23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Tactics Session: Workflow Challenges

September 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


Workflow Challenges: Does Technology Dictate Workflow?
Vicki L. Parsons and Jessie Copeland, Georgia Gwinnett College; Jennifer J. Leffler, University of Northern Colorado
Reported by Mary Bailey

“New Challenges, New Position: Creation of the Resource Management Librarian” was presented by Jessie Copeland, the newly hired RML at Georgia Gwinnett College Library.  Georgia Gwinnett College, GGC, a new state college, was previously a University System of Georgia campus. While part of the University System of Georgia, all new material processing was done before items were received. 

In the new workflow materials are all processed in-house. The entire staff of GGC includes eight librarians and four support staff. Four of these positions make up the Collections Department: the head of collections, who orders materials and has administrative duties; the RML, who catalogs all materials, provides access, troubleshoots, keeps statistics, etc.; one library assistant III, who performs check-in and copy cataloging; and the acquisitions librarian, who pays invoices.  Focus on the new RML position illustrates the intent to treat the collection as a whole.

The workflow is designed to have one person handle the process from receiving until physical processing; moving each item through quickly, rather than handing items off to multiple people.  While it is understood that this may not work in a larger library, it is working for GGC.  It is expected that as the library expands other staff would be hired, but with 5,000 new items added within the past year this approach is working right now.

Jennifer Leffler, University of Northern Colorado, has a different situation. She is also in a new position but in an older school.  With a student FTE of 10,794, the library has 17 faculty and 32 support staff.  The electronic resource librarian was hired as part of the Technical Services Department, but no one really knew what the job would entail and no documentation existed.  After just four months of trial and error, but still no documentation, Jen found herself with a new boss who had no previous library experience.    Steps were being missed, miscommunication was a problem and the previous staff was very uncomfortable as their jobs changed to meet new needs.

To better understand her own job and the workflow, Jen created a flowchart as a way of documenting her procedures.  That flowchart became her procedure.   It became a starting point for conversations; it provided oversight of the processes; and it was easy to update when steps changed.  It was tangible for staff learning new steps and a great PR tool for the public service librarians.

The flowchart idea has caught on so well, it is being expanded at UNC both within the Technical Services Department and in other areas.  The most ambitious request has come from the business librarian who would like a wall size chart with a magnetic back, allowing them to track all purchases.

Questions following the presentation focused on training existing staff to work with electronic materials, whom to train, and what can be dropped to provide time for the new tasks.


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