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SPECIFIC STRATEGIES FOR LIBRARIES

Specific strategies are those adopted in response to library types and the administrative environment of individual libraries (see Table 5.2). Pursuant to adopting general strategies, individual libraries considered which specific management strategies take precedence as they formed their plans. The question of which specific management strategies these libraries would adopt depended on the scale of the organisation, the budget, and environmental factors. Accordingly, specific strategies adopted by the libraries were not necessarily limited to a single strategy, as libraries needed to adapt to their current needs.

Subject Specialisation

Subject specialisation provides reference services, public services, and technical services based on highly divided subject-based organisation. It is unrealistic to expect one librarian to become an expert on multiple subjects. Instead, by creating separate divisions for each subject or for a range of related subjects, librarians can focus on developing a deep understanding of just one or a few specialisations.

Because each division requires several librarians, an abundant workforce and budget are needed to implement this strategy. Subject specialisation was characteristic of large public libraries and academic libraries in times of prosperity, when they were blessed with ample budgets. Furthermore, in response to budgetary conditions, libraries should consider fragmenting only

Specific strategies

Summary

External and internal environment impacts on strategies

User-based

strategies

Subject

specialisation

Emphasising organisational division to provide specialty knowledge and information services for subjects

Prosperous and abundant finances

Equalising

social

opportunities

Providing literacy,

language, job-hunting, and other services to assist underprivileged populations

Recession; increase in underprivileged populations

Librarian-

based

strategies

Consultation

services

Integrating a wide range of library services and resources to provide all manner of customised support to meet user demands

Advances in information technology; changes in user information behaviour

Sophisticated

service

strategies

Expanding editing and publishing functions

Supporting specialised projects by offering a high level of research and analytical services (e.g., via PhD- holding librarian specialists) Proactively gathering and editing information for print and digital publications (i.e., electronic journals)

Advances in information technology; changes in user information behaviour

Market changes; changes in user information behaviour

Facility-

based

strategies

Enhancing

visitor

facilities

Emphasising improvement of library facilities to allow users to more efficiently conduct study and research activities

Changes in user

information behaviour through development of IT; small/out-dated facilities needing renovation

Operation-

based

strategies

Service and operational improvement

Improving services and efficiency while decreasing costs through rationalisation

Austere financial

environment; complex organisational structure needing simplification

Core knowledge and skills Typical examples

Main

organisational

structure

Subject-based

organisation

Knowledge of subjects; education skills; research support for university students and researchers

Harvard Library, Columbia

University Libraries, Princeton University Library,Yale University Library, University ofTokyo Library (typical of academic libraries)

Subject-based,

Region-

based

organisation

Knowledge of subjects; library service skills for children, teens, adults, and the physically challenged Knowledge of subjects; communication skills with citizens; new service development skills

Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, Tokyo Metropolitan Library (until the 1990s) (typical ofpublic libraries) New York Public Library, Tokyo Metropolitan Library (mainly in the 2010s)

Subject-based

organisation

Specialty knowledge

related to subjects, media, and analytical methods; research support skills for library patrons

Harvard Library, Columbia

University Libraries, Princeton University Library, New York University Libraries, Columbia University Libraries, University of Arizona Libraries (since the 1990s; e.g., liaisons, embedded librarians, etc.)

Subject-based

organisation

Specialty knowledge

related to subjects, media, and analytical methods; advanced research support skills

Harvard Library, Columbia

University Libraries, Princeton University Library, New York University Libraries (since the 2000s)

Function-based

organisation

Knowledge of subjects and information systems; editing and publishing skills

New York University Libraries, Harvard Library

Function-based

organisation

Knowledge of marketing, public service, and information technology; facility management skills (space planning)

New York University Libraries, University of Arizona Libraries, UMass Amherst Library (fiom the 1990s to the 2000s), University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, Princeton University Library (since the 2000s)

Function-based

organisation

Knowledge of

management, public services, and technical services; library operation and cost reduction skills

University of Arizona Libraries (from the 1990s to the 2000s), National Diet Library, Tokyo Metropolitan Library (since the 2000s), University of Tokyo Library

those specialty subjects in high demand by users. For example, upon entering the 21st century, both the Harvard University Library and Boston Public Library have decreased their numbers of subdivided subjects. This was one way of countering a difficult budgetary situation.

One instance of public libraries undergoing diverse subject specialisation is the Boston Public Library in the 1960s, which created numerous sections to provide users with subject-specific services. There were specialised sections for as many as 15 subjects, each of which were amply staffed.

In addition, the library administrator should simultaneously consider structural subdivision as well as arrangements for lateral coordination of the organisation. For example, in the 2000s, the Columbia University Libraries utilised information technology in the form of chat reference software to allow subject librarians to communicate with each other. They utilised this software to redirect subject-specific questions from users to the appropriate subject librarian.

 
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