Case Study: You Can’t Please Everyone All The Time
Mending Relationships Between Librarians and Library Technicians
Organizational Context
The Beginning
The Solution
The Dilemma
Questions For Discussion
Key Learning Points

The Solution - Evidence Based Practice

Concerned not only for my staffs’ morale, but my own sanity as well, I delved into the research, reading all I could about library staff relationships. I recognized I could not change attitudes and behaviours overnight, and instead was searching for a practical way to make a small difference, hoping that whittling away at the issue over time would result in gradual change. It became apparent that one of the key complaints was that the library technicians were not valued for their skills, nor did they feel supported in their career decisions. The literature notes the need for on going education, professional development and training for paraprofessional staff, as well as the opportunity to join committees and associations in order to voice their concerns. I felt that providing professional development opportunities would be a practical step towards showing the library technicians that their skills were valued, as well as that management supported them in their quest for professional advancement.

To provide these new opportunities, however, I needed money. I went through budgets for the past five years, and discovered that the librarians were allotted a substantial amount of money each per year for professional development and association involvement. As the director, I was also allotted a certain amount per year, yet the library technicians historically had not been offered any funds. Further investigation revealed that this pot of money was never completely spent during the course of the past five years. It appeared that while the librarians were members of various associations and did on occasion attend workshops, they rarely used this budgeted money to take extra courses or attend conferences that were expensive or out of province.

I surmised that I could open up this fund to the other staff members. By analyzing the amount spent by the librarians in the past, plus deciding on how much I needed to spend myself, I decided that I would be able to offer the library technicians some money each to use at their discretion for the purposes of education, professional development or association involvement. I hoped that by encouraging this, the library technicians would feel supported and valued, and that since the librarians never spent this fund in its entirety anyways, there would be enough money to go around. I put together a proposal to share at the upcoming staff meeting - a proposal that I felt would please the library technicians, without upsetting the librarians.

Case study written by Lisa Shamchuk for LIS 504 (Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services). Wordle created and website coded for LIS 600 (Capping Exercise), as part of the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta. Modified February 27, 2010.