[Prev Page] [Next Page ] [Contents]

The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

3.3.2 Structure and style

The pace of change, the need for improved communication and liaison with users, and rapid decisions on resource allocation will hasten progress toward devolved financial management and flatter staff structures. The proliferating choice of information products and services requires subject librarians and information specialists to play a significant part in assessing the cost- effectiveness of different options for information delivery (irrespective of whether the budget is held by the library or the end-user). Decision-making will be more complex and difficult as staff need to consider the comparative costs and benefits of print vs electronic, stand-alone vs networked, locally held vs nationally (or regionally) networked, and the conditions of use and search facilities offered by different suppliers, often for the same databases or publications. Quick, flexible responses will be required.

It is now argued that traditional hierarchies can impede communication, inhibit change and stifle individuality, and are unsuited to today's turbulent and challenging environment. New management arrangements involving devolved responsibility and decision making, and reflecting the multifunctional roles of staff, are already in place in many libraries. This principle is now being extended to budgetary control as new resource models become essential, to ensure that the costs of serving particular client groups can be properly identified, while still enabling economies of scale to be pursued by retaining traditional function/materials-based cost centres so that discounts can be negotiated with suppliers.

The overlapping roles between libraries and computer centres consequent on the development of networked services have prompted rethinking of the place of the library in the overall organisational structure. Even if separate structural units are retained, close co-operation is essential, and user support teams, bringing together library and computing expertise to ensure synergy through teamwork, will be required.

[Prev Page] [Next Page ] [Contents]

[UKOLN Home Page] [Papers and Reports] [British Library Papers and Reports ]