Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
If someone sought out to find a librarian 100 years ago, they would most likely go to the library to find them. It might be their K-12 school library, their university’s library, or even their city library, but a building with a collection of books would be their singular vision of that profession. Today, the installation of librarians is much more diverse and companies are employing librarians in a multitude of ways and environments as they strive to control their data chaos. The nature of these collections vary between types of libraries, but the structure of each contains certain parallels such as an organizational hierarchy, the mission to serve the client, and the need for governance as illustrated in the following examination of public libraries, academic libraries, and corporate libraries. Further, each type of library contains collections of “data objects, which are available physically on-side or accessible remotely. this collection reflects the needs and interests of the specific ‘domain’ and institution” (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). In each, the collections are enabled to be discoverable through the use of metadata and catalogs (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). This foundational knowledge helps information professionals adapt their skills to different types of information organizations.
At a public library, typically the library director will report to a library board (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). The exact models of these boards might differ from appointed or elected officials, generally based on whether the library is independent of the city, but dependably there is a level of governance above the lead position in the organization (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). The funding in public libraries generally comes from the municipality for which they provide service (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018).
An academic library, such as what you would find at a college or university, is not a standalone entity, but rather is linked inextricably to the learning institution that it serves, much like a public library is linked to the municipality that it serves. In an academic library, the library staff ultimately report to a university librarian, dean, or director, who in turn answers to a vice president or provost at the college (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). At the top of the chain within an academic library setting is the president of the institution who reports to a governing board. The budget for an academic library is generally set by the provost (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018).
The head of a corporate library is generally a department head within the department where the information professional is embedded, or the head of a disparate but related department such as knowledge management, research, or records (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). Funding for a corporate library is set by the budget constraints of the organization which are dependent on the perceived value of the function within the organization and the demonstrated return on investment of the work performed (Haycock & Romaniuk, 2018). Corporate librarians often manage born-digital assets as opposed to the analog or digitized materials that are often in academic or public libraries (Dee et al., 2015). This can provide different challenges since these materials often exclusively exist in unstructured online folders or on company-owned local storage (Dee et al., 2015).
Since I only have professional experience in corporate or special libraries, I found incredible value in INFO204 and the coursework there to familiarize myself with traditional library structures and processes. In that course, in particular, the assignments prompted me to work with peers who were employed in traditional libraries on projects that explored the intricacies of public libraries, which was both eye-opening and reassuring in its similarities to what I’d experienced professionally.
During my time as a Digital Asset Manager at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I was often dismayed that I wasn’t able to integrate with the librarian community at the university. In that position, I answered to my department manager who answered to the dean, but within the realm of information management in that department, I was completely independent and not expected to design my systems or processes with a greater information management credo or methods in mind. Before I left for my current position I was able to make contact with the University Librarian, and she was surprised that I would want to become part of the community of librarians because she didn’t consider that to be an information management discipline. In that position as well as in my current position managing learning and marketing assets for a privately held company, I can see that the characteristics of each are similar in structure and hierarchy, and in each, the demonstration of value must be made and reported up to the governing entity for further funding and investment.
I selected this assignment as a demonstration of my understanding of a public library, which is an organization type that I had previously only visited as a patron. The product of a group assignment, this paper examined the existing strategic plan of a large public library, including its mission, vision, and an analysis of its value to the community.
The second part of the organizational analysis demonstrates my understanding of organizational settings through the delivery of a proposed strategic plan based on the research performed on the institution of Part I, above. This strategic plan utilized the literature review of Part I to deliver five organizational goals to improve the value of the library to the community and also identified how success in these initiatives would be measured.
I am submitting my exploratory essay on Digital Asset Management as an example of my understanding of emerging fields in information science, and how this emerging field aligns with other information organization positions. The essay explores the competency criteria and education employers value in this emerging field.
Despite the many differences in organizational environments in which information professionals practice, there are numerous common tropes and structures among them, including the need to demonstrate value, the hub and spoke model with a parent organization, and the priority of the client’s needs related to the domain of the collection. While the field of information management explodes in previously unimagined ways, traditional libraries need to embrace these new fields emerging within their organizations to increase the profile and presence of the profession.
Dee, C. R., Abram, S., & Hunt, D. (2015). Information Centers. In Information services today: An introduction. Rowman & Littlefield.
Haycock, K., & Romaniuk, M.-J. (Eds.). (2018). The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (Second edition). Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.