by KM Fattig · Cited by 1 — Karl Maria Fattig is Systems and Digital Initiatives Librarian, Bowdoin College, e-mail: kfattig@bowdoin; Chris-.
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71Partners in Time: Creating Organic Connections Between Library and IT Divisions at Bowdoin College Karl Maria Fattig, Christina M. Finneran, Judith R. Montgomery, and Rebecca Sandlin Karl Maria Fattig is Systems and Digital Initiatives Librarian, Bowdoin College, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris -tina M. Finneran is Manager of Education and Research Consulting, Bowdoin College, e-mail: c˝nnera@bowdoin. edu, Judith R. Montgomery is Associate Librarian, Bowdoin College, e-mail: email@example.com; Rebecca Sand -lin is Deputy Chief Information O˙cer, Bowdoin College, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Discussions of merging library and information tech -nology departments within higher education have waxed and waned over the past three decades. Re – cently, in the Chronicle of Higher Education , Foster wrote, ﬁMergers are still happening at smaller liberal arts colleges because the sta˚ within the two organi – zations is still a manageable size; merging at larger universities has not proven very successful.ﬂ 1 Is it pos -sible that one reason for the failures of early merger e˚orts was the narrow focus on integrating the orga -nizational charts and physical spaces of library and information technology departments without consid – ering other elements crucial for success? Ferguson, Spencer, and Metz expound on the four important dimensions of integration of library and information technology operations. 2 ˜e administra -tive (responsibilities, planning, budgets) and physical (o˙ce and service area space) dimensions are just half of the equation. ˜e collaborative (operational) and cultural dimensions are equally important. ˜e col – laborative dimension covers ﬁthe extent to which sta˚ and leaders presently work cooperatively on projects, share ˝nancial resources, and deliver services jointlyﬂ and the cultural dimension considers ﬁthe extent to which the participants experience separate organi -zational cultures, have evolved understandings about working together, or are actively developing joint val – ues, a shared leadership philosophy, an organic sense of purpose, or uni˝ed/shared service models.ﬂ 3While the physical dimension is explicit with collocation of o˙ces, information commons or help/ reference desks, the cultural dimension is the most implicit, and thus the most di˙cult to measure and to change. Kaarst-Brown, et al. de˝ne culture as ﬁthe practices, values, beliefs, and underlying assumptions of formal and informal groups.ﬂ 4 ˜ey go on to state that the ﬁassumptions about how to operate become so implicitly imbedded in the underlying assumptions of action that they are di˙cult, if not impossible, to articulate.ﬂ 5 Much has been written on the cultural clashes that occur when merging library and IT operations. 6 In this paper, we will describe an alternate approach to integrating Library and IT services, an approach
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Karl Maria Fattig, Christina M. Finneran, Judith R. Montgomery, and Rebecca Sandlin 72ACRL Fourteenth National Conference based on developing cultural understanding and ap -preciation rather than on the elimination or merging of cultures, and that we suggest, enhances services to our user community. Integrating cultures often results in one culture dominating. ˜e early fears of a merged library/IT organization were partly the dread from both the librarians and technologists of losing their own occupational culture, which they held dear. ˜e unique cultures of librarians and technologists can be important to retain for sta˚ members™ feelings of a˙l – iation, morale, and professional development outside of their own institution. ˜e di˚ering cultures of the Library and IT groups do not have to merge altogether; however cultural understanding and appreciation is essential. Kaarst-Brown, et al. state, ﬁLack of common cultural knowledge may negatively impact organizations be -cause communication requires a common language about the business.ﬂ 7 Our approach was to reduce miscommunication, resentment, and fear through a sharing of cultures. When institutions expected the cultural and col -laborative dimensions of integration would naturally emerge after physical and administrative integration, often tension resulted, for example, at Gettysburg College. 8 By focusing more e˚ort on the cultural and collaborative dimensions, integration becomes a way of thinking and behaving for sta˚ members, rather than a forced approach. To be successful the collaborative (operational) dimension of integration requires honest communi -cation and trust. Rentfrow states, ﬁPart of the dif -˝culty in promoting collaboration is that di˚erent groups too often misunderstand the types of work performed by their colleagues across the campus.