Better Together @ UofToronto Scarborough Campus Library


Even though OLA Super Conference 2014 is behind us, I wanted to highlight an excellent showcase of teamwork and bridging communication silos: “Better Together: Empowering Library Staff through Mentoring and Collaboration” from Sarah Forbes, Liaison Librarian, Physical and Environmental Sciences and Sue Reynolds, Reference Assistant; U of T Scarborough. A PDF of their presentation is here: OLA SC Session 612- Better Together

Here are my notes:

The issue

Liaison Librarian model in place since 2011, where librarians have more instructional duties and are not on the reference desk. Technicians have solo desk shifts, with 5 people covering the desk between 9am and 9pm. 2 new positions were created to aid this. Each technician has about 3 hours on desk with the rest completing other duties off desk. Resulted in communication silos: Librarians were on-call and not always available; Technicians new to reference at U of T were providing conflicting information to students for recurring projects and other issues; and the reference coordinator librarian overseeing the function also had liaison librarian duties.

Searching for a solution

Having a binder of information, assignments, and recurring issues was tried at the desk, but it didn’t really work as it was incomplete and adhoc. Staff tried to email tips for different questions with attempts to answer, but stopping a reference interview to check email proved difficult. Using the Blackboard program for course management was tried, but didn’t catch on.

Strategic Plan Process

Technicians provided input into the strategic plan. An exercise with

Continue reading Better Together @ UofToronto Scarborough Campus Library

OLA Poster: Something Old, Something New


Creating a Librarian Mentorship Program

Poster developed by: Whitney Kemble and Sarah Fedko; University of Toronto Scarborough Library

During the 2013/14 academic year, librarians at University of Toronto Scarborough are piloting a mentorship program for liaison librarians. Experienced librarians are paired with newer librarians to provide advice and support for liaison librarianship. Our poster will include an overview of current best practices in mentorship, as well as a description of our mentorship program. We will also discuss feedback that we have received from program participants, and future plans to ensure the effectiveness of this program as a professional development opportunity for new librarians.

Who have you encouraged today?


Learning is what humans do, whether it’s early learning from family, school learning from teachers and professors, self development or personal and lifelong learning through reading, viewing, listening, or watching. But we all need encouragement on the learning journey. I am blessed that my mother, a former elementary school teacher, instilled in me a curiosity and courage to learn and ask questions . Who else would go up to a nun in formal attire when they were 3 and ask, “Are you a penguin?” I have encouraged, I think, many people in my career. One close friend who was a one time was afraid to cold call people on the telephone and today is a worldwide thought leader and sought-after speaker. The other day, I was a conference, and during a table discussion heard a great process described. When it came time for the tables to share with the larger group, the person who shared this process hung back, and I encouraged her to speak up. She did and the whole audience was interested and conference leaders connected her with another attendee who really wanted to know more about her process. It takes so little to encourage others and give them the courage to speak up, share, and achieve. That’s what networking, mentoring, and caring are all about. Who have you encouraged today?