Thank you very much.
Honourable co-chairs, senators and members of the House of Commons, it is a great pleasure to be back before you to present, along with my colleague, the assistant parliamentary librarian Catherine MacLeod. We look forward to hearing your views and advice on client feedback mechanisms. I can think of no better forum to have this discussion.
Shortly after assuming my new role as Parliamentary Librarian, I signalled to my management team and to all employees that active and ongoing communication with parliamentarians and their staff is essential to going forward.
This issue was raised at one of your committee's previous meetings. Mr. Ouellette then asked how we will consult members. He also wanted to know whether those consultations would be followed by a report, as well as concrete measures.
That was an excellent question, and we discussed it among ourselves afterwards. I will share with you what I learned and the ideas we propose to improve our approach.
We want to hear from you, your colleagues, your staff and the public who interact with us. Client feedback is a popular subject, thanks in part to social media. Those who receive bad service or faulty products have recourse to an international platform to complain immediately. This environment has sensitized private and public sector organizations to stay close to their clients and to listen carefully.
While social media is not the primary driver to improve client feedback at the library, it's important as part of the larger context in which we operate.
Continuous improvement of our products and services is absolutely essential. Our role is to support and serve you. We need to align what we offer to what you need. As your needs change, so must we.
The library has always been receptive to constructive feedback, be it negative or positive. Library employees are in regular and close contact with the people they support and with whom they have ongoing exchanges and communications.
From experience, I know that parliamentarians are not usually reluctant to say what they think. We are happy to work in an environment where we hear your comments. It is our pleasure to respond to them.
For example, our analysts work closely with committee chairs and members and they adapt their products in accordance with the instructions and comments they receive.
Library management has consulted with committee and association chairs about the support they receive from the library. Nevertheless, the issue is that our connections with parliamentarians may be irregular and infrequent. They leave out some of our products and services, and the feedback we receive is not consistently captured or shared in the library to inform improvement, modernization and change.
Concerning this point, you can see on the third slide a list of many tools we already use to find out what you and your staff think about our work. Members of the public, for whom we provide guided visits and educational programs, are also part of our clientele. Therefore, we also want to get their feedback.
If you have the same reaction to this list as I had, you may be asking if this covers all that the library delivers.
How do we gather and analyze what we hear and, possibly, how do we take what we have learned and improve our work to deliver what parliamentarians want?
I would now like to take a few moments to talk to you about one of our points of contact with you and your colleagues, as that is one of my priorities.
I am talking about the library ambassador program. This outreach program has existed since 2011, and it assigns a library ambassador to each new senator or MP.
Those employees are trained and well-versed to brief new parliamentarians on all library services and products. Ambassadors connect parliamentarians and their staff to the appropriate library experts based on their needs and interests. They can provide customized follow-up.
The thing with the ambassadors program, though, is that while it is solid, it could be, and will be, even better. For example, in the past it generally operated in the year following an election and then withered away. Given the very high turnover of staff in many parliamentarians' offices, it is my view that this program should be ongoing. There is an opportunity to help you by educating your new staff about all the ways in which the library is available to support you. We have recently launched our recruitment campaign for library ambassadors. We hope that many library employees will volunteer to be part of the program. The enhanced program will allow us to have an ongoing relationship with you and your offices, which I hope will facilitate the sharing of constructive feedback.
Now I would appreciate your advice. Parliamentarians have an extensive and diverse set of responsibilities and commitments, and I know that your time is precious. The question is this: How do you think we should ask you about the support we offer? Given that we are in an extremely busy year, my sense is that we should increase our channels for feedback incrementally. I would appreciate your views on the following two-step approach. We've broken it down.
We now go to the next slide.
What we would like to do between now and the federal election is improve the rating form for individual research requests and develop a rating form for reference requests. We'd like to expand client feedback efforts in the library branches. We would also like to implement a client feedback initiative for new tours in the Senate of Canada building and in the West Block. Perhaps we could have short interviews with participants in these tours. We would also like to develop a feedback mechanism for the library collection services.
I would like to draw your attention to this last point. As you probably know, our collection is mostly used by our librarians and analysts to conduct analysis and research. While perhaps less visible than other parts of the library, the collection is an integral resource for us to support you. It is very much a part of this picture.
For the 43rd Parliament, we will have an extensive orientation program. This will include briefing sessions for all parliamentarians and their staff, provided by library ambassadors. We will have a series of seminars and information sessions that respond to parliamentarians' specific needs early in the life of the new Parliament. There will be targeted research publications on current and emerging issues of interest to parliamentarians. We will have promotional activities to raise awareness of the library service offerings, whether it be in-branch reference services, news monitoring or public education programming. There will also be a refreshed library-parliamentary intranet providing access to our products and services. As mentioned, we will ensure that the ambassador program includes return visits and the solicitation of feedback.
In the future, we will continue to improve our mechanisms for obtaining client feedback. Our goal is to adopt a strategic approach containing targeted, adapted and integrated feedback mechanisms, which will enable us to assess and continuously improve your spaces, our products and our services.
I see this committee as playing an important role in helping us to better understand and act on the needs of parliamentarians. As always, we look forward to your views, your advice and your comments.