis in the news”.

It’s funny, but it can be minor things like this that cause staff confusion and make me realise we need to keep the intranet very simple in it’s wording. I just “presumed” it was simple, as Melbourne staff had told me they understood the wording. Not the same for other areas.

What’s the main big thing here? The Intranet doesn’t have a search engine, and that is mainly holding people back as they feel frustrated about where to find things next time. Well, that’s up to the powers that be to invest in…(EOM)

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What time of year? you ask… It’s performance review time.

This time of year, usually sends many staff into belly loads of groans. I myself, grapple with the amount of various paperwork we have to fill in, and get a bit confused with the whole process and wonder “will this ever amount to anything?”

Well, this year I can see the progress, I can see where I was last year and how much I have accomplished over the year, and I can now methodically plot out my course for future work and refinement on my library, intranet and myself.

One of the most valuable things I have found that has been of benefit to myself this year is being involved with fellow library colleagues. As I work with one part time person (Katy), my involvement with other librarian has been out of my work environment. And it has been very rewarding this year. I also work on the Vic Specials Committee with Katy as I wanted to work with her outside of work. !! She’s awesome and such fun.

So, what are some of the things I wanted to work on in 2007? My leadership skills (done that via Aurora, professional coaching and many other personal reading and development items), redevelop the Intranet (big big tick) and work on my library services (always on going).

Big big clap to myself, hooray, things are rolling along well. I’m very proud.

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Small win…

After giving away the tarmac for 4 days (returning from Thailand), I headed back off to that wonderful place, called the airport, to hit the tarmac bound for Sydney. Luckily there is a small airport just “over the road” and by that, I mean, it’s 1o minutes away from home which is pretty lucky.

But I must get this conversation on the road and stop my faffing…

The main reason for my Sydney visit was to attend the Intranet Leadership Forum as James Robertson was discussing Enterprise 2.0. Mind you, I hit him with “what do you think Web 3.0 will be like?”. As I really like 2.0 and think it has done a lot to revolutionise the way we do things on the web, but it really bugs me when I have to visit so many applications with so many passwords. I know there are an emerging range of products that do bring the products together, but I think I’m waiting for the “big bang” and for something really worthwhile to happen on the web…

As a part of going to Sydney, I always work in the Sydney Office as well, and it’s a great time to catch up with staff. Previous visits to the Sydney Office have proved to be slow to gain staffs acceptance of both library and intranet services. But this time, two teams were waiting for me, waiting to get their “show on the road” (portal implementation) and I said to myself quietly “finally…”. I think the main reason for these two teams coming on board with so much enthusiasm is because the people assigned to Knowledge Management representative in their team are also very “tech savvy” people. Something for me to be aware of when I meet other KM representative staff in team. It truly helps to make the information battle that bit easier…

And, it’s nice to back home again…I’ll be keeping these feet on the ground for a little while now.

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Intranet launch

Donna – ex Intranet Chick – has made a great comment on my site about our intranet launch. And I agree with her, people are busy, and the intranet is just not seen as important to them, in terms of their everyday work. The intranet seems to seemlessly intergrate into their work, and a new redesign doesn’t set off any big bang theories with them, but it does to those who are working on the intranet.

After the launch last week, I felt disappointed for a few hours, and then reasoned with myself regarding the reactions of my colleagues.

I may not have received much feedback via email, but on talking to staff, and when I ask “what do you think of the new intranet redesign”, they all say, “we love it” “it looks much better” “thanks, there are more links on there now” “it’s easier to use” “we love XXX feature” (not a triple x feature or anything *grin*) “the intranet before was looking pretty good, but this improves on that”.

These stories can be hard to capture if I’m not out talking to people. It’s not like I can throw this into a statistics meter and say, “hey, this is how good our rebranding and redesign is” because 100 people say so. But the richness that can be gathered from these stories need to be noted, some way, some how…

James Robertson from Step Two Designs expands on the issue of talking to staff. Talking to my staff is what I have done earlier this year, to gather stories from people about what is working for them on the intranet and what is not. My colleagues are also very clever people, and they are good at suggestions, “what if we had xxx on the intranet”. With this information, I can go back to my team and ask them if any of the suggested items is possible to deliver. For our current intranet redesign, quite a few suggested items were delivered, one was less clicks on the frontpage, so we brought many embedded clicks forward to the frontpage. With the new intranet launched, I will continue to speak with my colleagues to elicit more information from them. It’s a continual process, but a very valuable one. As they are the ones using the intranet and if it doesn’t deliver or meet their needs, they are not going to use it.

And, I agree with Donna, it could be worse as no one has commented about broken links…

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