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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > June 2011

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Vol. 31 No. 5 — June 2011
Assessing Innovation in Corporate and Government Libraries
by Deane Zeeman, Rebecca Jones, and Jane Dysart

This study identifies innovative service trends in library and information services in the government and corporate arenas.
e Context

This study reports on the results of interviews conducted in December 2009 and January 2010 to identify innovative service trends in library and information services in the government and corporate arenas. The study was undertaken as part of a Library and Archives Canada (LAC) research project to inform the Government of Canada Assistant Deputy Ministers Task Force (ADM Task Force) on the Future of Federal Library Service in gaining a better understanding of future-oriented service delivery models adopted by corporate and government libraries.

The Scope and Approach

The study began with a thorough review of relevant literature as well as conference presentations and proceedings, webinars, listservs, and blogs. This review yielded myriad service delivery models in place in private and public sectors—models that were then used to design the interview. Corporate and government libraries recognized by the library sector as “innovative” based on the libraries’ long-term success and demonstrated ability to successfully initiate progressive services were identified. Eighteen of these libraries, in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada; Singapore; Australia; and the U.S., were selected, and all agreed to be interviewed. Nine were categorized as “public sector” (i.e., organizations managing published information in government departments, government agencies, legislatures, or congresses or as national libraries), and the other nine were categorized as “corporate” (i.e., organizations managing published information in for-profit organizations from the professional services, pharmaceutical, legal, and financial sectors).

Recognizing Innovation
by Stephen Abram

How do we recognize innovation in libraries? Is it like great art or pornography? That is to say, “I’ll know it when I see it.” I think that there may be some truth to this clich`E9, but it’s also a function of keeping an open mind—ideally, all the time. Innovations and innovative ideas crop up all the time and in many places. You can learn the ability to “see” innovation earlier in the cycle rather than in retrospect with the rest of the crowd.

It is dependent on the skill of being a good “noticer.” Jane Dysart uses this skill all the time when she plans library technology conferences up to a year in advance. How do you plan a technology conference that will be current in the fast-changing field of technology, information, and libraries? How do you notice early that something is new or changing, becoming a real or emerging trend, or that the innovation is maturing into standard practice? This is a key aspect of innovation awareness: noticing when change is nascent and determining when it’s just a fun fad or a major trend, useful or not ready for prime time, or an incremental improvement or game changer. All innovations can be important, but there’s a big difference between those that merely improve a current process and those that are transformational.

I can’t list all the ways one can recognize innovation. The skill can be as much attitude and aptitude as good process. Personally, I think that there are basically two methods that complement each other: trusting your gut reaction and decent, regular, environmental scanning. Innovation is change. Lack of innovation is fossilization, and that’s easy to spot!

Here are 10 tips to help your library remain innovative:

  1. Does the thing/innovation/change you’re reviewing make you uncomfortable? If it does, it’s affecting you on some gut level. It’s rare to have a neutral feeling about change, so if you’re feeling something, it is likely that it is a real change. Trust your gut about discomfort. Do you care? Do your users or clients care?

  2. Do you feel like arguing about the innovation? That can often mean that you’ve already engaged with the idea or innovation. If it engages you, it is probably more significant than those features or ideas inspiring yawns.

  3. Is the thing, idea, product, service, or process that you’re looking at disruptive? If you say yes, then it’s likely that it is innovative. (Sadly, this isn’t enough to mean that it’s good.)

  4. Ask yourself what the change represents. Is it a significant, new functionality for a current product or service offering? Is it a new or novel form for delivering a well-known functionality? Is it a significant, new functionality in a completely new product or service? For example, you can add online holds to an OPAC, add mobile access on all devices, or add virtual references or social recommendations. All are innovative on some scale, but some are more innovative and transformational. How big is it? What does it span?

  5. Another way to be more open to noticing innovation is to look at where it comes from. Does it come from the fringes of your library or sector? Change and innovation often come from outside. Does it come from “new eyes”—new entrants to the profession, nonlibrarians, younger users, or professionals questioning the status quo? Innovation and ideation can often result when new eyes encounter an old problem. Be open to their ideas and playfulness.

