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From Print to Online: Revamping Technical Services with a Distributed Workflow Model


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In order to improve patron access to the library's collection of electronic resources, upgrade staff competencies for working with electronic resources, and enhance workflow efficiencies, both the Technical Services Department of American University’s Pence Law Library and the Information Delivery Services division at American University’s Bender Library implemented reorganizations. These two libraries, however, chose different organizational models. The law library redefined itself through a distributed model using existing staff. In contrast, the Bender Library formed a centralized Electronic Resource Management Unit to better manage access to and discovery of the electronic resource collection. The presenters will examine the successes and challenges of revising workflows, reassigning tasks, and redistributing print-based work to address the growing needs of electronic collections and diminished volume of print materials in both a centralized and distributed model. This program also provides an overview of project management techniques and how these techniques were implemented and supplemented in order to evolve the skills of the staff at both libraries. The program will also provide an overview of how a new vision and new goals were crafted; how workflows were reviewed and revised; and how jobs were rewritten and reassigned. In addition, the presenters will address shared challenges with current workflows and organizational structures. The intended audience is librarians in smaller to mid-sized libraries who do not have a librarian or department dedicated to electronic resources but who need to tackle electronic resources workflows and evolve staff's print-based skills to accommodate the needs of electronic resources.

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From Print to Online: Revamping Technical Services with a Distributed Workflow Model

  1. 1. FROM PRINT TO ONLINE:Revamping Technical Services with aDistributed Workflow ModelChristine K. DulaneyAssoc. Law Librarian for Technical & Metadata ServicesPence Law LibraryAmerican University
  2. 2. Three parts:1. The pressures of change2. The process of reorganizing3. What we learned
  3. 3. “You go to war with the armyyou have—not the army youmight want or wish to have ata later time.”Donald Rumsfeld
  4. 4. Lifecycle of print resourcesAcquire Describe Shelve
  5. 5. Linear organizational structureLibrary DirectorHead of TechnicalServicesHead ofAcquisitions/SerialsHead ofCataloging/SerialsHead of LibrarySystems/ILS/Automation
  6. 6. Characteristics• Groupings by specialty• Stability• Controlled• Handles routine activities• Handles repetitive activities• Goal: EFFICIENCY
  7. 7. Lifecycle of electronic resourcesAcquireDescribeAccessMaintainEvaluate
  8. 8. Disruptions at all levels• Collection• Users• Expectations• Library mission
  9. 9. Challenges for Technical Services• Work flow• Policies and procedures• Quantity or work• Changes in technology• New tasks and responsibilities• New skills
  10. 10. Questions to ask ourselves• Do we understand all the tasks involved withmanaging electronic resources?• Do we have the necessary skills?• How do we discover what we don’t know?• Are we ready to face the next new change?
  11. 11. New relationships
  12. 12. The goals• Revise workflows• Define new e-resource tasks• Redistribute work evenly
  13. 13. Project Management• A project is a temporary endeavor with adefined beginning and end.• Project management is the discipline ofplanning, organizing, motivating, andcontrolling resources to achieve specific goals.
  14. 14. Project stages• Project initiation• Planning and design of the project• Executing the work• Monitoring and controlling the process• Completion
  15. 15. Phase 1: PROJECT INITIATION• Established a task force• Define problem• Set goals• Involve staff
  16. 16. Phase 2: PROJECT PLANNING ANDDESIGN• Outcomes• Limitations• Timeline• Assessment of success
  17. 17. Phase 3: PROJECT EXECUTION• Staff involvement via brainstorming:– What works well?– What doesn’t work well?– What do you need?• Understand the current work– Who does what?
  18. 18. Phase 3: PROJECT EXECUTION• What’s the new work?• Monthly themes– What’s the issue?– What do we do already?– What are new tasks?– Who should do it?– Did test case work?– Do we have documentation?
  19. 19. Phase 4: MONITORING ANDCONTROLLINGAssessing success:• New position descriptions• New procedures manual• New skills and training• New relationships
  20. 20. Phase 5: COMPLETIONLessons learned:• Breaking the mental model• Change of focus from efficiency to learning• Teaming• New leadership model
  21. 21. 1. THE MENTAL MODEL
  22. 22. Breaking the mental model• Re-envision who we were and how we worked• Learning as we were working• Move away from a linear model oforganization
  23. 23. 2. Changing from efficiency to learningEFFICIENCY LEARNINGWORK PROCESS Stable, routine Tentative, changingCHANGE Overwhelming ConstantFEEDBACK One- way Two- wayEMPLOYEE JUDGMENT Discouraged EncouragedFEAR Common AvoidedLEADERS Answer Provide direction
  24. 24. 3. Teaming• Speaking up• Collaborating• Experimentation• Reflection
  25. 25. 4. New leadership model• Identify shared goals• Model good communication• Failures are learning opportunities• Make it safe to speak up• Encourage difficult conversations• Expect conflict and learn how to moderate it
  26. 26. The Future
  27. 27. QUESTIONS?Kari Schmidtschmidt@american.eduChristine