Library Technology Guides

Document Repository

Smart Libraries Newsletter

Smart Libraries Q&A: How technology impacts library staffing

Smart Libraries Newsletter [July 2021]


I would be interested in how changes in library software design and use will impact the future of library technology staff. Until recently, my title was systems librarian. I have held systems librarian positions in public, law, and medical libraries. Both the law and medical libraries were downsized, and neither place retained the systems librarian position. Has this title already morphed into something different?

The decrease in positions designated as systems librarian coincides with the shift to more core library services implemented through software-as-a-service and other hosted implementations. As the requirements for local systems administration has decreased, some libraries have evolved the position descriptions and titles.

Positions with the title systems librarian emerged in the early phase of automation. The individuals in these positions were tasked with management of the integrated library system, which often involved a combination of technical administration of servers, operating systems, and software as well as assisting other staff with its functional capabilities. One of the key roles of the systems librarian involves enabling technical systems to optimally support the daily tasks of the work of the library.

Even as roles evolve, it seems important to have individuals with expertise that can ensure the smooth operation of technology-based products and that can translate local library issues or concerns to vendors or system developers. Even when given other titles, it remains beneficial to invest in positions that blend technical expertise with a strong understanding of library operations and values.

Especially in smaller organizations, the shift to SaaS-based technology diminishes the need to have a dedicated position for managing the core automation system. Some may have full-time technology positions focused more on the library's website and other patron-facing services, carrying the title web services librarian. Other technology-oriented roles include those involved with digital humanities, analytics and assessment, or digitization services. This trend seems mostly beneficial to libraries, shifting resources from managing underlying computer infrastructure to technologies more closely connected with patron services.

View Citation
Publication Year:2021
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 41 Number 07
Issue:July 2021
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Series: Smart Libraries Q&A
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Record Number:26474
Last Update:2023-01-24 20:32:35
Date Created:2021-07-07 13:58:22