About Me – Claire Donlan, ALT Trustee

I have been an ALT Trustee for nearly four years now including serving as Vice-Chair, Chair and President of ALT.  Before that I was a member of the FE Operational Committee for three years.  I wrote ‘A Week In The Life Of’ in 2010 when I was Head of Learning Resources at Middlesbrough College and outlined one of my busy weeks focusing on typical FE related activities such as student inductions, VLE courses and assessment, staff recruitment, technologies and devices, voting systems etc.

I now work as Customer Services Manager in the Information Services Directorate at Heriot-Watt University.  I manage all frontline services including the Library Service Desk and IT Helpdesk.  It is a busy role with a never ending to-do list but is interesting and exciting and a good mixture between operational and strategic issues.

I spend quite a lot of time on staffing related issues – there are 35 members of staff in my team.  We have just held interviews for an Information Assistant and successfully appointed. Yesterday I spent time shortlisting for evening/weekend Library Assistants, there were 74 applications for two posts. Other staffing related tasks – Performance and Development Reviews (PDRs) have been completed this week.  I have 6 to do which are direct reports and also have input into the objectives for all staff in the Customer Services team.

The focus at the moment as far as students are concerned is study spaces.  The main library building has a mix of quiet study spaces, individual and group study tables and rooms, study booths, soft seating / social learning spaces etc. It is always busy – we have a high footfall into the building and are open 24/7.  We manage the space by monitoring the usage through occupancy and footfall figures from systems and from roving. We’ve introduced an online booking system for our study rooms this semester to enable students to book online in advance. I spend lots of time collating and analysing data about the usage of the service we deliver including access (footfall/occupancy), usage (loans, returns etc.), self-service facilities, enquiries, printing and printers, IT tickets and issues etc. We use this data to measure impact and inform developments.  I spend time at the IT helpdesk as well as the library and we’re working on improving communication between first and second/third line services and triaging issues for departments and services across the university.

Communication and feedback plays a big part in what I do.  I officially record any complaints that come to information Services (we don’t get many) and also deal with comments and suggestions.  Students can use a variety of channels to let us know about our services – we have a Tell-IS alert service which is text, iMessage and email for feedback.  I manage the department’s facebook page and twitter account and the social media development group.  I also chair the Service Development Group which looks at operational and strategic developments for the Directorate and there are plans for building and service improvements for next year – everything from new online resources, the VLE, stock relegation, a new lift and study spaces across the university campus.

One important area that I’m leading on is Customer Service Excellence and how we can achieve this external accreditation for our services in the next year or so.  I liaise with colleagues at University of Edinburgh, Napier University and Queen Margaret University to share information and experiences regarding CSE.  Other external groups that I’m involved in apart from ALT, are Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency (ELISA) and Customer Services Group UK (CSGUK).

Claire Donlan
Heriot-Watt University

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member

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