Part Five – Overcoming 6 Challenges to Special Library Sustainability



March 31, 2017
This is the fifth post in our series about the six major challenges to library success. No matter the organization size, sector or geography, the same challenges to sustainability keep surfacing during our conversations with information management professionals. Please read on for our thoughts on the fifth most pressing issue special librarians are facing today—dependence on the IT department, or on costly vendor services.

A challenge faced by almost all libraries (and probably the most costly in terms of time and money) is the lack of library-owned tools for managing an ILS or KM platform. Without great and easy to use tools, information professionals must depend on the IT department or external consultants to keep the platform current.

What we hear

“I can’t make any changes or enhancements to our system, or take care of any upgrades myself. I have to rely on the IT department and they often have other priorities—and third party consultants are simply beyond our budget.”


The result? The library can’t offer solutions that keep pace with user expectations and demand, and ultimately falls behind industry standards and innovations—resulting in diminishing visibility, and the problem of users going elsewhere for content and information.

Overcoming the Challenge

As much as the IT department can be the biggest roadblock to moving forward, they can also be your strongest ally when building your case for the right solution. A solution that, ultimately, removes them from the equation. Sound like a win–win? Absolutely!

More than simply supporting IT by offloading services to a cloud hosted solution, in order to be truly independent of IT and your ILS vendor, you need tools that enable you to manage your platform, and adapt to a changing environment. From something as simple as adding a new metadata field, all the way to absorbing a new collection, and perhaps even launching a web campaign to update your clients on new content and services, you need tools that enable you—on your own—to adapt, build and grow.

This enables you to keep your focus on user adoption, which is absolutely critical to the success and viability of your library. This is a growing challenge for every special librarian; it’s no longer good enough to simply provide an access point to information.

To retain your customers, support the continued visibility of your services, and continually illustrate the value you bring to your organization, usability must remain intuitive, access must be convenient, and content needs to be relevant and up to date.

The bottom line

Your ILS/KM solution should be built to support growth and innovation while allowing you to easily design your own database configuration and content views, and leverage functionality that enables information sharing and portal management—without being a coder. With the right solution, you can take control, and eliminate dependence on IT and/or costly vendor services and support.

We’ll address the remaining challenge to library sustainability in future blog posts, so please stay tuned. If you’d like to watch our recent webinar, “How to Overcome 6 Important Library Challenges,” we have posted it below—please check it out.

If you’ve faced and/or addressed this challenge, we’d love to to hear about your experiences. Please share via the comments box below.


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