ﬂ 9 Collaborative services and projects involve learning more about the types of work their colleagues do and opening themselves up to new ways of work -ing. Armed with the knowledge gained from institu -tions that merged the library and IT departments over the past decade, and our conviction that organization – al merging was not in the best interest of Bowdoin College, we sought a new model of Library and IT integration. Rather than taking a top-down approach of combining organizational charts, we wanted to create a cultural exchange so that cooperation would occur organically and in places we would never have imagined.Bowdoin™s Library & Information Technology Organizations ˜e Library Department has as its head the College Librarian who reports directly to the Dean for Aca – demic A˚airs, the chief academic o˙cer of Bowdoin College. With over 200 years of history, the Library was actually formed before the College itself. Cur – rently the Library has 33 full-time equivalent (FTE) sta˚ members and approximately 15 FTE student workers. ˜e Information Technology Division has exist -ed, in various names (originally Data Processing then Computing & Information Services), for 40 years. Until 2003, IT had reported to the Vice-President of Finance & Administration. In 2003 a Chief Informa – tion O˙cer (CIO) position, which leads the 41 FTE division and reports directly to the College President, was created. Over the past decade a degree of tension existed between the two departments. Some services that had been the responsibility of the Library (audio visual services and academic computing) were moved to the Information Technology Division. ˜e Library is not only a partner with Information Technology, but also a client, given the amount of technology infrastruc – ture necessary to support the library database, website, and technical equipment. Like other departments, the Library and IT must compete for sta˚ and ˝nancial resources. Bowdoin™s Goals In 2005 Bowdoin College Board of Trustees called for more integration between the Library and IT to ﬁcontrol costs.ﬂ ˜e President asked the College Li -brarian and the Chief Information O˙cer to increase collaboration between the departments. He did not specify merging the two departments, but rather left the leaders with self-determination as to what would be the most e˚ective means for integration. ˜e College Librarian and the Chief Information O˙cer were clear that integration must improve ser – vices for the students, faculty, and sta˚. As with other institutions, the clients of IT and Library services, to cite Ferguson ﬁare often unable to distinguish clearly between tool and content, and they are increasingly confused about whom to consult for help in accom -plishing their work.ﬂ 10 ˜e primary goal of both de -partments at Bowdoin is to provide a seamless experi – ence for clients so that they will not have to navigate
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Creating Organic Connections Between Library and IT Divisions at Bowdoin College 73March 12Œ15, 2009, Seattle, Washington between two departments when asking for help with Blackboard, Endnote, or multimedia services, for ex – ample. An improved user experience would inevita – bly lead to more e˙cient services, the elimination of duplicate e˚orts, and cost control. Additionally when planning new services, it was not always clear which department should provide that service. An integrat -ed approach to developing new services would help ensure that the services were developed in the most e˙cient way. Library/Information Technology (L/IT) Group ˜e College Librarian and the CIO decided the best way to foster cooperation was by establishing a small group and authorizing them to brainstorm and imple -ment any idea that would result in more collaboration and better services. In December of 2005, the L/IT group emerged with four sta˚ members hand selected by the leaders Štwo from IT and two from the Library. ˜e small group was important to encourage creativity and ex -pediency. ˜e Librarian and CIO empowered the individuals to experiment and think outside of their current positions and organizations. ˜e four mem – bers have di˚erent levels of administrative, manage – rial and operational responsibilities, yet each member acts as an equal partner in the L/IT Group. One of the earliest stated expectations by the members was that the conversations would be held in con˝dence and that any positions of power would be left at the door. ˜e initial meeting was held in the Library, but the group quickly decided to meet in rooms outside of either department to encourage creativity, create a sense of neutral territory and a level playing ˝eld. ˜is was especially challenging because both IT and the Library are spread out across the campus in at least ˝ve buildings. ˜ey even share space in the Main Li -brary. Early in the process, using departmental space would have precluded discussing some sensitive issues within close proximity of sta˚ and discouraged out – side of the box thinking, but later shared space proved to be a convenient and useful venue for meetings, re -inforcing the sense of common purpose. While the ﬁwhereﬂ and ﬁwhenﬂ were decided rela -tively early on in the process, the ﬁhowﬂ emerged nat -urally with time. ˜e group felt it was important to share responsibility for the work and to create within itself a laboratory for collaboration Œ a ﬁcollaboratoryﬂ where members could try on new roles, di˚erent hats, support one another, test ideas and reject what didn™t work, while re˝ning what did. In order to facilitate that sharing, tools for collaboration became increas -ingly important. ˜e group adopted Project 37™s Basecamp
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Karl Maria Fattig, Christina M. Finneran, Judith R. Montgomery, and Rebecca Sandlin 74ACRL Fourteenth National Conference spots and facilitating the work ahead. Two speci˝c tactics for increasing Library and IT sta˚ cultural and operational understanding were brown bag talks and problem-solving lunches. Brown Bag Talks We launched a series of ﬁbrown bagﬂ lunch talks at which sta˚ from one or both departments would pres -ent on a topic relating to work in which they were en -gaged or on new technology or innovative ideas that they felt had potential for use on campus. ˜ese ﬁbrown bagﬂ talks served to acculturate the Library and IT sta˚ to each other™s language and practices, while also pro -viding snapshots of services and projects, which might o˚er insights into future collaboration. One of our ˝rst ﬁbrown bagsﬂ featured the devel -opment of the Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan < http://www.bowdoin.edu/mongol-scrolls/> project, a website developed by several IT sta˚ that allows users to simultaneously compare disparate versions of the ancient scrolls. Our IT presenter described the tech -nical aspects of development as well as his collabora – tive approach to working with the faculty member for whom the project was developed. Both Library and IT sta˚ found the presentation to be very exciting and informative. At another ﬁbrown bagﬂ a Library sta˚ member described a recently completed web usability study of the Library™s web page. ˜is stimulated signi˝cant conversation and ultimately led to very meaningful collaboration on design concepts for the Library™s next web page revision. Other ﬁbrown bagsﬂ included a talk by Tim Spalding, founder of Library ˜ing,
