RLI 283 The Confluence of Collections at Johns Hopkins’s Sheridan Libraries 29 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 Collaborative Leadership Rather than splitting salaries, benefits, and other expenses such as travel across two budgets, the libraries determined which department would be the primary for that blended position and all expenses for the position would then come out of that budget. This allows the libraries to avoid a lot of unnecessary cost transfers within the organization. As far as reporting goes, rather than have the blended position meet separately with each manager, all three people meet together. In addition the libraries developed quarterly “touch base” meetings with all the blended librarians and their managers. The meetings help the staff involved understand overall workloads, any scheduling issues, and ensure continued improvement of the model. Also, these regular meetings ensure that priorities can be reevaluated and issues can be resolved quickly. The libraries learned rather quickly that having a set percentage of a staff member’s time devoted to one department or the other does not work. These positions must be highly flexible and scheduling should be based on the departmental needs, the liaison’s department activity level, the skill set of the librarian, and the developmental interests of the librarian. Any workload and prioritization conflicts must be resolved without putting the blended librarian in the middle. One question that remains is what might happen if someone in a blended position were to leave. While this has not happened, the libraries would likely do the same thing they do when anyone leaves— reevaluate the position in light of the skills needed and the skill set of the remaining staff, determine any shifts that may need to happen, and then hire for the best role to support the libraries’ constituents, even if that means reworking job descriptions. Having a blended position also means that the department heads need to address overall workloads across the two departments. One thing the libraries have learned as this model has grown is the importance of flexibility, not just for the blended positions, but also for all the staff in the departments. There needs to be a strong understanding that not everyone’s job should or will be structured the same way, not everyone will do the same work or have the same number of desk hours, and, if one position’s collection is spread over three locations, that person will likely not be in their office the same amount of time as someone else and that has to be acceptable. Surprisingly, the concept of varying workloads and perception of what is “fair” was one of the more challenging and unexpected issues for the libraries to resolve. In the end, it takes time and a lot of communication across the departments to find the right blend and balance. Much of the libraries’ success can be attributed to hiring the right people to fill these pivotal experimental roles. Transformative Change So what does all this mean in terms of broader organizational transformation? Libraries know that the roles of librarians have to change. Libraries know patrons are not interested in understanding the arcane internal structure of the library in order to do their research. Finding ways to blur or eliminate the boundaries between two departments that are providing similar service is a great way to move away from a siloed environment to a more holistic user-centered environment. Libraries need human-resources
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