Eliminating Outdated Workflows: Developing The New



One benefit of the pandemic is that traditional workflows were suddenly subject to examination. While some could readily move fully online, others had to be re-examined, leading us to question why we were still performing a particular task in a particular way. Was it inertia or simply outdated thinking? Could some tasks be handled differently, more effectively? Could changing a workflow free up time for the information community — and the researchers we serve — to focus on other more valuable work? In the first of this two-part series, you’ll hear from some of the professionals responsible for tweaking some of our old workflows and processes and managing these changes.

Confirmed speakers include Christopher Cox, Dean of the Libraries, Clemson University; Trevor A. DawesVice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian, University of Delaware; Sara Lowman, Vice Provost and University Librarian Fondren Library, Rice University; and Jeremy Myntti, Associate University Librarian for Metadata & IT Services, Brigham Young University. 

Event Sessions

Roundtable Discussion


Trevor A. Dawes

Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian
University of Delaware

Sara Lowman

Vice Provost and University Librarian
Rice University

Jeremy Myntti

Associate University Librarian for Metadata and IT
Brigham Young University Library

This Roundtable Discussion is moderated by Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of NISO. 

The discussion by participants touched on the following:

There are specific workflows that have been traditionally associated with the library, regardless of what type of library it is. Some of those might be largely automated tasks such as acquisitions, cataloging, serials’ check-in, etc. while other workflows might have to be handled manually. There are workflows that have become entrenched because – well, because that’s just the way we have always done this particular thing – and other workflows that changed in the face of an imminent need.  So let’s begin by asking what is uppermost now when you think about workflows in your library?  What are the types of things that fall under the category of gee, there ought to be a better way? What are the types of workflow tasks that changed under the impact of COVID that have made you say let’s keep this particular workflow or service going

What are some of the priorities or indicators for you that drive your determination that a workflow is in need of change?

Are you seeing changes needed more in externally facing workflows (dealing with patrons, as an example) or in workflows that are more internal (librarian-specific) ways?  

Are there operational workflows that you are choosing to de-emphasize or seeking to automate or out-source in order to redirect energies to other priorities? What does that imply for re-allocation of staff?

How do you deal with the need to recruit and on-board new staff after changes caused by the pandemic’s Great Resignation? How do you see those new staff members making it easier to introduce new workflows?  

Is support for remote work impacting the way your library workflows are designed?  Are there examples of how your library may have adapted to allow staff a new balance between off-site and on-site activity? 

During the pandemic, we saw an increased need for rapid delivery of items and access arrangements to satisfy patron needs. In the context of expanded inter-library loan activities, resource sharing, or shared collection arrangements, what has been the impact on or the implications for workflows? What does that mean for long-term planning?

Again, as part of the impact felt during the pandemic, what are you seeing with people wanting to return to the “old way” of handling these workflows? Is there resistance to rethinking how long-standing services are delivered? How are you fostering a positive adaptation to new ways?

How are you assessing the effectiveness of workflow changes made thus far? How are you spreading news of successful shifts? 

How changes in workflow or services better enabled you to demonstrate to administrators the library’s efficiency and value to the institution?   

Resources, literature, and more!

Inside Higher Ed: Changed, Changed Utterly (June 2020) - Christopher Cox predicts the significant ways academic libraries will shift in terms of collections, services, spaces and operations as a result of the pandemic.

MATCHMARC.COM -  Automate Your Marc Record Search

MatchMARC Google Sheet Extension App - MatchMARC is a Google Apps Script published as a Google Sheets Addon. It is a tool that automates MARC record searches. It uses OCLC's WorldCat Search API.

Waitz at Rice University - Check real-time crowd levels on campus. Know before you go with Waitz

KnowItAll Software & Databases - This advanced software has an integrated environment for complete spectral searching, analysis and data mining.

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