Telling the Technical Services Story: Communicating Value

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

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The real-world initiatives and straightforward advice in this collection will embolden technical services managers and administrators to demonstrate the value of their work to stakeholders throughout their organization.

Technical Services isn’t the hidden discipline it once was. Even so, despite all the cross-departmental interaction, misconceptions about the work are all too common. It’s incumbent on technical services staff to take a proactive approach by communicating to others their value to the library and institutional mission. Spotlighting several successful initiatives, this collection will give you the guidance to bolster communication within departments, across the library, and campus-wide. You’ll learn about

  • applying the 7 principles of communities of practice to break down silos;
  • software such as Trello, Basecamp, and Confluence that can improve communications workflows;
  • ticketing systems and training to help frontline staff solve e-resource access problems;
  • engaging faculty in collection decisions using a mix of communication channels;
  • how informational classes on metadata can improve the work of staff across the library;
  • supporting research data management through metadata outreach; 
  • using focus groups to develop shared expectations with subject librarians;
  • 4 narrative strategies to market library resources;
  • using infographics as a dynamic way to illustrate progress in a collection management program;
  • developing an external communication plan for a library de-selection project;
  • using portfolio management to collaboratively implement new services; and
  • planning a cross-departmental retreat.


Part I     Communication within the Department

Chapter 1    Usable Documentation for Technical Services: How to Win Friends and Confluence People
Autumn Faulkner and Emily Sanford

Chapter 2    Using Basecamp Project Management Software to Improve Communication and Efficiency
Patrick Flanigan

Chapter 3    Retreating to Advance Together: Communicating through Internal and External Retreats
Gwen Meyer Gregory

Chapter 4    Up, Down, and Sideways: Multidirectional Communication within a Multifaceted Technical Services Project
Melissa Moll and Shelby Strommer

Part II     Communication across Library Departments

Chapter 5     Small but Mighty: Cultivating a Community of Practice to Document the Past and Prepare for the Future
Kaylan Ellis, Jennifer Donley, and Christopher Deems

Chapter 6     Interdepartmental Communication through Informational Classes: Creating a Community of Cataloging and Metadata Stakeholders in an Academic Library
Xiying Mi, Bonita Pollock, and Brian Falato

Chapter 7     Improving Interdepartmental Communication and Workflows: A Survey of Workflow Tools and the Implementation of Trello at the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries
Erin Block and Kimberly Lawler

Chapter 8     Communicating E-Resource Access Issues: Marymount University’s Steps to Create Troubleshooting Training for Public Services 
Meghan Burke

Chapter 9     Investigating Communication Breakdown between Technical Services Departments and Subject Librarians
Jennifer A. Mezick and Elyssa M. Gould

Part III     Communication outside the Library

Chapter 10     Collections as a Campus Conversation: The Colorado School of Mines’ Approach to Collection Development
Anna Seiffert

Chapter 11     What Difference Does It Make? Marketing in Technical Services at a Special Library
Hilary Hargis and Jenny Novacescu

Chapter 12     Continuous Improvement: Using Collaboration between Technical Services, IT, and Public Services to Make an Impact
Heather Jeffcoat, Marlee Givens, Sofia Slutskaya, and Karen E. Viars

Chapter 13     Expand Your Reach, Empower Your Community: Implementing a Metadata Outreach Service Program
Maggie Dull

Chapter 14     Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: A Case Study for Engaging Faculty and University Administration with a Multiyear Deselection Project
Jamie Hazlitt and Glenn Johnson-Grau


  •     Appendix A: Follow-Up Survey Questions
  •     Appendix B: Example of a Collections Updates E-Mail
  •     Appendix C: Browse Feature in Primo
  •     Appendix D: Questions for IRB Protocol “How Undergraduate Students Use the Primo Catalog”

About the Contributors

Kimberley A. Edwards

Kimberley A. Edwards is the head of database integrity and analysis at George Mason University Libraries. She received her MLIS from the University of Kentucky, and prior to her current role she worked in the circulation and technical services departments of several college and government libraries. She has presented on collection management and analysis tools and techniques at a range of national and international conferences.

Tricia Mackenzie

Tricia Mackenzie is the head of metadata services at George Mason University Libraries. She received her MLS with a specialization in digital libraries from Indiana University and has an MA in history from Southern Illinois University−Edwardsville. Prior to her current role, she was the metadata librarian at George Mason University Libraries. She has presented at regional, national, and international conferences on topics relating to cataloging and metadata creation and quality control, authority control, and data management.


The former Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) are now Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new division of ALA. Its mission is to cultivate and amplify the collective expertise of library workers in core functions through community building, advocacy, and learning.

"[This collection] includes many creative examples of how technical services staff tackled challenging problems and solved them through the use of technology or improved communication methods. It addresses key issues in academic libraries and technical services, and provides insightful ways to evaluate and resolve them. The chapters are well-written and well-edited, and most chapters include references and notes that will provide further resources for the practitioner ... I recommend this book for any professional library where there is interest in how technical services can improve communication both internally and externally."
— Technicalities

"This work is a good example of case studies describing how technical services units in libraries communicate and demonstrate their value to other departments within their libraries and within their parent institutions. As the information ecosystem continues to evolve, the niche that technical services librarians' knowledge and skills fill will shift. These case studies are valuable examples for practitioners of how they might successfully communicate their value and redefine that niche ... A worthwhile read for technical services librarians looking for ideas on how to improve communications in their unit and with those outside their units."
— Technical Services Quarterly

”The editors have gathered inspiring case studies centered around modern technical services departments in a range of research institutions across the United States. The authors of each chapter point out key issues faced within the past few years or so and provide examples of strategies used to solve them through effective communication ... In addition to the insightful case studies, this book also contains examples of surveys, infographics, and an appendix complete with various kinds of content that support the stories appearing within. Practically, this book can serve as a useful modern guide for other technical services departments who are looking to improve their communication."
— Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship