A Framework for Access Services Librarianship - American

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A Framework for Access Services Librarianship - American

Transcript Of A Framework for Access Services Librarianship - American

A Framework for Access Services Librarianship: An Initiative Sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Access Services Interest Group
Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors, April 2020
This framework is a culmination of a three-year effort by Access Services professionals1 across the United States to define and describe a framework for Access Services librarianship. The ACRL Access Services Interest Group, established in July 2016, produced this work through a multi-step process that began with discussing and drafting a charge (Appendix A). After group discussions at ALA Midwinter in 2018, the IG identified four primary sections for the framework2. Subsequently, the group established four focus groups with seven members each chaired by volunteers to address each section. Unedited drafts from each focus group were submitted for additional review and discussion at ALA Annual in 2018, and through the ACRL Access Services Interest Group listserv. This document represents the collective work of these thirty-one individuals along with the feedback, suggestions, and encouragement from Access Services professionals across the country over the past 18 months. This framework should be of interest to academic librarians both inside and outside of Access Services as it intends to help shape, define, and explain the scope of this branch of librarianship as it continues to provide essential services and oversight of core library functions in 21st century college or research libraries. While the concept of Access Services is not new, this framework stands on the works of several individuals, groups, and reports submitted over the last 25 years and is hoped to bring a concrete framework to bear that will continue to build upon, expand, and greater define this specialization for the foreseeable future. This report is faithfully submitted by:
Brad Warren, University of Cincinnati – co-chair of Framework initiative DaVonne Armstrong, Thomas Jefferson University – co-chair of Framework initiative Amy Boucher, Harvard University – past recorder of Access Services Interest Group James Harper, Wake Forest University, Chair of framework section one Cindy Pierard, University of New Mexico, Chair of framework section two Jean Thoulag, University of Hawaii Manoa, Chair of framework section three David Ketchum, University of Oregon, Chair of framework section four
1 For the purpose of this document, Access Services professionals refers to a broad range of roles including librarians, managers, para-professionals, and support staff. 2 Definition; Competencies; Marketing; Professional Engagement
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Section 1: Definition of Access Services
“Access services is essential, fundamental and pervasive” (Krasulski & Dawes, 2013).
James Harper (chair), Wake Forest University Stacey Kemi, Portland Community College Lara Nesselroad, University of Oregon Sarah Vaughn, University of Northern Colorado Kellie Barbato, Palm Beach Atlantic University Duane Wilson, Brigham Young University Olivia Hattan-Edwards, Jacksonville University
1.1 Introduction
The field of Access Services is difficult to define and has a scope that often comprises many areas, programs, and services located in a multiple broad areas of academic library services and programs. This section seeks to define Access Services both specifically and broadly. Specifically, to chart the traditional and the new areas of work that are often covered by the Access Services umbrella. Broadly, in an attempt to provide a succinct statement that can apply across institutions and over time. This section starts by exploring the brief history of Access Services and reviewing the literature. It ends with recommendations.
1.2 History
From the foreword to Twenty-First-Century Access Services: On the Front Line of Academic Librarianship (2013), James Neal writes about his experience as Assistant University Librarian at Pennsylvania State in the mid-1980s, and the creation of their Access Services department.
“I recognized the need to bring together the essential but disparate services that enabled our students and faculty to obtain collections, make use of technologies and spaces or take advantage of services provided by the libraries. This early deployment of an Access Services department, in a largely predigital period, addressed the persistent and pressing importance of core user support. The “usability’ of the academic library had entered the professional vocabulary, and a focus on “human” objectives like user success, happiness, productivity, and impact, had become more fundamental to library mission.”
Imagine this scenario playing out in libraries across the country, and you have the birth of Access Services.
Thomas Schneiter, in his article Does Access Services Have a Future (2002), echoes the thought that Access Services grew from a change in focus within academic libraries. Outside the library world, the importance of the service industry and the emphasis on good customer service was expanding.
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Expectations had changed so the library needed to change as well. The library as merely a collection of resources was no longer enough.
Hinting at the “need,” Neal mentions, Schneiter points to the gains offered by consolidating the management of several units (i.e., circulation, reserve, stacks) that did not neatly fit under reference. Reduced staff cost was one need met, replacing multiple unit heads with one department head. Another was a more cohesive team, charged with improving and supporting patron access (2002).
