The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected: Adding the Tech Department to the Library (Part 1)

At the beginning of last year, the Director of the Tech Department and I decided that we could enhance the student experience by bringing the Tech Help Desk into the library. I mean, what could be better? It would be a one-stop shop to provide tech and information help to our students. Everyone was on board. Almost one year later we have realized this change. (Yes, you read that right. It’s taken almost a year.) I wanted to share our experience with you in case you were considering a change in your library.

The Good:

  1. We created a streamlined experience for the students to cut down on time away from class and the separation of resources.
  2. It has been very helpful to join two departments. The influx of knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to us.
  3. The Circulation Desk/Support Spot is now the place for checking out books, helping with research queries, checking out loaner laptops, and getting tech questions answered.
  4. There are more printing opportunities for the students with shorter lines for each resource.
  5. We do not have to reroute questions from one department to another since we are both located in the same space.

The Bad:

  1. Space was a bigger issue than we originally anticipated. Before the move, we took many measurements and made detailed plans, but we were still taken by surprise. Needless to say, we feel like we are playing Tetris.
  2. We do not have a silent library. The tech department is used to a more quiet space. Work flow and ease of communication are being impacted during the library’s busiest times.

The Unexpected:

  1. We are still trying to figure out how the collaboration between the two departments will be the most effective. It has been challenging at times to determine who should take the lead on certain decisions and procedures.
  2. Rebranding the Circulation Desk as a multifunctional resource is ongoing. The entire community needs to adjust to the change, which includes addressing the way “it’s always been done” and the way that it needs to be done now to best serve our users. Breaking tradition and changing routines is always hard.
  3. We expected the need to mesh several diverse personalities and work styles, but the transition of the work space along with culture shift has made the contrast more apparent.

All told, we count this move as a success. The students are being served more efficiently, which was the main purpose behind the transition. Part 2 will follow next month, when we’ve had a chance to settle in to the new year. Wish us luck!

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