The Administration and Management of Integrated Library Systems: A Survey and Results

Article excerpt

The Pennsylvania State University Libraries developed a committee organizational structure (composed of a steering committee and functional expert teams) to administer and manage its integrated library system. This paper will summarize that organizational structure and highlight management trends that were revealed as a result of a survey to CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) libraries. Key patterns emerged in the areas of decision making, collaboration and reporting structure, and communication that may serve as standards in the discussion revolving around the best way to administer and manage an integrated library system. Decision making is being brought to the functional level, the need for positive collaboration between library departments is being realized, and the distribution of expertise throughout the libraries has facilitated the communication process.

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The Pennsylvania State University Libraries migrated to a new integrated library system (ILS) vendor in the summer of 2001. Prior to and during implementation, a myriad of committees and subcommittees focusing on specific functional areas of the various modules or clients were created. Once beyond implementation, the libraries needed to find a productive and efficient way of continuing to manage and administer their new ILS system. There was a strong desire to streamline the management of the system and to empower those who best understood the system and worked most closely with it, so that they could make decisions and move the libraries forward. The assistant dean for technical and access services worked with her colleagues in libraries administration, along with digital library technologies (a division of the university's information technology services), to devise a new structure to administer and manage the new system at functional levels, rather than in a more traditional, hierarchical structure.

To that end, a steering committee structure was created, composed of representatives from the various functional or module areas in the ILS system. These areas are circulation/academic reserves, acquisitions, cataloging, public access/WebCat, serials, and systems administration/technology support (see figure 1). This committee of seven has two cochairs: the head of cataloging services and a librarian from the Digital Library Technologies (DLT) unit. It was felt that sharing the chairmanship of the committee between the libraries and DLT would foster good communication and facilitate work flow. This steering committee includes representation from Penn State's various campus libraries throughout the state as well as the Hershey Medical Center Library. The steering committee is empowered to make decisions regarding policies and new initiatives, such as interface issues and systems operation, including enhancement recommendations and problem resolution.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The steering committee also was asked to direct the activities of six "expert teams," representing the same functional areas identified above. These experts are individuals who are highly knowledgeable about the system. One member of each expert team is also a member of the steering committee to ensure that the proper communication channels are in place. Each expert team has several important and broad areas of responsibility. These include:

* Coordinating training

* Coordinating testing and evaluation of new releases, procedures, and initiatives

* Coordinating scheduling and implementation of new releases

* Serving as forum masters, which involves monitoring the ILS Web site and making enhancement requests

* Troubleshooting

* Determining time lines and new product development for DLT

* Coordinating scheduling and running of reports

* Creating documentation

* Providing product assessment

Thus, the steering committee provides the administrative nucleus of the new management structure, and the expert teams provide the knowledge base. …