Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

You say Tomato, I say Tomato

The following paragaph was part of the editorial comments I made in the Pinhawk Librarian News Digest email (also part of Pinhawk Blog) that I send out each morning.  The topic is something I have something to say about so, instead of taking the entire editorial comment to tell you what I think, I’m posting my ideas here.

Jeff Brandt knows something about working with librarians since he’s had his share of experience doing just that as a law firm CIO. It’s no wonder then, that 3 Geeks and the Law asked him to write a rebuttal to Greg Lambert’s scathing indictment of CIOs. My take on this argument is that both librarians and CIOs (maybe not IT staff) have moved forward in their relationships, but there are still holdouts. Read more at Law firms taking a half-hearted approach to social media.

My further take on this is that we won’t really learn how to work as a team until we acknowledge the difference between library staff and IT staff and do something about understanding our motives. IT is focused on providing a solution for the entire firm by standardizing all users’ experience with technology. They are more successful if they focus on serving the firm as a whole. While a librarian’s role is to provide service to the firm, they are more focused on the individual needs of offices, practice groups and individual lawyers.

Additionally, IT staff can’t seem to move beyond the idea that librarians don’t have technical skills and library staff see IT as inflexible and unable to communicate. Put these beliefs together with the motives each has that drives their work and we get two departments at odds with each other. Even if the CIO “gets” the value of the library, the IT staff can undo any understanding by not providing the support the CIO has promised. In return, the librarians experience what they see as IT’s unwillingness to provide support.

On the other hand, I’m sure that someone in IT can also point out the results of these interactions. They see the librarians continuing to focus on creating exceptions to standardization. In the eye’s of the IT staff, the library staff look like they don’t understand technology. The result is IT feeling nagged by the library and the library feeling unsupported by IT.

To move beyond this, both CIOs and Library (Information Resources, etc.) Directors or sometimes CKOs, need to help their staffs understand the difference between how the other department’s staff approach their work and why it’s OK for each to have a different perspective. Once that becomes known and truly understood, we will see the department’s starting to make a difference in a way that they can’t do on their own.

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