  6. Does the innovation solve an old or annoying problem? Does it reduce friction or increase it? Innovators can often increase friction, but don’t confuse that personal behavior with the actual innovations that reduce friction.

  7. Does the innovation make a difference for you/me or does it transform entire markets, communities, or work teams? Libraries have been known to prioritize internal innovations versus market-driven needs. Adopting external innovations from other sectors is still innovation.

  8. Is this innovation a metaphor? Are you looking at Netflix and seeing a library idea? How about Amazon recommendations? Innovations can be identified and discovered in parallel sectors. Don’t have not-invented-here syndrome.

  9. Who do you listen to? Identifying innovators and early adopters in your network will increase your ability to see what they see. Listen to them and then keep their insights in perspective since they tend to be way ahead of the adoption curve of the majority of users.

  10. Lastly, innovation is not by definition about technology. Technology often enhances the ability to achieve change, but the innovation must usually be perceived by humans to be worthwhile in order to be adopted. When adoption lags, check the alignment with human behaviors rather the technology alone. Are you seeing a human story in the innovation or just a tech issue?

Openness is the key to identifying when innovation is more than just change for change’s sake. An open mind sees things that a closed mind can’t even imagine.

Stephen Abram ( is vice president of strategic partnerships and markets at Cengage Learning (Gale). Formerly vice president of innovation at SirsiDynix, he is a past president of SLA, Canadian Library Association, and Ontario Library Association.

Innovative Services in Libraries
by Jane Dysart and Rebecca Jones

We’ve had a number of conversations recently about innovation. Does innovation mean incrementally changing systems or services to be better than they were? Or does it mean really doing things differently, fundamentally changing our products or operations? Stephen Abram, an information industry watcher and thought leader, provides his perspective on how to recognize innovation. I think there is room for lots of discussion around this topic, and I hope that Computers in Libraries magazine will keep on carving out a little space for continuing conversations about innovation in our sector. We want to learn from each other and illustrate to our funders that we do have an impact on our communities.

Academic libraries are going to where the students are. They are creating mobile apps for smartphones—apps that map the campus, connect to the library catalog and digital resources, and link to librarians. They are building courses on Facebook and YouTube. They are also collaborating across faculties for media and digital creation and curation.

And speaking of going where our communities are, several libraries have recently opened branches in airports, including one in Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam in the Netherlands and another at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport, although it has no paper books.

A recent study funded by the Special Libraries Association and shared in the October/November 2010 issue of SLA’s Information Outlook pointed to information professionals, medical research bioinformaticists, and analysts working in teams with scientists so closely that their participation is written into grant proposals. These librarian team members understand the environment so well that they identify gaps and address these with solution-oriented services to support their community. The study found that all innovative libraries had supportive leaders, no fear of failure, and strong reference/interview skills.

Public libraries are very creative in engaging their communities; the following are some examples:

  • A community QR code scavenger hunt led by the public library in Topeka, Kan.

  • A partnership with local technology companies to provide adult computer education programs in the library

  • A kids reading program implemented around a professional football team such as the Tiger Cats in Hamilton, Ontario

  • A gaming program that draws in teens and creates a safe place for them

  • A community (or online) book club where everyone reads and discusses the same books together

The House of Commons Library in the U.K. wanted to increase its student education program from the 8,000 on-site visitors each year to 80,000 on-site visitors a year—that is, it wanted a tenfold annual increase in online visitors. To this end, the library created an education unit, hiring teachers to teach teachers in schools across the U.K.—teachers who, in turn, could reach thousands of students and educate them about the political system and engage them in the governance of their country.

