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Using Checklists as a New Technical Services Supervisor (Lila) Angie Ohler Head of Acquisitions University of Maryland.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Checklists as a New Technical Services Supervisor (Lila) Angie Ohler Head of Acquisitions University of Maryland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Checklists as a New Technical Services Supervisor (Lila) Angie Ohler Head of Acquisitions University of Maryland

2 Overview Impacts on the Profession Examples of Using Checklists Discussion, Brainstorming, Feedback

3 Impact on the Profession A “Graying Profession” Academic libraries are at a particular disadvantage Stanley Wilder (1999) has projected that ARL libraries will lose slightly more than half of all academic librarians within a fifteen year span, all of whom are due to retire between Technical services areas in academic libraries are particularly hard hit by retirements as those areas of librarianship became less labor intensive (supposedly) or were viewed as cost centers and outsourced, fewer and fewer new librarians went into serials, cataloging, and acquisitions, making it more difficult to replace librarians in middle or upper management positions within Technical Services

4 Impact on the Profession Difference in Skills of Applicant Pools Libraries struggle to replace retiring librarians in the face of smaller pools of “qualified” applicants Applicants who are attracted to librarianship as a first profession often are younger, and without the life experience, depth of technical services background, or previous professional experience with management that we might otherwise have anticipated in the past. New librarians can look outside traditional librarianship for more lucrative careers, or are not identifying themselves as “librarians.” (Wilder, 2007) Even with some successes in recruiting for librarianship as first career choice, Technical Services remains a difficult area for recruitment as a specialization.

5 Impact on the Profession Difference in Culture of New Entry Librarians GenX and GenY theories tend to characterize younger professionals as more likely to value “organizational fit,” meaning they have a keen need to feel that their skills are valued by the organization, and to see those skills recognized in terms of the organization’s immediate progress or development. Younger librarians enter the profession without the traditional organizational loyalties or tolerance for organizational hierarchies displayed by their predecessors, possible creating tension in the workplace between different generations, both up and down the organizational chain of command.

6 Impact on the Profession Recent study (Ohler and Strothmann, 2007) aimed at examining retention strategies among academic libraries found: Large group close to retirement (46.2% over age 50, 31.6% with 20+ years experience) Early-career movement, 40% of those with less than 5 years experience have already had 2 or more professional positions in their career 44% of total respondents had less than 10 years experience, meaning organizations have fewer people in middle management or with mid-career level experience to replace those retiring from upper management Early career advancement for younger librarians with limited professional experience and likely also limited managerial experience

7 Examples of Using Checklists: Workflow Examine existing workflow, observing what works and what doesn’t Listen to staff, often front line staff are the most knowledgeable about what in their work processes is cumbersome or inefficient Examine written procedural documentation Is there any? Is it outdated or inconsistent?

8 Examples of Using Checklists: Workflow Example: Serial Order Procedures No new documentation for how to create/cancel a serial order record since the library had moved to a new ILS system, 5 years ago. Staff knowledge was ad hoc, with the end result being little uniformity in the entry of data, vital fields of data misused or unused, new data elements for electronic resources were completely absent What had this cost the organization? Duplicated payments, duplicated formats, lack of clarity or criteria for determining valid orders for all involved, all came to light as the organization switched its major serial vendor.

9 Examples of Using Checklists: Workflow What to do Identify the data elements that are needed Identify the orders to be corrected Identify staff strengths and weaknesses, who could provide knowledge and who needed it Identify training documentation from other libraries and combine that with in house knowledge to develop local training manuals Identify timeframe and plan for training staff Identify timeframe for achieving goals of project

10 Examples of Using Checklists: Technology Become familiar with software, systems, and hardware used by staff Translate this knowledge into plans for growth in terms of personnel and cost Become familiar with the interdependencies between departments that affect implementation/use of technology Resist implementation or use of technology that does not meet needs or creates new impediments to workflow

11 Examples of Using Checklists: Technology Example: Use of EDI invoicing/claiming Additional data element that had to be manually added by Acquisitions staff to each line item of EDI invoiced materials Library recently started EDI claiming with its major serials vendor, but due to the inconsistency of our claiming report data, staff were spending a great deal of time processing duplicated materials sent as a result of false claims, or verifying that claims sent to the vendor were in fact necessary Costs to the organization? Large input of staff resources for both processes, which resulted in late payments for invoices, and duplication of effort for claims.

12 Examples of Using Checklists: Technology What to do Identify stakeholders for whom the data was necessary, such as University Accounts Payable Identify alternative ways of providing the data needed for invoicing, and consider suspending EDI claiming for a while Identify other departments or external vendors who could provide help with the technology or programming needed Identify training and documentation needed to improve processes for setting up predictions and claiming reports Identify a timeframe for achieving the changes needed for both processes

13 Examples of Using Checklists: Delegation Know when to “let go” Develop skills/knowledge of staff appropriate for the level of work to be performed Periodically review the environment to see if workflow changes are necessary Accept that mistakes will happen, avoid perfectionism, develop a culture of “Doing things effectively and efficiently” over “Doing things perfectly.”

