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5.8 Appraisal of staff

Another look at performance appraisal in libraries


G. Edward Evans, BS, MS, MA, PhD Bendict Rugaas, Cand. Real, Bibliotekareksamen

Libraries around the world share many similarities in spite of different cultural and institutional settings. One similarity that many of them share today is the need to function in an environment of limited resources, both human and physical. Certainly, the cause of this problem is the world economic condition, and libraries, like other institutions and individuals, must attempt to make their limited financial resources stretch further and further. As a result, libraries have had to set priorities, cut back on a number of activities and/or stop or slow expansion programs. However, effort is devoted to at least maintaining, if not improving, the quality and types of services available to library patrons.

One method of maintaining quality and quantity of service in the face of diminishing purchasing power is to have more efficient and productive staff. Even without pressure to increase overall productivity, many libraries establish a base line for assessing individual staff member's performance. American libraries-in fact the majority of academic libraries1-employ a highly formalized system, with annual or semi-annual appraisal forms being filled out by supervisors to assess the performance of each staff member they supervise. Although no solid data are published on the number of public and school libraries using a formal appraisal process, probably all of those that are a part of a merit system are involved in annual appraisals.

One concern of administrators, supervisors, employees, management consultants, and teachers of management is and has been performance appraisal and what to do about it. Indeed, performance appraisal is assumed to be a fact of administrative and supervisory life. Management and personnel administration textbooks all make at least some reference to the process, while most of them devote one or two chapters to the topic, and entire books have been devoted to the theory and practice of conducting performance appraisals.2,3 Both ALA4 and ARL5 have issued collections of performance appraisal forms and guidelines in the last few years, and literally dozens of journal articles appear each year on the subject (for example, in 1979, some 93 articles were listed under the heading of performance appraisal in just Business Index and Library Literature). The following quotations typify statements about performance appraisal:

According to theory, what should performance appraisal do for the supervisor, the employee, and the organization? Based on an extensive review of the literature, it is possible to identify the following beliefs about the nature and function of formal performance appraisal systems in American organizations:

  1. The process is essential to good management.
  2. The process is natural or normal.
  3. The process is the only reasonable method available for assuring at least minimal performance.
  4. The process is the only valid basis for granting or withdrawing employee economic benefits.
  5. The process is the primary means of maintaining control of staff productivity.
  6. The process is essential for the growth and well-being of the individual employee.
  7. The process is an important element in an effective system of motivation.
  8. The process is essential in work orientation programs.
  9. The process is or can be an objective assessment of an individual's strengths and weaknesses.
  10. The process is primarily directed toward the subordinate.
  11. The process is continuous and reflects a careful analysis of the individual's daily performance.
  12. The process is equally effective whether carried out by a supervisor or the employee's peers.
  13. The process is concerned with all aspects of an individual's work, not just the performance of the assigned duties.
  14. The process is useful in assessing an employee's future and potential progress in the organization.
  15. The process is essential in planning organizational personnel needs for the present and the immediate future.
  16. The process is important in counseling and suggesting areas of improvement that the individual should achieve if the individual hopes to gain more responsible positions either in the organization or outside it.

This is a long and impressive list of functions for one process to accomplish. And if the process is conducted by a supervisor in terms of an individual, and if this is the normal procedure, it is inevitable that personalities will enter the picture and probably color the evaluations. Should this happen, the performance and productivity aspects may be lost in a maze of personality issues irrelevant to the work situation.

Although the literature review indicates a complex set of beliefs about the value and nature of personnel appraisal activities, it is possible to identify two general goals that can be achieved by means of performance appraisal: administrative and behavioral. On the administrative side, the process can supply the documentation on which to base decisions regarding individual employees (promotions, salary increases, transfers, and in extreme cases" demotions or dismissals). Behavioral goals relate to the question of how well the individual performs assigned tasks, and what can be done to improve performance. Although it is possible to make a case that the two goals are really the same, such an approach merely compounds an already highly complex situation. In theory, one process should be able to accomplish both goals. Also according to theory, formal performance appraisals should have a direct positive relationship to productivity: the closer the monitoring and greater the feedback on performance, the higher the productivity should be. Such does not seem to be the case. In fact, it might be argued that the process has just the opposite effect.

A comprehensive review of the literature attempting to locate answers to the question "do productivity measures pay off for employee performance?'' concluded that the data available were insufficient to answer the question, even in a tentative manner. 'Me report indicated a fairly large body of literature about the process of conducting an appraisal, comparison of different techniques, use of forms and their content, and so forth. However, very few studies addressed the question of the result of conducting the process? "Applications of productivity measurement to personnel management are beginning to be made as a consequence of more emphasis on organizational development and MBO, but we found no evaluation of such personnel practices. Nor are there scientific experimental studies of the impact on productivity of existing personnel practices."10 In essence, the emphasis has been on administrative goals rather than on the behavioral goal of increased productivity. My own literature search confirms the report's finding-to date, no article, book, or report has been found that provides data about the effect of performance appraisal on productivity. The closest that one comes to finding such data is in studies of employee attitudes about the appraisal process.

A 1953 study about worker attitudes toward performance appraisal as well as how it was conducted found that 74% of the 340 persons questioned felt the process had little or no effect as far as improving their performance (35% little value, 39% no value).11 More recently, 1980, an article entitled "Do Public Servants Welcome or Fear Merit Evaluation of Their Performance?" appeared in Public Administration Review.12 The researchers were concerned with determining "whether public employees consider the creation of a 'good' performance appraisal system to be both laudable and practical undertaking."13 They noted that many of the respondents indicated that an appraisal system was in existence in their agency and that it did not promote better performance. Even with the word "good" modifying the word "performance," only 82% of respondents agreed with the question "many people believe a good performance appraisal system can improve individual performance. Would you agree?" One interesting note is a sharp drop in support of the question as the length of service in the agency increased: 91% agreement from those employed less than a year to 76% for those with more than 10 years service.14 It is important to note that none of the questions asked related to personal performance but were about an abstract "individual" appraised by a "good" system.

We believe that two points are important about the above discussion. First, we have no direct evidence about the performance outcome of conducting performance appraisals. Second, in the United States there is an assumption that the process, in particular a "good" one, will lead to better performance. Perhaps we do not need the process at all.

Our interest in performance appraisal and the questioning of the need for the process started seven years ago. In 1973, Evans received a Council on Library Resources fellowship to study the training of librarians and library paraprofessionals in the Scandinavian countries. He used a highly structured interview schedule asking a variety of question (or as one Dane said, 10,000 questions) about the educational programs and their "value." Several of the questions related to evaluating a person's performance as a student, as a professional on the job, or as a teacher in a library school. After the second week of interviewing he spent some time tabulating the responses. A disturbing pattern, or rather a lack of pattern, became apparent for all questions relating to performance appraisal. Some people did not answer the questions, or people in the same organization gave almost opposite answers to questions about how performance appraisals were done. The cause of this outcome was unclear; Evans thought perhaps it was a language problem. Fortunately, not long after that, he interviewed a Danish librarian who had worked in an American library for over five years. She responded to the first question about performance appraisal with "I know what you are asking, but we don't do that." After further questioning, she made it clear that "we" referred to Scandinavians, not simply the library where she worked.

With this idea in mind, as impossible as it seemed to be, Evans added several questions that modified the original items. At the end of the three months of interviewing, it appeared that none of the Scandinavian libraries used a formal appraisal process. In discussing the issue with Rugaas, Evans and Rugaas decided to investigate the role of performance appraisals and work performance. Over the next six years they did this with the basic finding that performance appraisal, as we know it in the United States, does not exist in Scandinavian libraries. Another finding is that Scandinavians think it strange that we do this "thing," just as Americans find it incredible that Scandinavians don't.

As a result of these experiences, whenever Evans is asked to speak to a group of American librarians about a management topic of his choosing, he selects performance appraisal. He has two purposes in selecting this topic: (a) to let people know about alternatives to conducting formal appraisals and it is not inevitable; and, (b) to collect some data about librarian's attitudes about the process. Since 1975, he has discussed the subject at nine different meetings with 407 persons. At each meeting, each person is asked to answer 5 questions:

  1. Is formal performance appraisal necessary for good supervision?
  2. Do you feel confident and "comfortable" in conducting a performance appraisal?
  3. Do you think the system provides a factual assessment of the employee's performance?
  4. Do you think the process has a positive influence on the employee's job performance?
  5. Do you think the process can help improve or correct an employee's job performance?
Percentage YES NO
Question 1 90.6 9.4
Question 2 16.7 83.3
Question 3 47.1 52.9
Question 4 13.0 87.0
Question 5 2.7 97.3

It appears that this group of 407 persons, although predominantly feeling that performance appraisal is important, seems to have little or no confidence in the ultimate value of the process. Certainly the fact that less than 3% felt that the process can help improve or correct an employee's job performance indicates doubts about how well the process achieves the behavioral goals, That, combined with the low affirmative response (13%) to the question about positive influence may be why only 16.7% of the people said they felt confident in conducting appraisals.

