Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Corporate library scenario: a group recommendation

Olagen, Inc., a manufacturer of high-end cosmetics in the San Francisco Bay Area, employs some 450 people at its main office. Its “hard copy” library collection contains 3,000 books, 35 periodical titles, 200 technical reports, 200 training videotapes, 300 DVDs, 300 confidential product and competitor files and several loose leaf services.

In addressing policy issues for the Olagan corporate library, our group’s recommendation was that only employees have borrowing privileges in the library. Patrons would register with the librarian and would be given a user account that was based upon the employee’s ID number.

Books, periodicals, technical reports, training tapes, DVDs and loose leaf services would be permitted to circulate. Confidential product and competitor files would not be available; these would be classified as reference materials that could only be viewed in the library. An employee who wished to access them must have clearance with a higher-level manager.

The group suggests that check-out times vary depending upon projected demand and the need for turn-around: specifically that written materials such as books, periodicals and reports have a one-month check out time. Videos and DVDs would be limited to one-week check out.

Materials would be subject to annual consideration for weeding: products would be updated regularly because research changes.

Usage statistics and inventory would be kept by the librarian. The group recommends an automated catalog — either open-source like Scriblio or proprietary like SirsiDynix — to aid the librarian in compiling these statistics as well as to assist in keeping track of library inventory. We felt it would be particularly valuable for the librarian to document usage statistics to justify the library’s benefit as a corporate investment.

Concerning policy for overdue fees and other fines, the group recommended that overdue fees were unnecessary; employees would be charged to replace lost or damaged items.

In regard to library security, employees would only have access to the library during work hours. The group’s belief is that this library would not use interlibrary loan. For reasons of competitive intelligence, Olagen, Inc.’s corporate library would not lend out materials to other companies. However, it would provide document/resource delivery to Olagen, Inc. employees located at remote branch offices/sites.

Delivery would either be handled in-house as part of a staff courier’s route or, if use of library resources was above and beyond this normal traffic, it could be through a contractor. Either way, any charges would be coded to the department that requested the materials.

Only circulating materials would be eligible for document delivery. Items that were reference-only would not be delivered off-site.

Concerning the current staffing level of the Olagen, Inc. library: the group believes that a part-time, out-sourced LTA is insufficient given the important resource that the corporate library provides. Since information resources are among any competitive company’s most protected and valuable resources, it makes sense to expand this position.

The group suggests instead that Olagen, Inc., a sizable company, could benefit from hiring a full-time information specialist with subject expertise. This person could be more of a key player in the company’s day to day activities — present to actively seek out information that supports and furthers Olagen’s profit-making objectives, working directly with departments on special research projects, providing rapid access to journal articles and new research data, providing individualized services to its patrons, and providing secure access to its confidential files during business hours.

Compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 109, Library Public Services

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