Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Building on the Library/IT Relationship

The latest "Dear Ulla" column from the SLA Leadership and Management Division focuses on fostering a successful relationship between the IT department and the library. While this is special library focused, Ulla's suggestions could easily be applied to any library type. What particularly caught my attention was her third suggestion, which is basically to frame all requests as patron/customer requests which meet a specific goal, not simply as something that is wanted by the library:
Job 3 is to cast any request for support into an enterprise business case: The knowledge workers are asking for X and we have done Y but now need the support of IT to accomplish Z. Under no circumstances should a request for support be interpretable as a "request from the library". Under all circumstances should such a request be presented (for example) as "employees are in need of ... so they can perform their jobs to meet [organizational goals]; while the required content is indeed available, IT support is required to now present it to the desktop".
This is an excellent way to help us get away from the us vs. them mentality ("oh, what does the library want now?" or "gosh, why do they never do what we need them to do?"). This kind of thinking encourages us to work together to meet a common goal which is becoming even more important as budgets shrink and staff positions are cut. As she concludes:
The bottom line is ... make the case with a view to organizational gain. It's not about what the library wants (do discard any library lingo). It's about what the organization needs in order to succeed.
I encourage you to read the entire post.

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