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Trends in New Zealand special libraries Gillian Ralph and Julie Sibthorpe November 2009. Trends in New Zealand special libraries. Acknowledgements Introduction Methodology Research Findings Transitional stage Conclusions Future. Acknowledgements.

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Trends in New Zealand

special libraries

Gillian Ralph


Julie Sibthorpe

November 2009

trends in new zealand special libraries
Trends in New Zealand special libraries
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Research
  • Findings
  • Transitional stage
  • Conclusions
  • Future

Paul Szentirmay Special Librarianship Scholarship Trust

AC Nielson


A big THANKS to

New Zealand Special Librarians


  • Special library :

an information unit within a public or private corporation, government agency or non-profit organisation

  • Closure :

used to mean an organisation where there is no longer a librarian or there is no longer a library collection or service

introduction and methodology
Introduction and Methodology


  • Concern for
    • Small but important special libraries
    • Closures and jobs survey


    • Literature search
    • Interviews and Focus group
    • Online questionnaire
research findings
Research findings
  • International comparison
  • External factors
  • Internal factors
  • Professional groups
  • Talking with you
  • Statistics
  • Questionnaire results
  • Effect of closures
our findings
Our findings

International experience

Comparison with New Zealand

our findings1
Our findings

External factors


International mergers and acquisitions

our findings2
Our findings

Factors within our control:

  • Improve our managers’ perceptions
  • Improve our perceptions of ourselves
our findings3
Our findings

Professional groups

  • Cohesiveness in health, medical, legal libraries
  • Collaborative environment in
    • Government, Theological and GLAM sectors
  • Corporate libraries - lack of standards, guidelines, support
  • SLA support
our findings4
Our findings

Talking with you

  • Interviews and focus group
  • Moving from traditional roles
  • Redundancies
  • High visibility / marketing / training
  • Sharing successes and news
  • Statistics
our findings statistics1
Our findings - Statistics

What has happened in the intervening years?

  • 149 Closed
  • 37 Downsized / merged / amalgamated
  • 12 Reinstated
  • 110 Special libraries established
  • 237 Functioning special libraries 2008
questionnaire results
Questionnaire results

Activities to undertake

  • Stressful times – so be kind to yourself.
  • Reviews are often times for new ideas - take care of yourself.
  • Don’t complain about everything and don’t hide in a corner.
  • There is nothing you can do. I have been made redundant 5 times.
  • Try vigorously shaking the non-information manager responsible for the mess about to happen
questionnaire results1
Questionnaire results

What kind of support was received?

  • 59% survey respondents made redundant
  • Half had no support
  • Some offered human resources and internal management support, Employee Assistance Programmes, counsellors and consultants brought in to assist.
  • Only one was offered retraining.
  • Two people had the support of a union.
  • Library colleagues in other libraries were best support for some others.
  • Support from LIANZA and Special Libraries Association
questionnaire results personal comments
Questionnaire results – personal comments
  • Closures seen as a way to cut costs. In dollar terms no one is considering the value the library adds and the savings made.
  • Many resources appear to be permanently lost from the national collections. New Zealand material is very hard to find even using Union Catalogue lists
  • Redundancy need not be a negative thing. It makes you rethink your career choices and up skill accordingly
  • Special librarianship has to change. Everyone thinks they are a brilliant researcher these days thanks to Google. Training the Googlers to be better googlers and training in the use of appropriate databases is an opportunity.
suggestions for the profession
Suggestions for the profession
  • New professional standards and guidelines
  • Creation of skills and competencies lists
  • CPD activities – nationally coordinated
  • Seminars organised regularly
suggestions for individuals
Suggestions for individuals
  • Take personal responsibility - align the library fully with the goals of the organisation
  • Create a future-proofing strategy
  • Raise our profile – ‘preach what you practice’
  • Become involved in your organisation - SLIS, SLA etc
  • “Become true Managers of information”
suggestions for individuals1
Suggestions for individuals

There is still a need for special librarian skills, but:

“Sixty-eight percent of professionals wish they could spend less time organising information and more time using the information that comes their way.”2008 LexisNexis Workplace Productivity Survey, LexisNexis, December 2007 [WorldOneResearch, 2008]

http www lianza org nz community special libraries index html
future trends
Future trends
  • Identified
    • transitional stage
    • need to actively promote our services and ourselves
    • need to broaden range of professional skills and competencies
  • Created a web resource
  • Evolution, reinvention, realignment
quote from the late anita roddick
Quote from the late Anita Roddick

“If you think you are too small to be effective,

you have never been in bed with a mosquito“

  • Julie Sibthorpe
    • University of Auckland
  • Gillian Ralph
    • University of Auckland