Elizabeth Winter March 25th, 2008
Due to popular demand on the ER&L 2008 Thought Cloud @ http://www.electroniclibrarian.org/tagcloud, a group of 25-30 met to discuss workflow on the last day of ER&L 2008.
The notes below are from the group’s discussion. Feel free to continue the discussion and share more ideas using the “comments” feature below…
Some problems/issues raised by participants regarding workflow were:
- Dealing with change
- New to e-resources work
- Stagnant workflow
- Too much work
- Staffing–limited skills/knowledge (are the people who have the time to do the work willing and able to do the work?)
- Communication between departments w/in your library
- Training (time-consuming, difficult)
- Staff mindset (print-based/inflexible/don’t want to learn new things)
- Huge variety of work (all vendors are different, many different types of tasks = hard to delegate)
- How to reorganize staff to deal with the mass of e-resources
Some suggestions offered to selected issues were:
Re. “too much work”:
- Make print your backlog: Prioritize training people on working with “e” and if you don’t have enough time to do everything, then don’t be afraid to allow print to pile up a bit while you work out the “e” workflow
- Involve students in check-in: Don’t be afraid of “devaluing” the work by allowing student workers to do it–there are some reliable and smart students out there (the trick is finding them!).
- Outsource: Prioritize the duties that need to be done across your department, regardless of whether they are print or “e”; then figure out which duties can be outsourced; outsource them and train/re-train staff in-house to do the specialized things that can’t be outsourced
Re. “Staffing–limited skills/knowledge (are the people who have the time to do the work willing and able to do the work?)”:
- If your organization is amenable to this and you don’t already have the staff in your department, figure out how to involved people in other areas of the library who are interested/willing/able to help with “e” work.
- Sometimes you just have to wait it out and take advantage of attrition. When someone retires or a position is vacated, do the work of retooling (and reclassifying, if needed) it to suit the work that needs to be done. Then make sure you don’t settle in your hiring process–get someone who is willing and able to do what needs to be done.
Re. “Staff mindset (print-based/inflexible/don’t want to learn new things)”:
- Do the sometimes difficult and tedious work of helping staff make the connection between print work and electronic work. Sit down and figure out how what you want them to do with “e” relates to what they already know how to do with print. Then explain it to them…several times, if necessary. It’s incumbent upon us as supervisors to do this bit of critical thinking/communication/salesmanship.