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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A history of automation and its impact on staffing (White paper/case study)

 This white paper written by Virginia Feher and I started out as a conversation about the changes brought about by automation within the UGA Libraries. Over the years, I have documented some of the changes in automation (including 5 migrations/conversions of the ILS - Library catalog!) through discussions with colleagues within the Libraries and outside. This article not only provides a good overview of the impact of automation on one technical services unit within a library, but also a brief history of that automation. I also believe these changes are analogous to what has happened across technical services librarianship. We frame our conversation around a question posited by Horny in 1985. 
 To improve access to their collections, academic libraries automated cataloging functions, replacing the card catalog with the integrated library system (ILS), greatly impacting the day-to-day activities of library staff. How does automation affect staffing in an academic library? Horny (1985), while discussing the effects that changing technologies might have on librarianship, speculated that libraries would require support staff with “higher levels of knowledge and skill,” which would result in “more interesting and lucrative” jobs, “attracting an excellent caliber of staff” (p. 57).

For the purpose of examining the effects of automation on academic library staffing, this paper will
provide a discussion of changes in workflow and staffing at the University of Georgia (UGA) Libraries
Cataloging Department starting in the late 1970s, focusing on the Database Maintenance (DBM) Section. The discussion will demonstrate how an increasingly automated environment at the UGA Libraries resulted in the reorganization of duties and, because of the need for employees with greater technical expertise, the re-classification of staff positions to higher levels.

 read the full article at
COMO White Paper - The effect of automation on academic library staffing: A discussion

Recommended Citation

Fay, Robin and Feher, Virginia C. (2012) "COMO White Paper - The effect of automation on academic library staffing: A discussion," Georgia Library Quarterly: Vol. 49: Iss. 2, Article 7.
Available at:

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