SzewczykKłos, Part 4
Structural and Organizational Changes in Academic Libraries Survey Studies
In order to fill in the gaps in our knowledge concerning organizational changes and modern management methods, as well as to estimate the results of their implementation, in the libraries of staterun higher education schools a survey was conducted on Organizational changes in academic libraries. The survey was sent to 50 libraries in May 2006. Twentythree libraries from various academic centres replied: 10 academic libraries, six libraries at universities of technology, four libraries from schools of economics, two medical libraries and one agricultural library. The number of those libraries that did reply is not quite satisfactory when compared with the overall number of the libraries; however, it remains within the standards in surveys of this sort. The survey contained eight questions, each of which had two parts: one, in which a yesno answer was required, and the other one, in which the respondent could give a more detailed explanation of his/her choice.
The answer to the first question, Did your library introduce changes in its organizational structure in the last six years? was yes in 11 cases and no in 12 cases. The range of these changes, as explained by the respondents, varied but the focus was on merging divisions to create larger units.
For instance, the Warsaw University Library integrated the New Books Division with the Subject Cataloguing Division to make a Cataloguing Division. Attention was also brought to changes within the internal structure of library divisions, for example in the Main Library of the Technical University of Łódź, in which the Reference Division was expanded by the task Group for Collection Digitalization.
Another example of organizational changes is the Main Library of the University of Rzeszów, restructured after the establishing of the university in that town in 2001. The three divisions for acqusition, cataloguing and subject description were merged into a single unit. The library is also working on establishing one common circulation division.
The academic library in Toruń set up two separate divisions: Circulation and Storage Division and Openaccess Collections and Reading Room Division. An additional position was set up for the care of electronic documents, and the library established a digitalization office.
Similar changes are planned by the Main Library of the University of Opole. The three separate divisions, the Circulation Division, the Reading Room, and the Collection Storage and Maintenance Division are to be integrated into a single Circulation and Storage Division.
These cases show that changes are going on and that organizational structures of academic libraries are being transformed.
The libraries participating in the survey confirm that the changes resulted from the efforts to enhance the quality of the library services, to better satisfy the needs their users, such as the access to electronic databases, and to protect the collections by digitizing them.
Two further questions dealt with the library computer systems and their impact on the changes in the organizational structures of those libraries. Recently, no substantial changes occurred in the libraries that resulted from the implementation of computer systems. Most libraries choose to initiate organizational changes before setting up integrated computer systems. Those issues have long been discussed by professionals; for example, by D. Konieczna at the 1995 conference in Toruń .
The next question, Did your library set up a specialized unit for purchasing and lending electronic books? yielded only one positive reply. One of the libraries established a separate position of a specialist for electronic resources in the Reference Centre, which is supervised by the Journals Division. The remaining 22 libraries did not undertake such changes. In most libraries the tasks of purchasing and lending electronic books are given to various existing organizational units.
This conclusion can be supported by what U.A. Wojtasik said at the Wrocław seminar on Building Collections The Art of Choice. It is interesting to note that in Polish libraries there is a variety of organizational units that deal with arranging access to ebooks. For example, the Safari database in the AGH University of Science and Technology of the Cracow is maintained by the Reference Division, while at the Main Library at the Wrocław University of Technology it is the Division for Acquisition of Printed Materials that carries out similar tasks. The Knovel server in the Main Library at the Cracow University of Technology is maintained by the Journals Division (Wojtasik, 2005).
The next question was about the function of the system librarian, a person responsible for managing the computer system at a library . Fifteen libraries confirmed there is a position like that in their structures; however, its precise location is fairly varied, from the position of a deputy director performing the duties of the system librarian to a separate position that is supervised either by the manager of the Collection Cataloguing Division or the manager of the Division for Cataloguing Books and Special Collections. In one of the libraries, the duties of the system librarian are performed by the manager of the Reference Division. Duties that system librarians are supposed to perform are comparable between various libraries. The focus is on ensuring that the integrated computer system functions properly, dealing adequately with the users comments and providing information on the changes being implemented. The duties of the system librarians also include training for other librarians and for the users of information and search modules.
The sixth question dealt with the structural changes designed to enhance the quality of the user service. Only two libraries did not introduce such changes recently, while the remaining ones did introduce a range of innovations. These included mainly setting up new units or positions, or transforming the existing ones. New units are for example: Division of Open Access Collections, Centre for European Documentation, User Service Centre, while a new position is the one for dealing with complaints and for monitoring loan patterns at the local circulation department. It was also indicated that although some of the organizational changes were not structural in nature, they did have a direct impact on the increase in the quality of services. These changes aimed at providing free access to most collections at a library, at increasing the number of computer sites for better access to databases, at providing access to electronic sources from sites outside the library, at free access to photocopying services, and at the extension of opening hours of both the reading room and the circulation department.