As noted, one cannot make too much out of these data since the samples were self-selected- the survey was done as an aside to a presentation/discussion at regional meetings of special interest groups or staff meetings, and the process was not designed as a structured research project. These data seem to reveal: librarians may have very deep concern about the value of performance appraisal, they were surprised to learn that libraries in some countries achieve very high performance from staff members without engaging in performance appraisals, and, perhaps having two goals for performance appraisal may be one too many. Several other writers,15,16 on this subject have suggested that one goal for the process would be a more realistic approach. However, no one seems to question the need for such a system, yet it may not be necessary-if the Scandinavian pattern is a model of what happens without such appraisals.

The data collected in the above informal manner are not that far removed from those reported by Van Zelst and Kerr. They are close enough, given the differences in the approach to collecting the data to warrant a formal study of the attitudes of librarians about the value of performance appraisal in terms of behavioral goals. There is an opportunity to conduct a cross-cultural study of attitudes of librarians (in this case, academic librarians) about performance appraisal in the United States and Scandinavia. (A study is being planned as a joint project by the University of Denver, Graduate School of Librarianship and Information Management and the Norwegian State Library School.)

Saul Gellerman made a suggestion about behavioral aspects of performance appraisal that seems especially sound in light of data collected in the informal survey.

Unless a 'weakness' is perceived by a consensus of observers to be easily correctable by relatively minor conscious effort, little is to be gained by pointing it out. The manager may vent displeasure, the subordinate may be mortified, and the weakness will probably persist. The wiser course is to say nothing, and either to tolerate the weakness or, if it seriously impairs job performance, redesign the job or transfer the employee. (Remember, we are considering persons whose overall performance is satisfactory and for whom our primary goal is development.)17

To some degree, this may be what is done in Scandinavian libraries, although this is yet to be determined. It is not an accepted common practice in United States libraries, where formal appraisal systems existed. Based on the information collected, our guess is that it is a common practice of supervisors, but because the practice is not "accepted" or given formal approval by top management they feel somewhat guilty about not pointing out weaknesses. In part, the practice, if it is common, arises because of the potential for conflict between supervisor and employee, thus making it easier to "tolerate small weaknesses. "

According to David Peele,18 the British have still another approach to performance appraisal. Drawing on E.V. Corbett's19 work and his own experience in both countries, he shows what the differences are, and suggests that Americans use some elements of the British system that would result in a less formalized system. The British system appears to be halfway between the highly structured American system and the very informal Scandinavian approach. Although Peele does not directly question the need for an appraisal, he does show that variations exist, and each seems to work equally well. Or, perhaps it is more accurate to say that no clear evidence exists that any system helps improve staff performance.

No matter what the goal(s) may be for the process, staff members need a clear explanation of what those goals are and how to accomplish them. Anyone with experience in examining a large number of performance evaluation forms is struck by the fact that the vast majority of the staff are rated "average" or above average-a rather interesting phenomenon (where is the lower half of the statistical curve?). Some academic libraries state in their personnel policies that a person must be excellent to be hired and outstanding to move up to the next rank; later advancements in rank require the person to be rated as superior, exceptional, and distinguished.20 With such a system, is it a wonder that few people ever get rated less than excellent, or that people begin to doubt the value of such an appraisal system as a true assessment of ability or a means of promoting greater productivity? All too often, only the administrative goal is achieved because the staff sees this as the sole purpose of the process and really have no training in using the system to achieve the behavioral goals such as improvement of an individual's performance or for growth and development.

