In January 2016, Gjøvik University College merged with The Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) and two other university colleges, and became Norway`s most populous university. This gave us many new opportunities (and some challenges, of course). For me, as the only one at my library who teach, having better access to a wider set of peers have been both useful, interesting and a lot of fun. Even though it can sometimes also feel like we have lost something (like being able to set the agenda and taking on projects) and sometimes feeling the full weight of the new institution (bureaucracy), I still feel like it has been mostly positive.
I spent two days in Trondheim this week. On day 1, I had workshop with two colleagues there. We are building a literature review resource that will be available in our new LMS, Blackboard. It has not been the easiest of projects, but the resource is beginning to look like something, and we hope that the nursing students and their teachers will find it useful in the end.
The same night, I met with colleagues from another project that I have been working on, namely NTNU Oppgaveskriving [NTNU Academic Writing]. This is a new edition, a complete makeover, of one of the first ones of its kind in Norway, VIKO. VIKO, or Veien til informasjonskompetanse [The road to Information Literacy, directly translated] was considered new and innovative in the early-mid 2000s. It was a website with information about academic writing, where the whole process from idea to finished product was described in a general way. In 2005, the VIKO project landed a library prize for the effort. Still, for many years now, VIKO has lagged behind. It was incredibly text-heavy, with very few examples and next to no illustrations – and definitely no videos. And as time went on, more resources with much nicer GUIs and updated content came along, like Søk&skriv and Kildekompasset. It was time to bring VIKO up to date. It has been a very long process, but the new site has already attracted much attention, and the statistics for the site are going through the roof. The project is now finished as a project. From now on, the site will be maintained and tweaked, but no major revisions will be done by the project group. We decided to have dinner and celebrate. It was a lovely evening, and I think I`ll contact some of them for new projects in the future.
On day 2, I attended a workshop for the University Library Website Editors. We got information from the Communications Department [KOM], statistics reports from the various University Library sites, updates on strategies, and we worked in groups on improving some sites that needed revisions. This was my first Website Editors session that was not performed on Skype, and it was really nice to meet them in person. And this is actually one of my points — Skyping, emailing and phone calls work well when you want to work efficiently and when you just want to fix concrete issues. But still, people evolve so much slower than communication technology:), and it is so much easier to toss some ideas around, to discuss difficult issues, and to find good solutions when you meet someone face-to-face.
I cannot go to Trondheim for everything. In fact, I have not been there more than once for work since the merger. Working with my colleagues are mostly done online or by phone, and most of the time it is a good solution. It saves me time, saves the university money, and it is better for the environment. Every now and then, though, it is important to socialise and to see someone and something new. Getting out of the office is sometimes an inspiration in itself. As more and more universities and colleges merge, most of them will have multiple campuses, and the need to find new ways to work together will emerge. I think it is important to use different methods and tools for communication – as well as meeting up every now and then. I had a lot of fun these two days, but it was exhausting, too. Phuh!