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Blending, Merging, Integrating: Librarians and IT Departments

By Cory Lampert on February 4, 2008 4:08 PM | Permalink
Check out this interesting article, Strains and Joys Color Mergers Between Libraries and Tech Units about the possibilities of merging librarians and IT departments to help provide user-centric services.
David W. Dodd, the CIO who arrived at Xavier University in 2005, said students and faculty members wanted three basic things: "Provide the services I'm looking for, in the manner I want, and get out of my way." They weren't getting any of them.
It doesn't look easy or comfortable, as you can see reflected in this quote from a failed merger:
Tensions arose when technology workers, ponytailed young men, began sharing the same office space with librarians, most of whom were older women, said Ms. Wagner. According to her account, the men brought in a huge microwave, were slobs, had messy cords dangling from equipment, and said they worked much harder than the librarians who left work at 4:30 and took breaks throughout the day.
While this may be a humorous quote, you can imagine some librarians being rocketed right out of their comfort zone as they experience being "blended" with IT staff. And it can be hard to imagine some IT departments ever refining their customer service skills to the standards most librarians pride themselves on. If this is the way things are headed we all need to start thinking about our current library culture and how we can integrate the best of both worlds to benefit our users.


Submitted by piannuzzi on
One thing to consider with these library/IT mergers is how the libraries is viewed within the budget context. When push comes to shove during budget crunches, the "educational mission" or "instruction" tends to get protected. If the libraries are firmly part of that mission, they are equally protected. Overhead or infrastructure areas - like facilities and IT - tend to get cut. Another issue is where librarians sit -- do we get to participate in the acadmic mission and talk to faculty and academic administrators - or do we talk to other "support" or "service" personnel. A debate that has been raging in our profession for a couple decades.


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