Work of the Committee
UCB Library's Public Electronic Access Systems -- Organizational Models for PEAS Administration
A restructuring of our public electronic access systems will have a profound impact on the whole library organization and on the public face of the Library. The process we use to redesign access to our electronic systems may change how we can use our time and how we view ourselves. Moving from a complex and confusing public interface to one that is easy to navigate and intuitive to users will take a great deal of work, time and expertise. But such a move will free staff to collaborate with faculty and students at higher levels than they can do now. Unifying the "look and feel" of the U.C. Berkeley Library web pages will offer rich opportunities for us to articulate and emphasize our identity.
One portion of the charge to the Public Electronic Access Systems (PEAS) Committee is to "Investigate organizational models that can be used by the Library to implement and maintain user interfaces and systems that are under our control and that meet your recommended principles." The PEAS Committee reviewed several different models of administration, after a sub-group spoke to staff at other institutions and reviewed the sparse literature on this topic. The Committee determined, that in order to be successful, PEAS needs a full-time Manager, assisted by Advisory Council, and additional staff dedicated to implementing the systems designed.
Duties of the Manager should include responsibility for
- envisioning new responses to changes in user needs and the technological environment.
- providing leadership for the development process.
- soliciting input; synthesizing feedback.
- coordinating system design.
- implementing changes.
- assessing system success.
- educating users and library staff.
- setting standards and establishing procedures.
- representing the Library with other groups such as e-Berkeley and the CDL.
Possessing technical know-how, the manager should come from a public service background, and ideally have experience in conducting usability studies.
The Council will advise, educate, collaborate, coordinate, gather input, translate, and act as a sounding board for the PEAS Manager. To provide input from all shareholders, the Advisory Council should include representation from users, Public Service staff, data owners of web pages, Technical Services and Systems staff. The AUL/Director for Public Services should be an ex officio member of this Council.
Staff, under the leadership of the PEAS Manager, needs to be dedicated to the project in order both to design and carry out changes to systems, as well as to assist data owners in implementing agreed-upon standards.
The PEAS Manager position will be critical to the future of the Library, and should be placed highly enough in the organization to have the ear of top administrators. Key to the success of the position will also be the incumbent's ability and authority to cross organizational boundaries.
After a broad discussion of the pros and cons of six reporting structures, the Committee narrowed down the choices to three, ranked in order of preference:
Model 1: Manager reports to the AUL/ Director for Public Services; the Council reports to the PEAS Manager. (The majority of PEAS members favored this model.)
- This model makes primary the Public Service orientation of the position, stressing the importance of our users, as reflected in the principles. Their needs should drive the process and inform the priorities and assignment of resources.
- The Advisory Council will be singly focused on PEAS issues. (The existing Public Services Council was considered for this role, but it seems to PEAS members that redesign of the Library public electronic access systems will require more time and attention than PSC may be able to provide.)
- The position will be less directly connected to the Library Systems Office, possibly resulting in slower implementation of changes. Having the manager physically located in Systems could alleviate this.
- Another separate committee is created (rather than adding this responsibility, for example, to the Public Services Council).
- Manager has less direct influence on Librarywide allocation of resources.
Model 2: Manager reports to the University Librarian; the Council reports to the PEAS Manager.
- This model would give the redesign and integration of our public systems the greatest independence, access to resources, and proximity to leadership.
- Puts the greatest organizational importance on the position.
- Closest to budget decisions.
- Feedback of the Council is provided directly to the top of the organization.
- The Advisory Council will be singly focused on PEAS issues, rather than having to fit these in along with many other Public Service issues.
- Position is too far removed from front-line staff and users.
- Adds another reporting line to already burdened (with nine or ten direct reports) top-level administration.
Model 3: Manager reports to the Head of Systems; Council reports to the Manager.
- Will have immediate impact on LSO programming project list.
- Will be in close proximity to the LSO unit heads who manage and maintain the PEAS infrastructure.
- Manager will be automatically included in LSO unit head meetings to stay informed of LSO projects.
- PEAS Council has direct impact on LSO.
- No direct reporting line to Public Services; design not Public Service driven.
- May dilute our principles that focus on user needs and user-centered design.
- May dilute input and buy-in from Public Service staff if report is to LSO.
- Although the AUL/Director for Public Services would be an ex-officio member of the PEAS Council, extra care would be required to ensure that the AUL/Director for Public Services is kept fully informed of PEAS projects and plans.
- May create undue organizational complexity.
Although there are compelling reasons for choosing one model over another, and any model might succeed, without strong direction from and accountability to Public Services, the redesign of our public electronic access systems would not flourish. And while it is particularly appealing to have the PEAS Manager report to "the top," it ultimately may not be in the best interests of the organization to have this position report to a very busy University Librarian with many competing responsibilities.
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