Structural Review, Change Management and Implementation

Unlocking value in a research and reference library through the application of business process mapping and job analysis techniques

The client

The State Library of NSW

The challenge

The State Library of New South Wales is a world leading library and centre for digital excellence committed to the continuing development of its collection of international renown. In 2012, it became evident that the Library’s funding from government was reducing and that the Library needed to find new ways to deliver its services. Analysis of the Library’s position showed that it needed to reduce staffing by 20%. Following an organisational assessment, it was decided to undertake specific reviews of branches and activities within the Library to reposition and refocus resources.

The solution

Fyusion joined with Vicki McDonald, Executive Director, Library and Information Services, to present a paper to the 2015 Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Libraries (QQML) conference, detailing the method and outcomes of the project. The abstract of the paper is included below.

This paper describes how the collection management function at the Library was reviewed and the specific research approach that was applied to not only identify areas where efficiencies might be found but also to position the Library for the future. Professional work, such as that of librarians, involves complex tasks that call for autonomy and the use of judgment (Alvesson 2004; Greenwood, Hinings et al 1990). It can be difficult to disaggregate this type of work and identify where effective cutbacks can be made and savings found. To understand how collection management work was being delivered, the Library engaged an organisational development and consulting firm, Fyusion Asia Pacific, to undertake a review of the collection management function. The project adopted a job analysis approach which involved:

  • Working with teams of staff to map in detail their current activities, providing insights into how each team understood and shared its work; and

  • Administering an online survey of all staff to discover how individual roles were performed across the function.

By combining these two data collection methods, this approach yielded a significant amount of detailed and granular quantitative data about the day-to-day work involved in delivering the collection management function. It also provided rich qualitative data about the context in which the work was being delivered. Analysis of the data revealed that work practices across the collection management function differed significantly by item format and that this was leading to inefficiencies and duplication of effort. It also showed that the collection management processes relating to digital items were underdeveloped at the Library.

The review enabled the Library to implement a new structure for the collection management function that was format agnostic and also achieved the resource savings required. The new structure introduces a stronger model for skills-based specialisation and provides a pathway for the Library to build its capability and capacity to make its extensive digital collection accessible now and into the future. Complementing the new organisational structure is stronger governance focussed on open and transparent decision making.

Alvesson, M. (2004) Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms. New York, Oxford University Press.
Greenwood,R., C.R.Hinings and J.Brown. (1990) “’P2’-Form Strategic Management: Corporate Practices in the Professional Partnership”. Academy of Management Journal 33: 725-755.