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Creating Organic Connections Between Library and IT Divisions at Bowdoin College 75March 12Œ15, 2009, Seattle, Washington Collaborative Strategic Planning ˜e Associate Librarian and Deputy CIO are both members of the L/IT Group, which made admin – istrative dimensions of integration, such as strategic planning, an achievable possibility. L/IT saw the co -ordination of a shared IT and Library strategic plan as one approach to improving communications and eliminating barriers to successful collaboration. Both the Library and IT had in place strong strategic plan – ning e˚orts. However, these planning processes were not coordinated and the resulting documents were not shared with the other department. Over the years, this disconnect in planning processes negatively im – pacted both units. Our priorities, objectives and time – tables were not synchronized, and this led to misun -derstandings, sta˚ frustration and project failures or slowdowns as well as some overlap of e˚orts. With support of IT and Library leadership, we began sharing information on our planning processes, the content, style and format of our written plans, and our timetables. Since both individual plans were near -ing completion, we agreed to focus our attention on content -on ˝nding those objectives and actions that would impact, need support from, duplicate or clash with each other and saving for later the synchroniza – tion of the planning processes. As we expected, we found instances of duplication of e˚ort, but were surprised that although duplicated goals were similar or exactly the same, sta˚-developed strategies to reach these goals varied greatly and even clashed. We also discovered that departments were working on projects that would be of interest to or be enhanced by collaboration. ˜ere were few cases where our timetables and priorities were out of synch. ˜rough discussion of our ˝ndings with our respec – tive sta˚, we were able to start needed conversations between those working on linked projects and to re -align priorities and timelines to better ensure the suc -cess of our individual and collaborative work. Both IT and the Library then updated their in -dividual plans to include needed language and devel – oped a short third plan that outlined our areas of col – laboration. ˜is L/IT plan was shared with sta˚, both in writing and through presentations. Communicat -ing the strategic plan yielded another opportunity to stress our commitment to working together, to engage in cross-department conversation and stress the value of relying on the expertise available in both organiza -tions. Two years later we completed our second round of synchronized strategic planning, but this time we were better positioned to mesh our planning time – tables and the format of the plans. We were happily surprised that sta˚ had identi˝ed many collaborative opportunities on their own and had already incorpo – rated them into their action plans. ˜ere were many fewer disconnects in goals and solutions. ˜e sta˚s had naturally worked together to develop their goal and action lists. Collaborative Projects Clearly there is no substitute for working together on shared projects with real outcomes. It builds strong collegial bonds and helps develop a better under -standing of each sta˚ member™s talents and expertise, personality and work style. Library and IT sta˚ have learned new skills and approaches to group work, problem-solving and project management from each other. ˜ey have the opportunity to get a better sense of di˚erence in organizational culture and how to work within these di˚erences. In addition, working together on a project with a set of goals and a timeline requires sta˚ to acknowledge that this shared work is as important as work assigned by their departmental supervisor. Our list of collaborative projects is long and for the most part re˛ects successful partnerships. Below are a few examples. ˜e Library and IT, along with representatives from several other departments, have formed DAM, a group focused on issues relating to digital asset man -agement. Over the past two years, this group has devel -oped campus guidelines on ˝le formats, metadata and work˛ow for digital audio, video and image collections and is working on a digital copyright statement. DAM participants collaboratively chose and implemented image management software. Future collaboration in -cludes participating in planning for digital production facilities and an institutional repository. In preparation for discussion on a digital reposi -tory, IT and the Library sent a number of sta˚ from both departments to the recent SPARC Digital Re – pository Meeting held in Baltimore in November 2008. Our goal was to bring sta˚ up to speed on the most current thinking on repositories, but also we be – lieved that, by having both IT and Library sta˚ par – ticipate in the same educational event, it would give us a shared understanding on which to base our future planning.