In summary, a review of the literature and the informal data collection indicates that a formal performance appraisal is considered essential for good management in the United States-essential because it provides a means of control over employee job performance and, thus, over individual and organizational productivity (behavior goals). It also carries with it what many managers and supervisors believe to be a powerful sanction for failing to achieve a satisfactory performance and level of productivity (administrative goals). That sanction is the granting or withholding of economic rewards, opportunities for advancement and promotion, and in the case of totally unsatisfactory performance, dismissal from the organization. What is assumed is there is a direct relationship between conducting performance appraisals and maintaining or improving 'an 'individual's contribution to the organization (productivity). One does not find in the literature any articles that supply evidence that the assumption is valid. Nor does one find, other than indirectly, any questioning of the need for such a system. Yet, as we have seen, at least one working alternative exists to the highly structured American system in Scandinavia and possibly a less structured approach in use in Great Britain.

Thus there is a need for extensive research in this area. This article is filled with "it seems," "it appears," "perhaps," which reflects the current lack of evidence about the following areas: (a) the effectiveness of performance appraisal practices; (b) influence of performance appraisal on work relationship (superior/subordinate and peer); (c) relationship between performance appraisal and productivity; and, (d) the cost benefit of conducting performance appraisals. Each of the areas could be further subdivided into a number of smaller more manageable research topics. We hope a number of persons will begin to investigate these areas in general and specifically in terms of libraries. As noted before, the Graduate School of Librarianship and Information Management at the University of Denver, and the Norwegian Library School hope to secure funding to examine one very small portion of this highly complex subject.


1. M. Johnson. "Performance Appraisal of Librarians-A Survey." College and Research Libraries 33(September 1972):359-67.

2. R.G. Johnson. Appraisal Interview Guide (New York: AMACOM, 1979).

3. J. Budde. Measuring Performance in Human Services Systems (New York: AMACOM, 1980).

4. College Libraries Section (Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association), Performance Appraisal - #1-80. CUP Notes: College Library Information Packets (Chicago: ALA, 1980).

5. Association of Research Libraries Office of Management Studies, SPEC Kit #53 - Performance Appraisal in ARL Libraries (Washington, DC: ARL, 1979).

6. E. Chapman. Supervisors' Survival Kit: A Mid-Management Primer. 2nd ed. (Palo Alto, CA: Science Research Associates, 1975) p. 94.

7. R.D. Steuart and J.T. Eastlick. Library Management, 2nd ed. (Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1980), p. 97.

8. K. Stebbins and F. Mohrhardt. Personnel Administration in Libraries. (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1966), p. 121.

9. J. Rizzo. Management for Librarians: Fundamentals and Issues (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 228.

10. Georgetown University Public Services Laboratory, Do Productivity Measures Pay Off for Employee Performance? (Washington, DC: Public Services Laboratory, 1975), p. 46.

11. R.H. Van Zelst and W.A. Kerr. "Working Attitudes toward Merit Rating." Personnel Psychology 6(October 1953):159-72.

12. N.P. Lovrich, P.I. Shaffer, R.H. Hopkins and D.A. Yale. "Do Public Servants Welcome or Fear Merit Evaluation of Their Performance?- Public Administration Review XX (May-June 1980): 214-22.

13. Ibid., p. 216.

14. Ibid., p. 217.

15. S. Gellerman. The Management of Human Resources (New York: Holt Rinehart, 1976).

16, D. McGregor. "An Uneasy Look at Performance Appraisal," Harvard Business Review 35(May-June 1957):89-94.

17. Gellerman, Management of Human Resources, p. 173,

18. D. Peele. "Evaluating Library Employees," Library Journal 97 (Sept. 15, 1972):2803-2807.

19. E. Corbett. "Staffing of Large Municipal Libraries in England and the United States: A Comparative Survey," Journal of Librarianship 3 (April 1971):81 - 100.

20. University of California. Los Angeles. Promotion in the Librarian Series. Los Angeles, University Research Library, 1979.

5.9 Technical and junior staff

Library technicians in Australia: past, present and future
Training library assistants in Mauritius

Library technicians in Australia: past, present and future

Helen Smeaton
Footscray College of Technical and Further Education

Received February 1983

Abstract The history of library technicians in the workforce in Australia is described. Some of the problems confronting technicians and their employers now, and in the future, are outlined. Library technicians should be seen as equals in the workforce but it is necessary to better define what technicians do and what librarians do. Industrial conflict in libraries is otherwise inevitable.