To recognize innovation and spark insights for our own innovation, we need to see the world—in person if we can or via the videos and experiences of others. Curtis Rogers’ reaction after a European tour is priceless. “Norway has book boats! `85 Dogs are allowed in Public Libraries in Scandinavia. `85 Robotic book transfers have been being used for 20 years in Sweden. `85 Roving Reference [librarians are] the norm.” Rogers also saw innovation in other parts of the world. Regarding Santiago, Chile, he exclaimed, “They have [book] vending machines in the subway” (

Marshall Breeding, director for innovative technologies and research at Vanderbilt University (and columnist for Computers in Libraries magazine), recently reflected on libraries he has visited. The Yonsei Samsung Library of Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, had “eye ball popping technology combined with creative space; a web 2.0 building with busy/engaged clients” using interactive touchscreen maps and message boards on the wall as well as round glass-walled pods for interactive group study.

The Shanachies, Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap Van de Geer from DOK Library Concept Center, work in an innovative facility in the Netherlands with lots of glass and an interesting architecture where all ages are engaged—the romance book section is lit with red lighting; the kids room has no rules, only fun; and people are using self-checkout with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Erik and Jaap are sharing other innovative practices through the first global library internet show, This Week in Libraries ( If you can’t see the world in person, this is a great alternative.

There are countless innovative products and services in the information sector. Share them with us!

Structuring the Interviews With Building Blocks

The interview structure matched the “building blocks” for service models defined by the ADM Task Force—E-Library, E-Services, Digitization, Physical Space, Technology, and Procurement—and probed the specific services that the interviewees offer in each .” This structure was also used to frame the findings.

Building Block No. 1: E-Library: Access to information content, in any format. Interviews revealed that many libraries view their role as “stewards of content.” This impacts the way in which they are acquiring and managing content and their involvement in digitizing content. They are responsible for licensing and managing contracts for content, for developing and managing internally created digital content for access, and, in some cases, for preservation. They manage enterprisewide (in some cases, global) deployment of licensed digital content.

The libraries interviewed prefer to deliver all content digitally, scanning content that is not already digital to send to clients. Many have implemented federated search, with varying levels of success. Ebooks are becoming more acceptable as the devices improve.

They are creating specialized databases or e-resources for users. A small public sector library manages a specialized wiki populated by users for its unique subject areas. Another public sector library publishes customized facts for its users on the intranet. A large corporate library created and continues to build unique databases of experts, exhibits, images, and articles for its organization. The Law Library of Congress is part of the Global Legal Information Network, an international cooperative that is building a database of foreign law.

Libraries have significantly downsized physical collections, and many now buy print only when the content is not available electronically, when digital licensing fees are unaffordable, or when licensing terms and conditions are too complex. They are collaborating with content providers to deploy digital content widely for use anywhere by employees. Some corporate libraries are working with vendors for creative licensing options, allowing internal applications to access licensed content on their intranets, for example, or creating licensing that fits with the way the corporation works rather than the way the vendor wants to structure options.

Some are managing copyright for their organizations, as they see the licensing of content and copyright compliance as complementary. Many are delivering digital content to whatever devices employees are using, from desktops to mobile devices.

E-Library examples for public sector libraries include the following:

  • Delivering content and research via email and the intranet

  • Preserving and curating specialized paper publications for the organization

  • Creating customized e-monitors

  • Providing access to ebooks via the intranet

  • Digitizing special collections and rare books by topic, adding context to full text, and surfacing the collection for special occasions

  • Summarizing legal news from around the world as a real-time news service with RSS feed; as database searchable by country, topic, etc.; and as a dynamic service on a website’s front page

  • Creating and deploying a database of foreign law, produced by an international consortium into which participants upload their country’s laws using common standards and taxonomy

  • Embedding content into the workflow of users through portals

  • Managing a content management system for the country’s federal publications that handles version control, authenticates information via PKI (public key infrastructure) and chain of custody, and preserves (normalizes for preservation to migrate to new versions) and provides permanent public access

  • Building a comprehensive collection related to the country including negotiating licenses, providing a gateway proxy to allow access to content for those off-site, and also implementing federated search across library, museum, archival, and gallery content

E-Library examples for corporate libraries include the following:

  • Managing all internal electronic documents and business records, as well as copyright of internally produced content that is available for the public

  • Selecting, processing, cataloging, and indexing all print publications and archival materials, including rare books, and maintaining an e-index on the external web (maintaining a website of pointers to the web and other information sources)

  • Designing and managing specialty databases of unique content of interest to both the corporation and the public

  • Delivering econtent through a portal, the starting point for industry reports, client information, live RSS feeds from Factiva, etc.—The KM group in this organization is responsible for internal content provided to researchers via self-service tools.

  • Licensing as much research-appropriate econtent as is affordable and implementable

  • Collaborating with other departments for access and use of certain very high-cost content tools  

Building Block No. 2: E-Services: The value-added services layered on the content to increase its utility for clients. Interviewees confirmed that virtual services, ideally delivered via many channels (email, instant messaging, texting, VoIP, phone, Twitter, etc.) are preferred by all. If social networks are banned, some libraries are using similar tools behind their organization’s firewall to deliver services virtually. In a few cases, libraries are incorporating social network functions into their systems through customized programming (professional services firms) or through the add-ons provided by the commercial products with security enhancements.

Libraries are focusing on in-context research and analysis, preferably integrated into the clients’ workflows, by working closely with or directly aligning library staff members with project or functional teams. Former “reference services” (defined as quick look-ups) are now undertaken by clients with tools and content designed and deployed by the libraries; frequently, these services are delivered via their organization’s intranets. This shift to self-service has allowed libraries to emphasize training employees in the use of content tools, library services, and project-specific, high-end content applications. Training, again, is customized, from face-to-face (which may be conducted via the web or Skype) to group or, as needed, elearning applications, podcasts, etc.

Most libraries are designing services targeting the unique needs of their clients and thus are highly valued by their organization. This includes customized media monitoring, which is daily—in some cases, twice daily—or weekly. Two public sector libraries act as internal consultants within their organizations, designing tools and working with employees to exploit content management capabilities.

Almost all of those interviewed centralize the management and delivery of services.

E-Services examples for public sector libraries include the following:

  • Embedding or aligning librarians with client teams (clinical teams, project teams, etc.)

  • Bringing collaborative groups together to work on and find solutions for grants and contract funding proposals

  • Working collaboratively with informatics and bench scientists in using tools for data (instruction and consultation)

  • One-on-one consulting in patents, technology transfer, and imaging

  • Using theLaw Library of Congress, which offers an “Ask a Librarian” service and a digital, global reference as well as a research service providing answers on demand for specialists, political experts, and lawyers (Librarians offer face-to-face instruction for congressional staff and researchers [librarians, government agencies, courts, etc.]. Facebook and Twitter are used to keep government employees current on what is happening on the floors of the House and Senate.)

  • Online tools, learning aids, and classroom training; experiential training on information-seeking behavior and knowledge strategy; an enterprise wiki to deliver training through on-demand informal sharing sessions as well as more formal sessions

  • A help-desk ticketing system to manage services that are delivered through multiple channels (Services include an interactive, collaborative national web chat service with staff throughout the country that allows people to engage with a librarian online.)

  • Custom reports for researchers

  • Using social computing and semantic computing to connect like-minded people and specific services with knowledge services

  • Connecting people as well as providing mentoring and coaching

E-Services examples for corporate libraries include the following:

  • Media analysis for management

  • A self-service (low-touch, high-volume) expertise finder accessible through a portal via computer or smartphone and searched by person or topic; staff then provide high-touch/high-value services in finding people who aren’t included in the self-service system

  • Industry profiles for the business units of the firm

  • Staff embedded into units for knowledge and information management or for assigned specific industries to integrated services into client workflows via their department portal

  • 24/7 service

  • Embedding self-service tools in employees’ workflows

  • Members or leaders of cross-organizational teams to identify and assess trends, to look at future directions, or to create products coordinating postconference information sharing, bringing in Forrester and other firms that specialize in trend watching to present their findings

  • Online, webinar, and classroom training; developing and implementing modular online training programs for unique econtent collections that train several thousand employees across the company in the same amount of time previously used to train a few hundred

  • Compiling and analyzing information and collaborating with knowledge advisors

  • Using commercial reference tracking tools to pool service requests and distribute them among staff based on question complexity, expertise required, and staff availability

  • Using advanced text analytics such as Linguamatics I2E as well as other tools for analysis

  • Creating information maps and using data visualization tools to convey data 

Building Block No. 3: Digitization. Digitization includes both “just-in-case” and “just-in-time” conversion of print to electronic formats for preservation and/or enhanced service delivery.

