LIS 204:Introduction to Library and Information Science
Kevin Rioux, PhD
Looking at Libraries as OrganizationsWhy do we want to look at organizational aspects of libraries?Better understand the daily functioning of libraries and they types of work performedBetter understand how libraries interact, in a nuts-and-bolts practical sense, with their societal environmentBetter understand politics, motives, goals, etc., of those involved in libraries
Review: basic functions of librariesSelecting, ordering and purchasing materials Developing and maintaining appropriate collections Making information available through document delivery, and other access mechanismsConserving and preserving materialsDelivering programs: e.g., bibliographic instruction, story time, ESL, etc.
Libraries are organizations amongst many competing organizationsFunctional competition:Bookstores and publishersMass media (TV especially)InternetFinancial competition:ParksSocial servicesTax issues
Typical Functional Units of LibrariesBoards of TrusteesOften established by statuteMake policies, plans, goals for libraryEspecially public libraries (academic and school report to deans, administrators or principals)Library AdministrationManagement function of libraries: personnel, planning, policy creation and enforcement
Typical Functional Units of Libraries, contd.Public service unitsAre often headed by a librarian with administrative statusReference--handles user-initiated inquiriesSometimes divided into subject areas or relies on subject area specialists Other possible divisions: youth services, business services, etc.Circulation--aka: access services. Handles inventory control (e.g., check in/out), fines, etc.Electronic information center--handles computers and A/V materialsSpecial services: e.g., service to the visually impaired, bookmobiles, nursing homes, prisons
Typical Functional Units of Libraries, contd.Support UnitsTech Services--generally, prepare materials for easy accessAcquire materialsDeal with vendors (negotiating, ordering bill paying, etc.)Cataloging and bar codingPreservation of materialsMaintenance of physical plantSecurityTech support
US Libraries, as of 2002
Public Libraries: key characteristicsUltimate goal: to disseminate information to citizensCreated by public lawRun by boards appointed or elected to serve the general publicAre open to allMission depends on its communityUsually supported by income taxes or property taxes (ratio between local, state and federal govts vary)Heavily used, but not across all demographic groups. Better educated with higher incomes with kids are most common usersHealth, recreation, homework are common interests
Public Library IssuesPolitical climateAnti-intellectualismAnti-public institutionLow commitment to community among citizensCompetition from other public agenciesInformation technologyCostTraining: patrons and staffDigital referencePublic access machinesFiltering
Public Library Issues, contd.Quality vs. demandWho chooses quality?Entertainment or education?How to balance given the tight budgets?Service to multicultural populationsWeve been under-prepared in recent decades, but not historicallyMulti-lingual staff shortagesNon-English collections (and politics that accompany these)Perceived as non-helping institutionsLack of education/resentment with certain racial and ethnic groups among staff and vice versa.
Public Library Issues, contd.Childrens and youth servicesExtremely popular programs1/2 of all public library users are younger than 18Severe shortage of librarians trained in childrens and youth servicesSocial factors: single parent households, poverty, new immigrants need to be reflected in programming, but not enough librarians are trained or are interested in learning how to service these groups (new advocacy group in ALA: Library Advocacy Now)
Public Library Issues, contd.Childrens services, contd.Outreach to schools, Headstart programs, daycare centers, etc. TAKES TIME.Cooperation with school media centersExchange of materials and expertiseSome budgeting and turf issues to overcome
School Libraries (aka: Media Centers)Mission: to support the curriculum of the school in which it is locatedFacility that provides a non-classroom format for other educational goals: stimulating curiosity, exposes kids to a variety of ideas, entertains, and provides professional literature for staff.Typical chain of command: school district, principal, librarian
School Library IssuesNot always seen as integral to the schools function--superfluous? Need to education service constituency about value, and take leadership role.Technology: costs, training, space, contentChallenges to particular materialsChildren are perceived as a a vulnerable population. Is the library positioned to promote a variety of values and points of view or a set of accepted values and points of view--different in each community.
Academic LibrariesHarvard was the first, but mostly started as departmental collectionsJohns Hopkins (first German-modeled, research-based university in the US) had the first modern academic libraryMission: to support higher learning pedagogy and research among students, faculty and scholars worldwide.Collection reflects institutional mission
Academic Library issuesPreservation of materialsLong-term collections are common in academic librariesAcidic paper on older books makes them brittle--millions of these booksAcid free paper lasts hundreds of years--longer than many electronic formatsData migration and technology obsolescenceQuite costly
Academic Library issues, contd.Higher expectations and limited resourcesCooperative collection development and resource sharingCreation of consortiaNot always possible due to competition for faculty and students, turf issuesPeriodical costsSkyrocketing costs, which causes reductions in overall purchases
Academic Library Issues, contd.Budget crunches and competition for resources on all campusesInformation technologyPrimarily an expense and sophisticated consumer issue
Special LibrariesProvides information for particular processes (e.g., factory, lab, marketing etc.) or a particular profession (engineering, medicine, law).Often involved value-added servicesSmall, highly specialized (and usually very expensive collections)Regularly have to demonstrate their usefulnessDo marketing to justify existenceFair use in special libraries? Not fully determinedVery much a customer service orientation
General issuesLow numbers of minority librariansNot enough recruitment in these communitiesNot seen as a desirable job by these communitiesSupport for minority students is lackingSex discriminationFewer men, but they get paid moreMen are more likely to be administratorsCreation of new tech positionsCompetition with other employers who offer more moneyNeed MLIS?