Indianpolis/Marion Co. PL & Dr. Callison’s Thoughts

Intriguing article in the Indy Star:

The IMCCPL is changing as the new Main Library is renovated. Changes include more best sellers, more libraries open on Sundays (and the elimination of overtime pay for Sundays) and changes to the way the librarians do their jobs:

Librarians themselves will morph:

? A clerical worker with a college degree will answer reference questions — basically taking over the role for which a librarian went to college to get a master’s degree.

? Librarians with expertise in a particular field no longer will order books for their area.

? Users will do more self-service.

Wow. This intrigues me. It spotlights what is happening in many libraries across the country: budget constraints, services changing, and “transitions.”But what intrigues me more is Dr. Danny Callison’s open letter to the author that has been posted on many of the Indiana Librarian’s lists. I e-mailed him and he said I could quote him here:

Although IMCPL faces what we understand to be very difficult financial decisions, a dramatic shift away from professionals in key management, subject expertise and service positions can result in deterioration of public services regardless of how efficient support staff may be. The expectations for professional librarians today have increased in these areas:

Evaluation of services so that needs of specific groups in the community can be identified and addressed.

Development and coordination of outreach services so that the most effective means can be used to get resources to special groups such as the elderly, the disabled, and others who may be underserved for meeting their information needs.

Advancing full civic engagement so that the public library, including its departments and branches, becomes more collaborative with other community organizations to address the information needs for all local citizens and organizations ? whether nonprofit or for profit.

Taking steps that encourage philanthropic efforts for fund-raising and grant-writing that help to improve services and reduce the tax burden.

Creation of special programs in cooperation with the public schools, community organizations for adults and other agencies so that information can be presented by experts at community library locations around the county.

Instructional sessions, conducted by knowledgeable library professionals, in the methods to search new electronic information databases and how to make wise information selection and use decisions. The Information Age demands that all citizens, young to elderly, become wise information consumers and professional librarians, as teachers of information literacy, can help achieve this goal.

The IMCPL director and her excellent staff face some very difficult decisions. Perhaps choices have been made and there is no turning back. Perhaps the quality of public services will be monitored so that meaningful information education and delivery will not be lost in this new community structure we all look forward to using. It is our hope that a high quality staff of professionals will be part of the future showcase as well as the structure itself.

Daniel Callison, Professor
Executive Associate Dean
Jean Preer, Associate Professor
Marilyn Irwin, Associate Professor
Indiana University
School of Library and Information Science ? Indianapolis

Well put! User-centered…that local flavor…and info literacy for all. There’s a lot to be considered with the article and Dr. Callison’s reply. This is a good dialogue to entertain: where is your library at on the continuum of change? Have you transitioned? Are you transparent? Are you User-centered?