Wednesday 20 May 2020

Sarah Elsegood - Managing Learning and Development in ARU Library - a Learning Organisation.

We were very fortunate that we were still able to go ahead with our May talk, and very grateful to Sarah for being so willing for it be moved online. Sarah joined us to talk about how she manages Learning and Development at ARU. ARU is a post 1992 institution with 3 campuses across Cambridge, Peterborough and Chelmsford.


In 2008 ARU created a dedicated senior library post of Learning and Development manager. Following retirement of the postholder in 2016, ARU Library needed to be agile in managing L&D and work was initially shared between two managers in addition to their substantive roles. Sarah now leads on L&D, supported by a Learning and Development team, in addition to working as an Academic Services Manager. Sarah told us how “staff are encouraged to take part in the shadowing programme to gain experience of other areas of work, including a Back to the Floor exercise where senior managers shadow the service points”. I thought this was really interesting that all levels of staff were encouraging to go and see first-hand the service and what their colleagues are doing on a day to day basis.


Sarah then led us into an interactive discussion where we broke out in to “breakout rooms” in Zoom and we were randomly assigned a few other people to our group. During the group discussion we were asked to discuss the following points:

  1. We learn every day
  2. We share our learning
  3. We provide the right environment and tools for staff to develop
  4. Learning is designed to enable our customers to meet their needs (and us to exceed their expectations)

It was really interesting to discuss these points with other colleagues in relation to our workplace. Some of the most common things we discussed where how it can be difficult to learn everyday if you’re an administrator or if you’re running the front of a service. However, in Cambridge we are very fortunate that there are a number of PPD opportunities available to us as staff.


The rest of the talk saw Sarah telling us all about the different types of activities that ARU library staff can get involved in, from learning hours, summer visits to a shadowing program. During the learning hour staff from any grade are encouraged to present on a variety of different themes.


I certainly learnt a lot about the different learning opportunities that are available to ARU staff and it made me think about how it would be interesting if we had learning hours within Cambridge University Libraries.


Thank you Sarah for taking the time to run this session online for us!