The Library Workflow: Three Challenges to Address

Workflow | October 24, 2017

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A proper library workflow is the thread that keeps your library together. So how can you address challenges within the library workflow?

Library workflows are not only an important part of the daily job, they’re the thread that keeps the back end of libraries together. What patrons don’t see is a complex system where the threads of the library workflow cross and intertwine to ensure the front-end experience runs as smoothly as possible.

In order to discuss the challenges that meet the library workflow, it’s important to define what a workflow is. An article written by Lisa Mackinder in The Serials Librarian (1) helps articulate the meaning of this idea. “Workflows can be seen as the set of overarching directives that allow staff to manage a process, which, for e-resources staff, could be investigating, ordering, licensing, activating, deactivating, or troubleshooting an electronic resource (and all of the smaller processes in between).”

Below, we dive into three main challenges of the library workflow.

Selection and Ordering

Collection development is one of the most important, yet challenging, components in the library workflow. The goal of your library’s collection development is to meet the goals of your institution while satisfying the research needs of your end user. Having the right tools in place for selection and ordering is vital to the success of your library. The biggest challenges within selection and ordering are managing subscription workflows; finding, ordering and managing both e-books and print books for your library; and then building specific content items -- which leads into the next challenge.

Collection development is one of the most important, yet challenging, components in the library workflow. 

Resource Management

Resource management has certainly evolved over the years. Your library is most likely home to a mixture of electronic resources and physical resources. The diversity of your resources can be a blessing and a challenge. Managing these resources while finding vendors, packages and title lists can quickly get chaotic. Investing in a platform that shares a knowledge base and administrative functions, while also including state-of-the-art linking, is vital to the success of resource management.

Analysis

Without tools to provide proper analyses of content, you have zero insight into what’s working and what gaps need to be filled to build your collection and increase usage. Navigating to various platforms for the right data or using cumbersome tools to pull data and usage statistics can lead to frustration while wasting time and effort. The key to successful analysis is a centralized, vendor-neutral platform that manages statistics, generates multiple reports, and integrates with subscription management tools.

Press play to learn about the right tools to help improve the library workflow.

Sources: Mackinder, Lisa. 2014. "The Seemingly Endless Challenge: Workflows." Serials Librarian 67, no. 2: 158-165

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