Had a really interesting meeting this afternoon with a couple of folk from Talis. Mark Bush, who is new to the company, contacted me a few weeks ago to arrange it. The purpose of the meeting was to gain greater understanding of different approaches to reading list management. Mark was accompanied by Ian Corns who despite his job title of “User Experience Champion” didn’t arrive wearing a cape or with his underpants over his clothes.

The first part of the meeting turned into a show and tell: with me detailing the birth of LORLS and our ongoing project to redevelop the system, and Mark showing me a little of Aspire, Talis’ replacement for their existing Talis List product. The thing that struck me was how similar in concept their new solution is to what we’re doing with LORLS.

The second half of the meeting was given over to discussing the various possible strategies to use when implementing a reading list solution. Obviously selecting an appropriate system is important. However many of the key issues that will determine whether it is success are not necessarily system dependant.

For a listing of some of these key issues send £12.99 and a stamped self-addressed envelope to Ga… OK OK I’ll tell, please just stop hitting me Jon 🙂

  1. Involve all stakeholder as soon as possible in the implementation process – pretty obvious I know but still important to remember
  2. From a Library perspective it’s much easier to work with academics if you’re not seen as the ones forcing the system upon them
  3. Pump priming the system with academics’ existing (often Word based) reading lists can be a real winner – once a list is on the system is much easier to get academics to update it or at least be aware if they haven’t so you can then nag them about it!
  4. Training, training, training
  5. Local champions can often do more for the success of a project than official promotions – identify your champions and support them
  6. It’s important to know the lie of the land – what may work with one department won’t necessary work with another. For example Engineers have a very different approach to reading lists than Social Scientists.
  7. Competition between academic departments or faculties can be a useful means of encouraging adoption of the system but needs to be done with care
  8. Use every opportunity to stress the importance of reading lists to academic departments, for example: bad module feedback, that’s because of your lack of reading lists on the system; external review approaching, why not invest some time in updating your reading lists to demonstrate clear communication between academics, librarians and students.