'The Library Technician has now entered the Australian library world and is consolidating his or her position.'1 The editorial of the Australian library journal in March 1975, from which this comment was taken, saw the emergence of the technician in the workforce as an indication of trends developing in librarianship. In considering the current and future situation of technicians in Australian libraries it is useful to summarise the history of the emergence of the paraprofessional as a recognised and accepted category of library worker.


Activities directed towards the setting up of a course to train library technicians originated with the Victorian Branch of the Library Association of Australia (LAA) in the late 1960's. These activities culminated in the establishment of the first course at the then Box Hill Girls' Technical School (now Whitehorse College of Technical and Further Education), in Victoria, with Wes Young as head of the course. The pilot course began with 'twenty full time, and thirty-seven part time students on 23 February 1970'.2 The success of this course is now history.

The subsequent development of similar courses in other states is documented in the professional literature. It is sufficient to say that in 1983 all states and the Australian Capital Territory have operational courses. With only one exception the courses are all conducted by Colleges of Technical and Further Education (Tafe). The involvement of Tafe in these programs has been supported by the LAA, officially because 'technical colleges have an established role in the training of technicians in all fields and a clear distinction should be made between these courses and those at professional level taught at universities and colleges of advanced education.'3

The intent of the courses and the nature of the training offered to students has also been documented in detail in the professional literature. The training was intended to produce paraprofessional staff who support professional librarians in the provision of information services. It was to be generalist, vocational, and terminal, rather than a preprofessional program. The introduction of these courses, then, was based on the assumption that a level in the staffing structures in libraries existed, or ought to be created, between the professional and clerical assistant levels. The LAA Task List for Library Technicians was a reflection of both the assumption and the training programs.

Early in the history of the establishment of courses throughout Australia there was concern on the part of employers and educators about variations in such aspects of the programs as entry requirements, work experience and course content. These regional differences made difficult reciprocal acceptance of qualifications between states, and reduced technician mobility. They were also an impediment to standardisation of salary scales and awards across the nation. Two national seminars were held, one in Melbourne in 1976 and the other in Sydney in 1979. These involved educators, employers and students. Out of these seminars the existing guidelines for courses and the LAA Task List evolved.

Accreditation of technician courses by the LAA Board of Education has been another vital factor in obtaining portability of qualifications between states, and the maintenance of common standards. The current status of accreditation for each course is listed in the LAA Handbook.


In 1983 library technicians constitute an established category of library worker. Accredited technician courses are operating across Australia. Entry levels and work experience requirements still vary considerably from state to state, though course content is very similar. The observations in Margery Ramsay's excellent paper on the 1976 seminar regarding standardisation of entry level and work experience still apply:

Standard of duration and entry level seemed out of the question. In any case, standardisation on this basis conflicts with the emphasis which Tafe and other educational authorities are now placing on flexibility. For these reasons course requirements were defined in the Guidelines in terms of exit level and performance, and 'an exit level at least equivalent to that of a final year exit level high school student' is specified4.

Technicians are more evident, across the various types of libraries, in some states than others, but the concept of the trained paraprofessional worker is recognised and accepted nationwide. What is arguably less well recognised and accepted is what a library technician should do and how he or she can best be employed. There is still great divergence of opinion among professional librarians about the division of labour between professional, paraprofessional and clerical staff. This is particularly evident in areas like reference work at one end of the spectrum and covering books at the other.

Factors such as the size and scope of a library, the clientele it server, and constraints of funding, all influence what the technician does in practice, as indeed they influence what the librarian does. Nonetheless, the young professional graduate is likely to have much more clearly defined ideas about his or her future role than the new technician graduate. One of the most difficult tasks for the technician educator is to satisfactorily define the respective roles of professional and paraprofessional in 'grey' areas like reference work.

There are also difficulties for technician educators in deciding on levels of complexity taught in areas like classification and cataloguing. One sure method of stimulating a flagging conversation between librarians is the introduction of this topic. You can be certain of any number of passionate responses. This is more than a personal grievance from a teacher. The divergence of opinion is a reflection of the lack of a sharp definition of professional and paraprofessional areas of responsibility in work. It is a problem fraught with difficulty. There are all sorts of conflicting interests involved, but it is a problem that needs to be solved in the interests of efficient and economic library service.