From this start, the work of Access Services expanded rapidly to include other existing services and new ones as well. In 1991, shortly after the time period Neal is writing about, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) did a survey of ARL libraries on the subject of Access Services, and 76 libraries responded. The majority reported that over the last five years the areas of responsibility that fell under Access Services had increased.
Several core services were identified: circulation, stacks maintenance, course reserves, billing, and library security. To this list was added current periodicals, interlibrary loan, photocopy services, microforms, campus delivery, and a general information desk (Steel, 1991). Repeated in 2005, the ARL study showed the addition of even more new services like technology lending, electronic reserves, service to distance learners, and remote shelving (Dawes, et al., 2005).
From the same studies, the evolution of the name “Access Services” is seen. In 1991 40% of the 76 libraries surveyed had a department that included the word “access” (Steel, 1991). In 2005, 81% of surveyed libraries used the term “access”. (Dawes, et al., 2005).
1.3 Literature Review
In 2002, the Journal of Access Services published a Q&A with five members of their editorial board. They were asked to define Access Services in 100 words or less. The most succinct definition took only eleven: “Every library activity related to giving users access to relevant information.” Another response pointed to the focus on ensuring and extending access to information. This includes providing a secure environment under the category “ensuring” (Hanson, et al.).
When asked what common concerns linked the variety of services of and units within Access Services, the focus on the customer or patron was primary. “Each activity within Access Services has responsibility for both direct customer contact and behind-the-scenes activities that support the services offered, and staff must be able to operate well in both environments” (Hanson, et al., 2002).
One concept that came up several times in the literature is the idea of Access Services as a bridge or intermediary between the patron and technical services (Hanson, et al., 2002), or the patron and the library as a whole. It is the public face of the library, the first line of contact (McCaslin, 2009).
Regarding specific tasks included under the umbrella of Access Services, it helps to go back to the 2005 ARL study. Of the 77 respondents, all of the following areas were mentioned as being a part of Access Services by at least some of the surveyed libraries:
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• Circulation • Stacks maintenance and shelving • Billing • Security • Entry/exit control • Reserves (print and electronic) • Interlibrary loan • Document delivery (on campus and to distance learners) • Circulating technology • Remote shelving ingest and retrieval • Disabilities services • Printing and photocopying • Facilities • Lockers and study rooms • Preservation • Information desk
1.4 Specific Recommendations
The following programmatic areas and services are common in modern Access Services departments. This section is not a detail of the skills and competencies necessary for performing or overseeing this work; there are, however, bracketed notations to the competencies in Section Two listed as appropriate.
1.4.1 Assessment and Quality Control
Assessment and quality control in an Access Services context involves collecting data about how library spaces and collections are used, then looking at the data to make informed decisions. This can be a collaborative endeavor that includes other departments within the library (like technical services and reference) and beyond (campus security, administration, etc.). Some examples of metrics frequently collected and analyzed include gate counts that inform decisions about hours of operation, circulation statistics that help answer questions about collection development and weeding projects, patron demographic information used to tailor services to a specific population (i.e. “Do we serve primarily staff or students with X service and how could we make it better for them?”), and library charges which can be broken down into subsets leading to a review of policies. [2.2.1]
1.4.2 Circulation
Circulation is a primary area of Access Services and involves a broad range of duties related to helping patrons access resources and understand related policies. Broadly, Access Services is responsible for checking out items to patrons and checking them back in when they are returned. Items are also reviewed for damage and completeness at the time of return. Staff work with patrons during these transactions to understand the policies related to checking out any particular item, such as the loan period, overdue fines, and responsible use of the item. Physical items such as books, media, and equipment (laptops, cameras, charging cords, etc.) are circulated as well as items related to spaces and
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access like lockers, computer logins, or study rooms. Any resource that is managed, tracked, and available for a specified period of time can fall under the purview of circulation. [2.2.5]
1.4.3 Course Reserves
