Thursday, May 28, 2009

27 Things: Zoho, Shared Work, and 250 Words

Shared Work

No one can do all things, especially in a large Library system. Working in one the size of ours (SPL) demands structure and deliniation of duties for efficient operation. Not everyone should do all things. Especially with the public.

To the Public if you work in a Library you are a Librarian. Shelvers, Assistants, Custodians and Security are all viewed as Librarians. Without demeaning the Public, their perception is generally wrong. Every job in the Library is important in the efficient function of the Library. But there are distinct differences between these jobs.

Should everyone who works in a Library do everything demanded by the Library? For some reason this is a delicate subject, especially with those in charge blurring the destinction between academically trained staff and all others. However, an MLIS does not a Librarian make.

The following is my opinion and does not reflect those in charge.

Custodians, Security, Shelvers, and Assistants are not Librarians. They are perfectly capable of doing the work of a Librarian but that is not their job. Librarians are not Custodians, Security, nor Shelvers. They may do the work but it is not their job.

Assistants and Librarians both work with the public but do different things. They answer different questions. Librarians help patrons find what's inside the collection while Assistants help them take what they find out. Librarians know intimately the complexity of the collection while Assistants manage the physical structure.

Libraries need all these people.

Gerald F. Ward

-- Let's discuss this. Try to make your point in 250 words or less, each time.


  1. Touchy subject indeed but not one I'm unwilling to weigh in on. I agree that structure and a clear delineation of duties is necessary for things to run smoothly in a large operation. However, we have to allow for some overlap if doing otherwise would inconvenience the customer too much (you know, we do have that whole service model thing going on). A "greetings" desk in the lobby, there's been talk of that, would help to initially funnel customers to the right place... is this 250 or less?

  2. There's a good article in the current LJ addressing this issue ("Hire Ground," I agree with the author that the "deskilling" of work done by librarians is detrimental to our profession. If paraprofessionals can handle the routine questions, that frees librarians to do more professional-level work - things that have been relegated to the wish-list for far too long.