Law Libraries-Staffing Strategies
libraries continue to face the constraints of stretching tight budgets
to meet increased service demands. Justifying the need for specially
trained library staff is difficult in the face of downsizing and the
misconception that the Internet can do it all at little or no cost.
Some library managers have succeeded, however, in spite of this
environment. What are some of their secrets?
it is a common practice throughout the organization to use temporary
personnel, this precedent can help justify it in your department. Lauri
Flynn, Director of Information Resources for the Bank of America's
Legal Department in San Francisco, covered absences and projects with
existing staff until she noticed that other departments whould bring in
extra help. Discovering that the Legal Department considered temporary
help to be a viable option in maintaining operations on an 'as needed'
basis, she began to request temporary help when it was warranted.
you options in accomplishing your work load. There may be other
approaches besides hiring a full-time permanent person immediately.
Lauri Flynn needed to fill a permanent opening and felt it would be
helpful to bring in a experienced temporary person who could help
further evaluate the long term demands of the position. She contacted
Maggie O'Brien at AIM's Mountain View office. After a search of AIM's
staffing database, Maggie suggested Ethel Innes. Ethel had retired
after working at the UC Regents General Counsel Office as their Law
Librarian for many years. She had top-notch skills and experience but
was interested only in part-time work. Lauri decided to give her a
After working with Ethel, Lauri realized that she was
the person for the permanent position. The problem was then how to more
than part-time coverage. Her answer was to try a job-sharing situation.
Ethel suggested Barbara Johnson, who had worked for her at UC. Barbara
was a veteran of the Technical Services Department who also retired but
was interested in part-time work. Lauri consulted with the HR and Legal
Departments to work out the details. Ethel and Barbara are now
permanent Bank of America employees. They work well together to create
a smooth work flow and bring a wealth of experience to the position.
"What I don't know; Barbara does. It's an advantage that we have worked
together before," Ethel said.
Request Trained Personnel
recent years, many large organizations have chosen a 'sole' staffing
organization to supply all of their temporary help needs. This may work
well for clerical, accounting or other staffing,but not generally work
when the need is for specialized library skills and experience.
Establishing a case for bringing in trained personnel can make the
difference between creating more work and getting the job done right
the first time.
Lauri also had a major shifting project and
realized that a team of people under the direction of a project manager
was needed. AIM successfully filled her request. The project went well
because it was clearly defined, well supervised and appropriately
staffed. "I feel confident in working with this type of agency because
the candidates will have the skills we need," she noted. Lauri realized
that making do with untrained help often creates more work that may
need re-doing in the future and now requests AIM's staffing assistance
Identify Specific Needs
specific needs and projects offers more of a chance for approval than
pointing to a general need for additional help. There is a direct
correlation between cost and benefit in requesting help for situation
such as cataloging, inventorying or a sudden vacancy.
Mazor manages the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's San Francisco
library as well as their new Silicon Valley library. Recently, Debi
called AIM due to a sudden staffing shortage in the new library. Bob
Calhoun, an experienced library assistant, was chosen to handle
coverage for several months. Debi appreciates working with AIM because,
"It's an immediate solution. I can have someone in the next day if
that's what I need."
Use a Consultant
projects require that short term use of a highly experienced
professional. Knowing when to bring in a consultant can start the
project off on the right foot. From initiating an automation project to
designing a plan for a new library, consultants can save time and money
in the long run.
Jim Brighton for the Research and Planning
Unit of the Administration Office of the Courts (AOC) recognized a need
for specialized expertise in setting up a library. Jim described the
AOC as "information rich and accessibility poor." His goal was to
develop a multi-year/mutli-phase plan to combine their scattered
resources. AIM provided him with a consultant who has worked on a
variety of planning projects over the years.
Value Your Work
shortages impact the work load. Absorbing additional work into already
busy staff schedules either results in scramblingto reassign
priorities, creating a backlog or implying that staff was not operating
at peak capacity. Handling inordinate amounts of work is tiring and
frustrating. As odd as it may seem, handling vacancies without bring in
additional help can devalue your work!
Make Your Vendor Your Partner
with a staffing service that is responsive to your needs is part of the
secret to success. Using a vendor that provides access to a large pool
of skilled and experienced personnel, a variety of staffing approaches
and competent, professional placement counselors can save you time and
money. They can prescreen qualified candidates, thereby, eliminating
the need for high-cost advertising and the time drain of wading through
inappropriate resumes. Additionally, when when you finally have
received approval to bring in help, the faster you find someone the
more likely you are not to lose the approval.
We hope these
ideas will help you justify the use of outside staffing when it is
appropriate. As experienced staffing industry specialists within the
library and information field, we hope you will look to AIM as your