The course reserves service involves managing and providing access to a collection of materials identified as important for students taking particular courses. Because the items are in high demand and a finite resource, course reserves usually have a short loan period compared to other collections (e.g. hours instead of days). These items can be physical items like textbooks, articles, DVDs, anatomical models, equipment, or slides, or they may be electronic documents, which adds a different set of tasks to providing this service. Items may already be owned by the library, purchased specifically for adoption as a course reserve, or loaned to the library by instructors or departments on a temporary basis. Staff track the life cycle of the items on reserve, physically process items in and out of the collection, and manage the associated bibliographic records for the items. They communicate with the instructors or departments during this process to make sure the right resources are available for students at the right time. For electronic reserves, there are the additional technical tasks of creating, storing, and delivering digital content to users. Copyright management is another component of this service, and staff must consider copyright laws and fair use policies when managing content on course reserve. [2.2.2, 2.2.5]
1.4.4 Document Delivery
Document delivery is a service that provides enhanced access to materials held in the library and usually involves the scanning of journal articles or book chapters for use by library patrons. A patron can request a specific selection, usually using an automated request system, and library personnel will create a usable file that is shared with the patron electronically. Document delivery services may be especially helpful for users of libraries with remote collections, distance education patrons, or multiple branches, where electronic delivery is faster and easier than physical retrieval and delivery. [2.2.2]
1.4.5 Facilities Management/Accessibility
Facilities management is an important focus of Access Services departments. Managing the day-to-day operations of the library includes maintaining physical collections, reserving discrete spaces to patrons, and being present to answer whatever questions may arise. Maintaining facilities includes reporting maintenance issues, receiving and following up with feedback on the facility, understanding how physical space is used and meeting needs as best as possible, and liaising with library and campus maintenance departments. [2.2.6]
1.4.6 General Public Service
Library patrons often ask their questions at the first desk they see, and usually that desk is an Access Services desk; further, many patrons understand that libraries are places that? hold information and so will ask general questions at library desks. Because of this, Access Services staff must have a sufficiently thorough understanding of services and resources available throughout not only the library, but also the institution and often the community, to effectively interpret questions and determine whether to answer or correctly refer the question, or both. Answers may require skills in empathy, instruction, technology troubleshooting, internet searching, and code-switching between formal? or colloquial languages. [2.2.5]
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1.4.7 Interlibrary Loan / Resource Sharing
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is the process by which libraries share materials with each other, based on specific patron needs, in order to supplement local library collections. Access Services personnel may be tasked with multiple steps in this process, including on the lending side: retrieving requests from an automated system such as OCLC Resource Sharing or Rapid ILL; determining availability and location information for each item; pulling items from the shelves; scanning appropriate selections; creating usable files and uploading them to the resource sharing system; and updating records in the automated ILL system. On the borrowing side, Access Services personnel may be tasked with multiple steps in the process including: reviewing patron requests; verifying citations if needed; determining possible lenders based on a variety of considerations; submitting the request in an automated ILL system; receiving the material; delivering the material or making it available for pickup by the patron. Knowledge of local policies and procedures, systems operations and customization, ILL guidelines and best practices, and copyright law as it applies to resource sharing, may all be required. [2.2.5]
1.4.8 Marketing / Outreach
Access services personnel should be aware of all services provided by the library in order to answer questions, promote services, and educate users. Questions may include where to find an item, where a specific space is located, or where to find a reference librarian. Personnel may also be charged with creating handouts, posters, or other marketing materials to enhance promotion on the front lines. As Access Services employees are often the first individuals users interact with, personnel have a great opportunity to educate users about all the library offers, from promoting interlibrary loan services to making suggestions for collection purchases to taking in feedback on what events or services in which users are interested. This area of work is fully explored in Sections Two and Three. [2.2.5]
1.4.9 Off-Site or Remote Shelving
To alleviate overcrowding of books and people, libraries move parts of their collections to a remote location. Often, Access Services is responsible for managing this space. They handle the initial ingest and shelving of items into the off-site facility. They also provide access to the materials by scanning needed articles or delivering needed books to the main campus. It is inconvenient for patrons to have library materials moved off-site. It is the job of Access Services to mitigate this inconvenience by providing prompt retrieval and delivery. [2.2.1]
1.4.10 Patron Accounts Management
