Q&A Head of Technical Services in a Law Library, What’s In Your Job Description


I am interested in finding out the types of assignments that other Heads of Tech Services (or equivalent titles) are responsible for, besides just running the tech services dept. I’m wondering if there is a future for those of us in this position. Is this position part of the hierarchy which may become unnecessary? What ways are you dealing with the transition of tech services depts.? I would appreciate it if you could share your thoughts and possibly your position descriptions with me. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the future.


I had a couple of suggestions that we discuss this issue at the Technical Services Management Issues Roundtable. I also think a variation of it: “Reinventing Tech Services” might be a good TS Hot Topic. I may even get an article out of it.

All of the replies were sent to me personally. Several people requested anonymity. For the sake of everyone’s privacy, I will speak in general terms and not refer specifically to any person or library. The majority of the responses I got were from academic law libraries. I got one response from a firm librarian and one from a state,county, court librarian.

As I read through your replies, I noticed several recurring themes:

1. Almost everyone who replied has other responsibilities beside managing the Tech Services Dept. Some folks supervise areas that aren’t commonly thought of as Tech Services. Some of the “other jobs” we have include:

Systems administrator for ILS.
Library Administration Government Documents ( all except reference questions)
Collection Management, Stacks Maintenance Collection Development Rare Books Gifts Exhibits Training Coordinator Maintenance of Faculty Scholarship and institutional repositories Copyright Clearance Updating library website Technology Planning Knowledge Management We are a talented group!

2. Every time a staff member, professional or support, leaves, the dept. is re-organized and duties are eliminated or added.

3. As more print cancellations are done and more electronic resources replace them, there is less traditional serials check-in and processing, therefore less for support staff to do. Many of us are scrambling to find other work for them to do, lest their positions be eliminated.

4. Several people are also performing basic TS functions such as acquisitions and cataloging themselves, in the absence or vacancy of other professional positions. They wonder what would fill their days if they didn’t have this extra work.

5. Several of us think that there is the possibility that the Head of Tech Services position might be eliminated, since some directors are flattening their hierarchies.

6. We all agreed that we still have an important role to play in quality control, employee management, and making sense out of electronic resources management, if that’s possible!

As for my story: I have very capable acquisitions and cataloging librarians who each supervise employees. The department is running well. We don’t have a functioning ERM system yet but the acquisitions librarian is a whiz in keeping track of the information on spread sheets. I am about to develop a systematic preservation program for our collections. I will also take over the faculty research repository and possibly copyright clearance. But I had to ask for more to do. I’ve also filled my time with professional activities.
*When posting this type of material it is my policy to not identify any specific individual, group, or organization in order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all concerned.

David Badertscher

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