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Karl Maria Fattig, Christina M. Finneran, Judith R. Montgomery, and Rebecca Sandlin 76ACRL Fourteenth National Conference Inclusion Means Success Finally, we identi˝ed ﬁinclusionﬂ as both a pathway to and a measure of our success. By inclusion we mean: better communication and a clearer understanding of when to include sta˚ from the other department in project planning and implementation, work˛ow meetings, etc. Examples include inviting sta˚ outside of your department to retreats and informal depart – ment social activities, to serve on search committees and to partner on projects. A useful example is the inclusion of IT of a Library sta˚ member on the plan -ning and implementation team for the College™s new content management system. Both departments ben – e˝tted as did the project as a whole. Steps to Cooperation between the Library and ITWith increased cultural understanding, di˚erent de -partments with di˚erent cultures can learn to trust each other rather than be fearful. ˜e more that the two culturally distinct sta˚s from IT and the Library worked together Œ it was absolutely certain – the more everything would change. Fear may exist at each of Ferguson et al™s dimen -sion of integration. Sta˚ may be uneasy that their occupational culture will be lost if their department becomes absorbed into another one. We assuaged this fear by communicating to the sta˚ that our goal was to improve services through integration, not to merge departments for administrative or budgetary reasons. Sta˚ may be anxious that, through collaboration, members of the other department might infringe on their operational work, or that someone would take away an individual™s control over the way he/she per – formed his/her daily tasks. We addressed this anxiety by involving the individuals who provide that service in all discussions and reiterating the goal of a seamless and satisfying experience for our clients. Sta˚ may be apprehensive that a decision about the organizational structure will be made without any input from them. We were in a uniquely desirable situ -ation when the President gave the Library and IT de -partments self-determination. ˜e L/IT Group tried to convey to the Library and IT sta˚ that they could take control of their own destiny. By supporting and initiating the changes needed to work better together, they could be the drivers instead of the passengers. Any change L/IT was promoting was surely less frighten -ing to them than merging the two organizations. ˜rough their work, L/IT Group hoped to avoid the feared loss of two occupational cultures at Bow – doin and knew that the speed of its progress was a critical factor in judging its success. L/IT was con -cerned whether the group had done enough each year to make as much progress as possible to truly change the cultures in each group. During the Fall of 2006, the visiting accreditation team recognized the ﬁ˛edgling e˚ortﬂ the Library and IT had made toward coopera -tion. ˜e Library and IT were pleased with progress made, and continue to advance more cooperation. ˜e L/IT Group developed the ﬁtrust vs. fearﬂ chart to help depict the progress that needed to be made in order to ﬁtake stepsﬂ toward our goal of co – operation between the Library and IT. ˜e goal is full cooperationŠﬁco-operationsﬂ or integrated services and processes when it improves services and increases e˙ciency. ˜e ˝rst step to cooperation is to have a means for e˚ective communication, which can be especially challenging when working across cultures. Implicit goals and contextual background must be communi – cated explicitly to the partner. Furthermore, vocabulary within one ˝eld may be similar in words but di˚erent in meaning (e.g., archive, database). ˜ese terms need to be discovered and di˚erentiated for communica -tion to occur. With a foundation of good communica -tion, an appreciation of the culture and core values of the partner, cooperation can be achieved. Figure 1. ﬁTrust vs. Fearﬂ
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Karl Maria Fattig, Christina M. Finneran, Judith R. Montgomery, and Rebecca Sandlin 78ACRL Fourteenth National Conference ﬁClashing Cultures: Cohabitation of Libraries and Computing Centers in Information Abundance,ﬂ in Books, Bytes and Bridges: Libraries and Computer Cen – ters in Academic Institutions , ed. Larry Hardesty (Chi – cago: American Library Association, 2000). 7. Kaarst-Brown et al., ﬁOrganizational Cultures of Libraries as a Strategic Resource,ﬂ 57. 8. Robin Wagner, ﬁ˜e Gettysburg Experience,ﬂ in Books, Bytes and Bridges: Libraries and Computer Centers in Academic Institutions , ed. Larry Hardesty (Chicago: American Library Association, 2000). 9. Daphnée Rentfrow, ﬁ˜e Content of Collabo -ration,ﬂ Educause Review 42, no. 3 (2007). 10. Ferguson, Spencer, and Metz, ﬁGreater ˜an the Sum of Its Parts,ﬂ 39.
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