14 Examples of Using Checklists: Delegation Example: Electronic Journal Management Often libraries resist the delegation of ERM duties to paraprofessional staff, mistakenly assuming the nature of these resources are too complex for anything but librarians Overload of key librarians involved in ERM process. License negotiation, acquisition, registration, cataloging, and access management backlogs resulted in preventing the resource from being made available to the patron, or forcing the patron to discover the problem if access was lost. Cost to organization? Mismanagement of materials budget in relation to staff resources, loss of library reputation with the end user, loss of value to the parent organization, potential loss of funding

15 Examples of Using Checklists: Delegation What to do Identify parts of ERM process and break it down Identify stakeholders in other departments that are involved in ERM management Identify Best Practices discussed in the literature or used at other libraries Identify tools needed for effective ERM workflow Identify skills present and skills needed in staff Identify pre-existing print workflows that can be adapted to electronic journals Identify or develop documentation and training needed Identify timeframe for successful implementation of workflow

16 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Productivity Over reliance on outdated statistics can mean we are not measuring what has in fact become more important to measure Recognize that as the marketplace and materials handled change, so must our workflow and our measurement standards Not measuring work effectively can translate into a perception of the library’s decreasing value to the parent organization

17 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Productivity Example: E-journal statistics Despite E-journals becoming a significant part of the library materials budget, no new statistics had been created to reflect this new workflow or the staff time put into it. The department found itself scrambling when at the end of a print cancellation year, it could not explain to upper management the reason why claims were dropping. Clearly we needed to rethink what we were measuring. Cost to organization? Loss of an accurate measure of productivity in relation to new materials, inability to demonstrate cost effectiveness to parent organization

18 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Productivity What to do Identify what is to be measured Break down tasks done Desk audits, staff track time spent on key tasks Identify why its important and to whom Identify who will need to record the data Identify how to measure it, develop tools Identify timeframe for successful implementation

19 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Performance Learn the difference between Positive and Negative Discipline Do not ambush staff during evaluations with a catalog list of things done wrong with no prior notification Learn how to manage yourself, be aware of your own faults Ask for feedback, both up and down the chain of command Know how you like to be managed, and seek out that information about those you supervise

20 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Performance Example: Performance Evaluations Performance evaluations had been poorly handled by my department, leaving the staff I now supervised with very little trust in those who held management positions This mistrust also resulted in the feeling of staff that their activities were constantly being watched, and that their work was overly micromanaged Cost to the organization? Staff who mistrust management will not perform to the best of their abilities, will be unlikely to offer valuable information to supervisors, unlikely to receive direction without resistance, creating the potential for loss of productivity and loss of potential innovation in work processes in the future.

21 Examples of Using Checklists: Measuring Performance What to do Identify and review current performance evaluation process Identify opportunities for improving that process Identify and make clear what is expected of staff, but also what is expected of the supervisor Identify goals to be accomplished if performance is poor, and timelines for when performance is expected to improve Identify, listen to what staff communicate in terms of skills, technology, or support they might need to do better, and then make it happen

22 Examples of Using Checklists: Communication/Networking Use both formal and informal channels of communication Cultivate channels of communication between staff in your department and staff in other departments, facilitate communication needed Ensure that you are accurately articulating your department’s work and its importance to others in the organization Lobby superiors and peers for support and a place at the table for decision making

23 Examples of Using Checklists: Communication/Networking Example: Reference Materials Move Serials received word that the reference department had permanently relocated half its collection to the stacks when items checked in and routed to reference were returned Although the project had been planned for several months, and the head of the Acquisitions department had been present, no one from Serials had ever been included, consulted, or informed of the decisions being made. Cost to organization? As staff had to stop all workflow to address the crisis, in this case weed through 17,000 item record changes in order to determine which titles had been permanently relocated, normal workflow became backlogged for the next 3 weeks.

24 Examples of Using Checklists: Communication/Networking What to do Identify and authorize peer communication between departments so that information does not get lost in translation Identify supervisors and peers who can help ensure a seat at the decision making table, or information needed when this is not possible Identify and articulate how the department’s services support the work of other units, and market to internal customers Identify support needed from other departments and start communicating with them

25 Examples of Using Checklists: Negotiation/Networking Become politically savvy Develop a network of peers and mentors whom you can trust Know when to say “no,” politely and constructively Learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict

26 Examples of Using Checklists: Negotiation/Networking Example: Faculty Performance Evaluation Due to a disagreement between upper management and one member of the faculty tenure committee, faculty evaluations had to be redone, causing a lot of friction between those members of faculty who supported the tenure committee member and those who supported the library administration Several faculty members called for a secret meeting, minus the administration supporters, at which they expected faculty would pass a vote of no confidence in the library administration Cost to organization: Low morale, bitter feelings, lack of support or trust among faculty and library administrators, and damaged position for the library with respect to the university administration

27 Examples of Using Checklists: Negotiation/Networking What to do Identify and articulate your viewpoint clearly and calmly Identify and seek out allies among peer group, those with solid reputations and unbiased points of view Identify additional stakeholders in the process and keep them informed Identify validity of both sides and create a venue for discussion with all present, strive for consensus and compromise Identify goals of meeting, and create an agenda to move forward constructively, not reactively Identify areas of performance evaluation process that cause confusion and suggest constructive solutions/improvements Identify and address areas of conflict and miscommunication, redirecting toward constructive dialogue

28 Discussion, Brainstorming, Feedback What are some of the difficulties you face as a new supervisor? How and what would you need to resolve them? For those who are not new to supervising, what are some areas of management you found most difficult? How did you overcome the challenges?

29 References Ohler, Lila and Amalia Strothmann “Retaining New Academic Librarians” Presentation for the Oklahoma Library Association Conference, April 3. Wilder, Stanley J Chapter 3: Projections for the U.S. ARL Population. Journal of Library Administration V.28, No. 3: “The New Library Professional.” The Chronicle of Higher Education February 20, c/careers.html 001c/careers.html


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