Many of the functions performed by Access Services require an up-to-date database of library patrons. Each patron account in this database is used in numerous ways. For example, it governs what items a patron can check out and for how long, which patrons can access certain online reserves, and which patrons can use interlibrary loan. In some instances, the patron account determines what access the patron has to the library’s online resources such as journals and databases. Often, the Access Services department works with other campus entities such as the registrar to maintain the accuracy of this patron database. [2.2.2]
1.4.11 Security/Emergency Management
Because Access Services departments are likely to be open all or most of the hours the library itself is open, staff are likely to be points of contact for emergency or security incidents. While some libraries have dedicated security staff all of some of the time (in which case that staff takes on these duties),
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when there are not security staff, Access Services staff must respond to injuries, thefts, disputes, and a variety of other urgent situations by interfacing with police or other campus or security entities, managing patron concerns, and determining whether and when to close all or part of the library. Managing such incidents may require skills in conflict resolution, factual reporting of events, and first aid/CPR, as well as attention to detail and capacity to remain calm. [2.2.4]
1.4.12 Space Management
The Access Services department is often involved in coordinating the use of different spaces within the library building, such as conference rooms, classrooms, and study rooms. This involves developing policies related to proper use of the rooms and procedures for making reservations for the rooms. The access services department also facilitates access to the spaces when groups who have reserved them arrive in the building. Employees in access services are often involved in maintenance the amenities in each space, such as furniture and technology. [2.2.6]
1.4.13 Stacks Maintenance
Stacks maintenance is the process of keeping materials on the shelves in order and usable for patrons. This includes shelving materials in the correct place, monitoring growth patterns, maintaining adequate space to shelve new acquisitions, shifting materials as new growth patterns emerge, regularly reviewing the shelves for correct order, and making recommendations or determinations about areas which may soon outgrow space in order to embark on a weeding strategy. It may also include retrieving materials from the stacks for other processes, and considering areas or items for reassignment to a different shelving location. [2.2.1]
1.4.14 Student Management
While many departments in the library utilize student employees, the access services department is often the most dependent on student employees to keep their operation running, and often employs the largest number of student workers. Student employees in access services perform functions such as checking in and checking out library materials, shelving materials, facilitating access to materials and spaces throughout the library, answering the phone, and answering questions pertaining to library services and resources. Access services department employees coordinate the hiring and onboarding of new student employees, make schedules for circulation desk coverage, and track shifts worked by student employees for payroll purposes. [2.2.3]
1.4.15 System Management
Access services departments may work with systems departments to ensure efficient use and workflow of library technologies. Understanding the various technology interfaces needed for the day-to-day operations of the department (e.g., Integrated Library System (ILS), interlibrary loan management system, course reserves system, library website) benefits both the staff and users. [2.2.2, 2.2.5]
1.4.16 Wayfinding/Signage
An important aspect of facilitating access to library services, materials, and spaces is signage. Access services employees may help design, print, and post signage, sometimes with assistance from the campus marketing department, to assist patrons in locating services, materials, and spaces within the library building, as well as hours for both the building as a whole and for particular services. [2.2.6]
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1.5 The Broad View
Early on in this project, Section 1 task force members were asked for first thoughts concerning their charge to define Access Services. The following responses illustrate the challenge of defining and the need to define Access Services:
“I think one of the beauties and the challenges (and possibly the disasters) of the phrase “access services” is that we’ve chosen to call ourselves this incredibly broad name. Is there anything which users want of the library which is not a matter of access?” “Everything is a matter of access from the library user’s perspective - access to resources, services, spaces. They should not need an intimate knowledge of how the library works in order to get what they need. The task of access services is to fill that need. We are never the ones to say “I’m sorry, you’re in the wrong department.” So then, what is Access Services? It’s a moving target, not only over time, but from institution to institution. Yet there is commonality. Access Services grew from a desire by libraries to improve the patron experience. Whether it’s front-line circulation or behind the scenes stacks maintenance, Access Services is about making this patron experience the best in can be. Any definition should highlight this.
1.6 A Definition of Access Services
Access Services develops and provides services that connect library users to library resources. Access Services is the primary point of contact for library users. It strives to make the library user’s experience positive and rewarding.
