Special Libraries: A Survival Guide

Special Libraries: A Survival Guide

Special Libraries: A Survival Guide

Special Libraries: A Survival Guide


Learn why special or corporate libraries must align with their parent organizations in order to survive in these difficult economic times- and how to foster and demonstrate this critical relationship.

• Presents case studies of corporate and other special library reductions and closures and provides strategies to minimize your chances of becoming a victim

• Demonstrates how to integrate your information services and skills with essential functions of your parent organization

• Underscores the critical nature of documenting your contribution to your parent organization's mission

• Provides a useful predictive model to assess if your library is in danger of being severely cut back or closed outright

• Makes comparisons of corporate libraries in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand


It was a great privilege and pleasure to be asked to assist with this book. I have spent many months reading and thinking about the contributions and the story they tell about corporate libraries. From the core articles written with some distinction by Jim Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein that provided the idea for this book, to the most recent updates from a wide variety of writers, it is a fascinating account. Each chapter, update, and companion piece has its own distinct voice, which resonates with the main theme of the book on whether the corporate library and more importantly the role of the corporate librarian will survive as we know them today.

Living and working in Europe, the development, or perhaps should I say nondevelopment of corporate libraries has taken a very different path from those in North America that are described in the book. The lesson to be learned from the demise of corporate libraries in the United Kingdom is tantalizing and the fact that such corporate units were never very prevalent on continental Europe, even in the largest companies, tells a tale in itself. From my perspective, I have been fascinated to be an observer and participant in both models of corporate libraries on both continents. I have worked in both regions and in fact managed a large corporate library throughout the 1980s that worked closely with a sister company in the United States that had a similar sized unit. Even then, in what could now be regarded as the heyday of the corporate library, we never felt particularly secure in the corporate hierarchy. There were always issues to be defended about our viability to a series of constantly changing line managers. There were regular reviews of our size, the headcount needed, and most importantly, the amount of expensive prime real-estate square footage we occupied in offices in the center of London, which was then as now, one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to run an office. This factor seemed to exercise our senior management more than any other in considering our future. In those days our collections were mainly paper and microform based and required large immovable filing machines to hold them, so that we could cram as much as possible into the smallest possible space. My solution and survival guide at the time was to rapidly develop an expertise in managing filing systems and developing creative storage solutions for the vast sets of documents created every week. This was an . . .

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