Breakout Session 1

Library and Systems Staff:
From a Rocky to a Rock Solid Relationship

Taming the Hydra:
Finding the Best Configuration for Library
and Computing Services at Your Institution

Carl Bengston
Dean of library Services
CSU Stanislaus

IN HIS overview, Carl Bengston discussed whether to merge operations, the practical aspects to consider in mergers, and what impact these mergers would have on librarians. He followed this with an historical overview. Mergers, which began in the seventies and were widespread by the eighties, were spurred by the growing ability to use technology to improve delivery of library and information systems, the Internet, OPACs, high-speed lines, and the technology which infused classroom teaching.
The factors which led to the success of mergers included contribution to instituted goals, history of interdepartmental collaboration, climate of readiness in both library and computing organizations, strong faculty support, and a perceived value in having one voice address information and technology issues.
The practical benefits were a greater flexibility to deploy human and/or financial resources, greater cooperation and collaboration among staff, and improved compensation equity and staff morale.
Challenges which need to be overcome are an indifference or lack of support among administrators, inadequate strategic planning, unclear or ambiguous goals and objectives, unrealistic expectations, and too narrow a vision of the role of the chief information office. In addition, the existence of different organizational cultures poses problems. Differences in equality in staff status and compensation need to be resolved.
In "taming the hydra," it is critical to have the strategic planning focus on collaboration. It is necessary to be creative in defining work groups, to eliminate operational overlap where possible, to develop a plan for continuous training and improvement, and to take advantage of all electronic communication channels. In conclusion, groups must value each others' differences, and the strategic planning process needs to identify the reason for the merger.
Follow-up questions were moderated by Vicki Bloom, UC Riverside, Rivera Library.

Martha Smith
Libraries of The Claremont Colleges

Dorothy F. Potter
Pasadena City College

Annual Conference Highlights