Of 2.0 and staff workloads

When I was on the University of Nebraska, Lincoln east campus last week there was one thing I heard that I’d not mentioned in my previous blog post about the day; "re-staffing". Please allow me explain.

Often, especially during my Library 2.0 or Social Web presentations (both of which I was giving that day) I inevitably get the question "but how can I do my job and do all this new stuff too?" It’s a legitimate question yet I dread it all the same. You see, it’s my job to do all this new stuff. I don’t have to pull a reference desk shift or meet with students. I do have to travel, teach, and present, but all the "new fun 2.0 stuff" I do is in complete support of said travel, teaching, and presenting. So, how have I answered the question?

In the past, and on that day, I mumbled my excuse about how my time is spent and then proceeded to mumble a bit more about "working it into your existing workflow" and "letting the decision of which 2.0 things to use/do be an ‘organic’ process". Both are legitimate answers but aren’t very satisfying ones to either me or the audience.

But over lunch, after my social web presentation, one of the campus librarians said to another, "maybe we need to consider some re-staffing" in order to be able to do some of this stuff." At the time I don’t recall reacting to the comment that much but it stuck with me enough to blog about it a week later.

Maybe at an institutional level adding the new social tools onto an already overloaded workflow isn’t the answer. Granted, I firmly believe that some of the new tools can be integrated successfully and streamline the existing workflow, but what about larger tools like blogging. Instead of expecting staff to blog for the library in addition to their existing workload, how about redistributing the workload so the staff that will be blogging on behalf of the library have a little less of what they did before and now have the time to blog?

I’m not saying this would be easy, nor could I possibly claim to have a "plan" for something like that that you could implement in your library. (How could I, each library’s solution would be completely different from every other.) However, maybe we should not look at this as an addition problem, but more of a rearrangement problem.

Your thoughts?

2 Replies to “Of 2.0 and staff workloads”

  1. As one of those librarians who manage subjects, ref desk, outreach, instruction, appointments, a building, staff, AND 2.0 stuff, I agree it is a challenge. For me, it comes down to 2 things – prioritization and well, prioritization.

    First, I prioritize which things I actively experiment and maintain in an ongoing fashion. That doesnt mean I try a lot of new things, I do, but I choose carefully which ones fit into my objectives as a librarian and my place in my profession and academic community.

    Secondly, I cast a critical eye on everything I do. We’ve all heard this before, “Choose what you do, and let go of things that matter less than others.” That’s hard, but I can tell you it’s a load of my work plate when I can finally say, “I no longer can keep up with ordering individual books, so here’s my budget and selected call number ranges defined by faculty and myself, Mr. Automatic Approval Plan,” for example. The time saved allows me to explore things in the 2.0 world, some of which is now a huge success regarding networking with my own user community and professional goals. And to me, that was worth the sacrifice.

    Jezmynne Westcott

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