For some decades libraries have operated under two general departments (or silos): technical services and public services. This legacy organization structure may now be hindering libraries. The division between working with the public and working behind the scenes is not as clear cut as it once was.
For example, our methods through the 1980’s and even still evident today, was system-focused, but we continue to strive for user-focused models. If the cataloging department is cataloging items with no input from the users, how do they expect to serve their needs? Moreover, the technology-side of technical services often deals with the public through training sessions, either one-on-one or classroom based, and with staff.
These silos served their purpose in our past, but perhaps this is not the best way to move forward. Perhaps our “technical services” department needs to work directly with the public to see how they actually search for materials. Perhaps the mystery of “technical services” procedures should be transparent to “public service” workers.
These silos often create a sense of competition between departments. They also lead to turf-wars and battles they do not improve services or programs for the public. I tell the students in my technical services class that if they think they won’t have to deal with people that they are in the wrong profession.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we need to classify departments to make it easier to manage, but this model simply does not work anymore. We all deal with the public in some regard, and if we don’t we should be fired.
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