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Section 2: Competencies for Access Services Librarians and Managers
Cindy Pierard (chair), University of New Mexico Jorge Brown, Worcester State University Laura Nederhoff, Harvard Business School Mary Glatthaar, Florida Gulf Coast University Jennifer DeVito, Stonybrook University – SUNY Tamela Smith, University of Central Arkansas Paul Moffett, IUPUI
2.1 Purpose
The purpose of this section is to articulate recommended skill sets, training, and best practices for effective management by Access Services librarians and managers. This articulation is of particular interest as librarians and managers in this area are often in a unique situation overseeing complex backend operations and time-sensitive public service desks with myriad staffing types and levels. In addition, Access Services librarians and managers are often managing front-line services in support of the use of non-traditional collections and services such as media equipment, maker spaces, and technology. Access Services librarians are also collecting data and providing feedback on collection metrics, facilities usage, and assessment initiatives.
2.2 Competencies
Just as the programmatic areas of Access Services are broad, diverse, and changing, so too are the skills needed for successful practice. In addition to core areas such as circulation and stacks maintenance, Access Services is increasingly involved with new services and spaces (see Section 1). All of these areas call upon different management and leadership skills and knowledge, as well as personal attributes and traits. This is not a comprehensive list of Access Services responsibilities and related competencies, nor is it exclusive. Each library is different, but the intention is to cover major commonalities.
2.2.1 Collections and Stacks Management
This area involves managing or working with other library groups to manage activities relating to the maintenance of the library’s physical collections, such as shelving and shelf-reading, inventory projects, or large-scale shifts. These activities are frequently a core responsibility of Access Services.
• Ongoing Collection Maintenance - Maintaining a library’s collections is often the responsibility of Access Services, and managers must have the ability to oversee or coordinate with other library staff to ensure the collection is properly maintained. This may involve shelf reading to confirm items are in their correct location, as well as scanning for and attending to damaged materials (e.g., mold,
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pestilence). Maintenance also entails attending to the condition of shelving for the purpose of supporting both access to and preservation of collections. • Shift Project Management - Collection relocation projects are a challenging yet common aspect of work at most academic libraries. Access Services managers must have the spatial abilities to determine current and future collection space needs (to include special formats such as microforms, maps, or special collections), the project management skills to estimate time and staffing needs, and the problem-solving skills to revisit and recalculate variables during projects, something of particular importance to what is frequently an imprecise process. Budgeting (for staff, for supplies, etc.) also comes into play for such projects. • Data Gathering - Given the importance of circulation and acquisition trends to space planning, Access Services managers must have the ability to generate or to work with others to pull reports from an ILS or other key enterprise systems as a means of supporting decision-making. • Long-Term Planning - In addition to routine collection shifts, Access Services managers must have the ability to anticipate and plan for complex projects, which may include offsite facilities, transitional or swing space, and considerations involving everything from preservation needs to access and retrieval strategies. Providing oversight for all aspects of these projects is unlikely to be the sole purview of Access Services, but understanding the issues and working with colleagues to successfully plan for such projects is key.
2.2.2 Leadership
This area involves providing for or influencing the direction of the department and bringing people together to work towards a common goal. This subsection is heavily influenced by the Library Leadership and Management Association’s 14 Foundational Competencies and its emphasis on knowledge, skills, and abilities that are applicable to different settings as well as different career stages. Access Services skills are emphasized where appropriate.
• Communication - Access Services interacts heavily with library users and other library staff. It is essential that Access Services managers demonstrate and model people skills and mental flexibility needed to handle complex human interactions and are able to remain calm under pressure. Access Services managers should be able to communicate effectively using multiple methods.
• Project management - Like many areas of librarianship, Access Services managers are frequently charged to lead projects that align with departmental or organizational goals. Managers should have the ability to initiate, plan and manage core aspects of projects, ensuring that tasks are completed in a timely fashion, within budget, and in accordance with task/project parameters.
• Budget - Access Services budget responsibility varies with institutional setting and may involve funds for collections, staffing, facilities, or projects. Overall, Access Services managers administer the departmental budget, using funds in a manner consistent with the department’s goals, following appropriate procedures, and monitoring expenditures. Skills involve the ability to communicate the mission and functions of the department and its budgetary needs, as well as to negotiate, defend, and stay within budget. Proficiency with spreadsheet and budgeting software or other tools is also key.
• Visionary, solution-focused, and creative thinking - Access Services managers maintain currency with new approaches to service delivery, emerging technologies, workflows, and developments within libraries and higher education. They strive to connect the “big picture” with everyday practice as well as strategic thinking and planning. They continually seek opportunities to improve practice and to address, solve, or mitigate problems. They recognize and respond to changes in the organization that impact the library.
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