During this project, I worked in a suburban public library, located in a more or less affluent community. This library serves the needs of approximately fifteen thousand people of various age groups. I cooperated with an acquisition librarian whose primary responsibility was to order new books for the library. Five employees (acquisition staff) worked under her guidance, and one of her duties was to oversee them.
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Overall, I may say that the acquisition librarian has a very wide scope of duties:
- to review the announcement, made by various publishers in order to be aware of any books which will soon be available;
- to create the list of those publications that may need to be published;
- to evaluate the offerings, made by various vendors;
- to distribute the books to various departments of the library.
Judging from my own experience, I may say that this acquisition librarian always coordinates her effort with other members of the staff, for instance, with instruction librarians, who provide her information about those books which are most often requested by the readers. One of the key challenges that an acquisition librarian has to resolve is how to keep the library collection up-to-date while staying within the limits of the budget. My client has to spend a substantial amount of time on the evaluation of prices, set by various book vendors. Furthermore, she frequently participates in library exchange programs which allow her to replenish the library collection at a lesser expense.
This acquisition librarian frequently takes part in various conferences and education events that are frequently held in other cities. So, she asked my recommendation as to how she could better organize the work of her subordinates at the time when she was not directly supervising them. Some of them have yet to obtain a Master’s Degree in library science and they still needed guidance.
I suggested that she should compile the list of those activities which each of them has to do within the time of her absence:
- the search of information about soon-to-be-published books and periodicals;
- the visits to the local book shops in order to learn more about new publications and the prices;
- the review of discounts which would be available to the library;
- distribution of new books to the library sections.
In other words, I suggested that she should set specific goals, which each of her subordinates has to accomplish during the time of her absence. One of my long-term recommendations was to involve these people in decision-making. For example, I suggested that at least two times a year she should conduct work seminars with them; during these seminars, her subordinates would be able to express their views on the functioning of the acquisition department and propose some ways of improving its work. In my view, such an approach would make their work more productive. I do not know for a fact if this recommendation proved to be useful for her, but she accepted it and said that she added that she should encourage them to be more initiative.
Overall, this experience is of great value to me since it increased my understanding of how a certain type of organization works and what are the challenges, faced by its managers. Additionally, I learned more about the functioning of non-profit organizations.
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Stueart, R., & Moran, B. (2007). Library & Information Center Management (7th ed.). Littleton: Libraries Unlimited.