Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Visit to Boston Spa

I had the opportunity to attend the FIL@BL event last week which took place at Boston Spa. I’ve been before, although not for a few years, and as well as listening to some interesting talks, I do enjoy taking the tour. It’s a good opportunity to see things from ‘the other side’ – what happens to our requests once we’ve sent them off on their digital journey via ARTEmail (or API if you have a new fangled fancy system!) Having visited before, I am well aware of the size of the building however, walking around I always feel it’s much bigger than I remember. I don’t know how people manage to find their way around without a map and a compass! It’s also good to be able to put faces to the names of the people you speak to on the phone when you call Customer Service, however I think everyone’s favourite stopping point is the newer area with the ‘robots’ that whizz along the aisles collecting boxes from shelves that seem to go on forever!

This time we had a talk on Copyright which was more focused on providing accessible copies and it’s fair to say I learned a few things there. Another interesting presentation was about unmediated requesting which definitely made me think about ways that we could improve our service, not only for students but also with regard to saving staff processing time. Ebook lending was another area that everyone is interested in so it was good to have some insight from a company who actually deal with this kind of thing. And as always, a bit of BL history never goes amiss! I was quite glad I asked my Line Manager to come along as she is just learning about ILL and although some of what was talked about didn’t make a lot of sense to her she was intrigued by other aspects of the talks. I have a feeling we’ll be having some interesting meetings in the next few weeks….!

As well as touring the building and listening to presentations, these visits often end up being good therapy sessions. By that I mean, if you have to travel the day before and stay overnight, you probably have the opportunity to meet up with colleagues for dinner and that’s where a lot of the valuable talking is done. Just having the opportunity to find out what’s going on with people doing the same job in different places, sharing experiences, getting insights or helpful hints, even just being able to moan to someone who understands is almost worth the trip in itself! If you haven’t been to any events, FIL@BL is probably a good one to start with. Not only does it give you a good idea of how BL works but you have the opportunity to meet likeminded people who are probably having the same day to day experiences and encountering the same problems!

Hopefully see you all at the next FIL Conference – I’ll probably need another ‘therapy’ session by then!

Joanne Docherty
FIL Committee

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