Interviews reveal that public sector libraries are doing more digitization than their corporate counterparts, because they have unique materials not available elsewhere. Their strategy is to digitize content to provide access to it and to preserve it electronically.

Corporate libraries, on the other hand, digitize on an as-needed basis to fill research requests. Only those corporate libraries with specialized and unique physical collections that the organization wants or needs to preserve, such as laboratory notebooks and other intellectual property, are conducting digitization projects.

Building Block No. 4: Physical space management. This is the physical footprint supporting collection management and client service.Interviews confirmed thatspaces are being downsized and reconfigured as physical collections are no longer required; spaces are now used for clients to do individual and collaborative work or as training facilities.

Reconfiguring involves weeding, digitizing, and sending physical resources off-site; in some cases, libraries have reduced their footprint by 50%. In other cases, they’ve retained the space for library staff, “hoteling” the organization’s staff members who no longer have formal offices, and for the spaces referred to earlier.

Building Block No. 5: Technology: Tools enabling service delivery. Given the importance of virtual service delivery, a range of technologies is being used for this purpose. Most see technology as an enabler, with Wi-Fi as critical for service delivery. Although a few of the public sector libraries recognize that technology is an enabler, they are faced by insurmountable walls of approvals for any technology enhancements. Yet another public sector library includes an information architecture branch in which most staff members have master’s degrees in computers and library science.

A focus for most libraries is on exploiting technologies to enable employees to access content and e-services with one sign-on. Most view their strong symbiotic working relationship with information technology (IT) department members as essential to move their technology strategies forward.

Some organizations allow social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but because of policy restrictions, many organizations do not. A few are incorporating the functionalities of these tools behind their firewalls. Many are testing ebooks and, although the adoption has been slower than expected, it is increasing as devices improve.

Technology examples for public and corporate sector libraries include the following:

  • Replacing legacy platforms such as the library management systems (One library is migrating to a market data world management system to manage vendors and contracts.)

  • Managing service requests in a workflow management system that routes requests to a central inbox and then apportions to staff based on request complexity, topic, and availability

  • Working with vendors to deliver content to BlackBerries and other mobile devices

  • Testing ebooks

  • Using robust videoconference platforms for webinars and communicating with employees globally

  • Some systems being used: QUOSA for managing scientific literature; Drupal for web interface and content management; MediaWiki for semantic web technology to capture and deliver information; Confluence for wiki; and Inmagic for records management

  • Using technology to manage and direct service requests to specialists with the required expertise and availability, as mentioned in E-Services

Building Block No. 6: Procurement: Acquisition of electronic information content, normally by licensing. Interviews confirmed that almost all of the libraries are responsible for their own purchasing, and that most either manage or are regarded as key advisors for the licensing and deployment of digital content for the organization or for its departments. In fact, a number of corporate libraries collaborate with other departments to purchase and use high-cost databases.

There’s recognition that negotiation and licensing skills are critical and that the biggest issues in this area are vendors’ terms and conditions and pricing models. Many are, or have already, worked hard to establish contracts, desktop capabilities, and policies/procedures enabling employees to do their own individual book or content purchasing. In the corporate sector, some work with vendors to integrate widgets, making it easier to access information on intranets.

Policy Framework: Principles for Organizational Decision Making

The librarians that were interviewed indicated that there is a spectrum of acceptance when it comes to policies. Some organizations have minimal—if any—policies, while others have policies governing the following:

  • Social networking tools (Many prohibit the use of these tools for technical and security reasons; in some cases, they have policies regarding employee usage in their personal lives if that usage could reflect on the organizations.)

