ASSOCIATES (2012, March, v. 18, no. 3)


Associates Collaborate to Lead a Staff Meeting at Gordon Library, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Jackie Mushinsky
Collections Management Associate
Gordon Library, WPI
Worcester, MA

At our library, staff members have been encouraged to lead monthly staff meetings. Last Fall, one of our Associates suggested that all the library Associates collaborate to present at a staff meeting. The meeting was in January 2012.

There are five Associates in our library, two in Collections Management, two in Access Services and one who is the Administrative Assistant to the Director. The five of us agreed that it would be good to collaborate and create a presentation. We met and did some brainstorming, one suggestion was to do a spin-off of the TV gameshow, “What’s My Line?” We all agreed that this was a very creative suggestion and decided to expand on the concept. Yes, it’s an old show, but thanks to YouTube, we were able to view some of the original clips which aided in creating our spin-off. It is amazing how technology can play a role in unusual ways.

We decided that it would be a good idea to solicit questions from staff members and include the questions in the activity. However, we needed to determine what would make good content. We settled on the basic theme of, “Things other staff may not know about you”, whether work related or personal. For example, what do you do as part of your job that others may not be aware of? Or, would you like to share something about your personal life that others may not know? The purpose of the activity was not only to raise awareness of a staff member’s responsibilities, but to encourage interaction that may enhance staff relations, which are already quite good.

As far as the implementation of the activity, we decided to use a software application that is available through our IT department and includes clickers that participants can use to respond to questions. We decided on a multiple choice question format for the activity. So, now we just needed the content.

Consequently, the following request was sent to all staff members via email:

“We have an activity planned for the January staff meeting that requires information from library staff members. We would like to know:

  1. Something you do as part of your job that most people don’t know.
  2. Something about your life that most other staff don’t know.

We’re not looking for deep dark secrets, but just fun and/or interesting things. One staff member shared that she met Liberace at a hotel – which eliminates several of you who were probably born after he died – but that’s just an example.

You are encouraged but certainly not required to participate. Even if you can’t attend the meeting please share your information.”

Several of the group members volunteered to collect the responses and send them to another group member who would set up the activity using the clicker software. Another member assisted with the technical aspects of designing the activity. We attended a short training session, conducted by an instructor from our IT department, to become familiar with the software, since none of us had used it before. We are fortunate at WPI to have a strong IT department whose staff is very accommodating in providing training.

The software that we used for the activity is designed for classroom use so that instructors can set up interactive lessons. It was a bit labor intensive to prepare the clicker activity, because it was a one-time activity, but we were able to set it up successfully. We did prepare a backup plan in case we had technical difficulties, but fortunately, we did not need to use it.

Here’s how it worked, multiple choice questions were set up within the software and projected one at a time on a large screen. Each participant at the staff meeting was given a clicker. The members of the group presenting the activity read the questions one at a time and the participants were given a chance to respond using the clickers. Yes, it was complicated to set up, but it worked well and was a relatively simple activity for the participants.

Following is an example of how the activity worked. A question would be displayed on the large screen as follows:

Each person would choose an answer and submit their answer using the clicker. The clickers have buttons with letters on them and the program was set up so that you simply choose the letter that you think represents the correct answer, press a “Send” button and your answer is submitted.

The facilitator then displays the correct answer on the screen, for example:

(The checkmark under the correct answer is generated by the software.)

The activity was a great success. With contributions by long term staff, and newer staff, there were many thoughts shared, both professional and personal, that led to further discussion or description. For example, one staff member said, “I vacuum the scanner”. A discussion ensued regarding this process. Another staff member gave a very informative description about the formal process of acknowledging library donors. Most of the submissions were unknown by the majority of the staff members, and it was very interesting and informative to hear staff members expand on their statements.

The purpose of the activity was to initiate conversation regarding the responsibilities of staff members and invite the staff to share something about their past achievements or points of interest in their personal lives. We work closely together much of the time and department responsibilities overlap, but becoming aware of things that are happening, that we did not know about can enrich collaboration and improve staff interactions.

Not only was the meeting successful as far as the interactive activity was concerned, it was also a wonderful opportunity to share additional information with staff. And for the group of Associates who prepared and presented at the meeting, it was an opportunity to collaborate and gain new technical skills as well. It was a very enjoyable experience overall and we appreciated this wonderful opportunity.