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Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
aspects of the development. This increased our capacity and
confidence; we later led projects that previously could have only
been done by other people on the team.14 Now there are more staff
members at the organization that can perform certain tasks, all
without requiring a formal professional development program.
We learned to speak each others’ language. Information technology
is technical by nature, so it could sometimes be difficult for public
services staff members to know how to bring up issues with ITS
staff in the most effective ways. Likewise, ITS staff members did
not always understand the impact of the issues public services staff
were reporting, making communication more difficult. Judith’s
role on the web team allowed her to translate for both groups.
Our units became closer. Librarians in Judith’s home department
are highly skilled in research assistance and public service. This
placement gave the department a way to share their collective
insights into user searching and web browsing behavior and
influence the website’s design to benefit users. ITS staff now
had a colleague with public-service expertise embedded in the
department to whom they could turn when they needed a quick,
informal opinion on design or functionality development.
Other UTL public services librarians now had an insider on
the web team. We did not anticipate that having a public services
librarian on the web team would embolden other librarians to get more
involved with the redesign process. Judith frequently fielded calls from
colleagues curious about what was happening and looking for ways to
share their insights. She helped encourage and direct their feedback.
Longer-Term Outcomes
We made this interdepartmental placement indefinite.
Encouraged by the new website’s success and Library Administration’s
support of our project, we proposed an ongoing collaboration.
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