  • Information technology

  • Information, knowledge and records management, and compliance

  • Privacy and confidentiality

  • Partnership or contractor usage of information services or content

  • Working virtually or telecommuting

Other Common Elements

Although the interviews and literature search primarily focused on the building blocks, we wanted to position those blocks within the broader context of the libraries’ reporting relationships, if or with whom they partner, how they are positioned within their parent organization, and whom they target as key clients or audiences.

Reporting relationships and positioning. There was absolutely no common finding regarding reporting relationships or positioning for those interviewed; libraries and information service functions report to myriad levels in myriad departments. The key finding here is that wherever and to whomever they are reporting, those libraries progressing with innovative services have supportive reporting relationships and positioning with stakeholders who value their services and understand the size of their purchasing budgets and complexity of their roles.

Partnerships. Partnerships with IT, legal, and purchasing are prevalent for those libraries licensing and deploying digital content. Libraries in the professional services firms are aligned with or integrated into knowledge management (KM) functions. Other libraries are partnering with the KM/information management (IM) or records functions, but in a few of these organizations, there is some friction between the libraries and other IM functional specialists. Most libraries partner with the IT department, as both functions recognize they need each other to deliver content and services. In a few organizations, the libraries partner to provide other services; one corporate library partners with training to provide e-training on library-acquired resources, and the Law Library of Congress is part of an international cooperative providing a database of foreign law.

Centralized vs. decentralized. Almost all of the libraries interviewed centralize their management of content and services. Those with staff members embedded in project or functional work teams or working in various regions have decentralized their service delivery.

Markets. Not surprisingly, all corporate libraries target markets that are internal to their parent organizations, while most public sector libraries both serve internal clientele and provide services or content access to the public. In the corporate sphere, those in biotech/pharmaceuticals, for example, target researchers and concentrate on revenue-generating or mission-critical functions.

Summary of the Findings

Overall, the interviews identified the following trends:

  • Virtual delivery of services and content (reference services and staff interaction with clients delivered through email, instant messaging, texting, etc.)

  • Less emphasis on transactional library services and more emphasis on people-intensive services, such as delivering “research” as opposed to reference services (reference is defined as providing “quick” answers or facts); providing tools and content for employees to do their own “reference” work; and staff working closely with or aligned as part of the project or functional teams to provide in-context research and analysis

  • Delivering digital content for employees to use on portals, desktops, mobile devices, etc. (This has been part of a strategic shift from “doing” everything for employees to enabling them to use content and resources themselves where it is expedient to do so and thereby enabling library staff to invest their time in working with employees on more complex research and analysis.)

  • Creating unique services highly valued by their organization

  • Using tools similar to social networks behind their organization’s firewall, if social networks are banned (In a few cases, libraries are incorporating social network functions into their systems through customized programming [professional services firms] or through the add-ons provided by the commercial products with security enhancements.)

  • Centralized management and capabilities of elibrary and e-services

  • Responsibility for licensing and managing contracts for access to content

  • Managing enterprisewide deployment of licensed digital content

  • Developing and managing internally created digital content into digital collections

  • Delivering as much content digitally as possible; scanning content not already digital for delivery purposes or integration into research and analysis results

Conclusions and Future Plans

Libraries in both the public and corporate sectors have been strategically shifting away from “doing for” employees to “enabling” employees to use the available content and resources to do what they can—and what they want to do—by themselves while still working with library staff when more complex research is required.

During the past 3 years, many of these organizations have made the following changes:

  • Enhancing e-monitors and newsfeeds long offered by libraries with application portlets and widgets for employees to customize or to be delivered to mobile devices

  • Reconfiguring physical spaces by reducing physical collections and, instead, using space for collaborative and individual work areas

  • Training clients in the use of content tools, library services, and project-specific, high-end content applications in person and through elearning, including podcasts, etc.

  • Increasingly aligning librarians with project or functional teams to embed research and content directly into the workflow

  • Optimizing technology wherever and whenever possible (Where social networks are banned, libraries are customizing this capability into intranets or internal content management systems. Also, content is delivered digitally even if it isn’t born digitally. Employees use this digital content on portals, desktops, and mobile devices, or the content is integrated into a customized answer provided by the library. In addition, libraries are developing and/or managing internally created digital content.)

  • Expanding their roles as content experts to include responsibility for licensing and managing contracts for content, as well as managing enterprisewide deployment of licensed digital content

Interviewees also indicated plans to pursue the following strategic steps:

  • Content access and integration directly into applications used by employees

  • Possible governmentwide contracts with content providers including access to full-text documents

  • Leveraging new technologies and tools (There is a desire to build functionality into portals, transforming them from a passive destination to a place in which people interact with each other and use RSS feeds for more “active delivery” of current content. In the biotech/pharmaceutical arena, some libraries are investigating migrating the library portal site into the company’s Microsoft SharePoint environment and using data mining and high-end thesaurus and ontology tools, including open source software such as Prot`E9g`E9 and sophisticated proprietary semantic search tools. They want to implement semantic search tools to work with structured and unstructured data for decision-making research with biotech/pharmaceutical research teams.)

  • Implementing a new discovery service (The National Library of Australia is implementing Trove [], a major new discovery service that has migrated several separate systems to a single platform for better access and interaction of services. One corporate library is exploring the use of QuestionPoint and client relationship management tools to leverage tracking information about what people want and might need. Many want to use social networking tools to expand these capabilities.)

  • Adopting strategies and systems to automatically acquire digital content

  • E-training from podcasts for using iTunes U productions to enhance audio and video access

  • Embedding and aligning staff members more with functional work teams

  • Providing virtual access to the team (A corporate library is pursuing a web-based space in which project and library team members “live” throughout a project with transparent access to all relevant materials and to each other. Generally, interviewees plan that librarians will provide more analysis and visualization services.)

  • Reconfiguring physical spaces

Use of Research Results

The goal of the ADM Task Force is to redefine a federal libraries service model. The research demonstrates that there are basically four dimensions to consider when aiming for that goal:

1. Enhancing the services for which libraries have long been famous and valued, such as quality-controlled answers, provision of authoritative information, due diligence, and keeping clients current for the digital era (Innovations range from interacting with clients and delivering content and services to mobile devices to customizing alerts into on-point synthesized briefings.)

2. Reconfiguring physical spaces previously used for collections into collaborative workspaces

3. Leveraging professional expertise to promote client self-service through elearning platforms or in-person training in the effective use of content tools, library services, or project-specific, high-end content applications

4. Aligning information services with, and embedding content directly into, client workflows

The findings of this research study were used by ADMs to target the key areas they believe will propel federal library service toward a new, streamlined, and comprehensive service delivery model. At present (spring 2011) plans are being developed to test the delivery of clustered (based on groups of libraries with overlapping subject interests) and centralized (generic back-end services available to all) services as options that will leverage library professional expertise to benefit the Canadian public service.

Deane Zeeman ( is manager of the Federal Libraries Coordination Secretariat at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), responsible for providing strategic guidance to enable LAC to “coordinate federal library service” and “provide leadership and direction for library services of government institutions” as mandated by the LAC Act. She focuses on leveraging her knowledge and experience to bridge the gaps between the information disciplines (library and information science, archival science, and recordkeeping) and to capitalize on the resulting synergies.

Rebecca Jones ( is a partner with Jane Dysart in Dysart & Jones Associates and former director of professional learning at the University of Toronto’s iSchool. She’s very fortunate to work with a range of organizations in academic, public, and corporate sectors, including libraries, on-service design, demand management, organizational design, roles, and responsibilities.

Jane Dysart ( is a partner with Rebecca Jones in Dysart & Jones Associates, a consulting company focusing on strategic planning, conference development, facilitation, and coaching. For more than 15 years Dysart & Jones has worked with clients in the private and public sectors of the information industry to solve problems, manage change, and create positive visions of the future and actions plans to achieve those visions. Jane is a past president of the Special Libraries Association and an information officer for the knowledge management section of IFLA.
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