The author would argue, perhaps wrongly, that the problem of definition of appropriate areas of work reflects confusion about the role of the librarian. Bourne, Hill and Mitcheson observe:

In recent years there have been significant changes in the role of professional librarians in the workplace. This development is not solely due to the greater sophistication of library and information services but also the increasing utilisation of paraprofessional library technicians. As in the case of technological change, this has freed professional librarians from many of the unskilled duties associated with library operations, to allow them to concentrate on the more professional aspects of librarianship5.

In a profession which is relatively new, and subject to such rapid change as librarianship, the skills which are required of the professional need to be constantly reviewed and updated, both in general and in specific areas of information work.

A problem which is everpresent is that of the place of the technician in the staffing structure of libraries. Flowers referred to this as long ago as 1978. He said then:

In a paper given 16 years ago, 'Objectives of training for library service', I harped on the same theme:

'The library tasks must be sorted out, rearranged and staff trained to do them efficiently'.

'As there are variations in the level of service expected from librarians, there will be variations in the training required.'

'I have argued for a two-level staff, each with its own objectives of training for library service, each section with its own training systems. As the library service required of each will be different, the training system for each will be different' and so on.

Although there must have been considerable agreement with that we did not do anything about it, even though each succeeding year accentuated the need for a thorough overhaul of library staffing structures. The elimination of the LAA Registration Certificate and the emergence of library education in the colleges and universities clearly meant the disappearance of our middle staffing, standby professional librarians in training.

If, as I believe, it is true to say that librarians increasingly are concerned not so much with books as with the records of books, the introduction of the computer to library operation made massive staff restructuring not only inevitable but imminent6.

We currently have reached the objectives of different training systems for professional and paraprofessional workers, but in most instances the staffing restructures have not taken place. Library technicians have been grafted on to existing staffing structures, and this has led to the variations in their salary, levels and titles which exist presently across institutions in Australia. It also means that defined career paths in various types of libraries barely exist for technicians. This must have a detrimental effect, for many technicians, on motivation and identification with the employing institution.

It is a particularly difficult problem to address at a time when employment and promotion prospects for all library staff are shrinking. It is, nonetheless, a pressing problem since it is in just such a time of economic constraint that the best possible value needs to be obtained from staff, and the most economic use of skills employed. At present many technicians are underutilised, while some instances exist where they are employed in areas of work which, while they may not be beyond the capacities of individual technicians, are beyond what they are trained, as a group, to do. A recognised place in the staffing structure based on the recognition of differential training and skills, would go a long way to sorting out the current discrepancies in employment, salaries and promotion opportunities.


Bourne, Hill and Mitcheson comment in their report on the future possibility of competition between technicians and librarians for work if the current number of librarians graduating each year is maintained. If this oversupply continues, as quantitative evidence available at present seems to indicate, it is likely that professional librarians will begin to compete for paraprofessional positions. This will possibly lead to a deterioration in the employment prospects for paraprofessionals.7

This is one interpretation of the possible outcome of such competition, and the reverse is equally possible.

The implications of the Bourne, Hill and Mitcheson study for future employment in the profession have yet to be fully analysed and considered by librarians and library educators. It does, however, seem clear that technicians face the same constricting employment market as other categories of library workers, and employers and educators must plan for the future accordingly.

The Library Workforce National Conference, Melbourne 22-24 November 1982, highlighted the need to come to grips with the present problems mentioned, in order to ensure a reasonable future for employment in libraries. One of the recommendations of the Conference to the LAA was that a Library Workforce Committee be established which would, among other things, regularly monitor the supply of and demand for library technicians in Australia. This would seem to be a step in the right direction.

The problems of job classification and the need to reorganise staffing structures in order to ensure the appropriate employment of technicians was discussed. When the keynote speaker, Nick Moore, presented his masterly summation of the issues discussed, he made some points about technicians in the workforce which are worth considering as major issues for the future.

Library technicians should be seen as equals in the workforce. Their training equips them with skills which are as valid at the middle level of library work, as the skills of the professional librarians at their level. We need to better define what the technicians do and what the professional librarians do. We need to ensure that role differentiation is marked by pay differentials. Employers need to have a more flexible approach to organisational structures.

It is difficult to make predictions about the effect of technological change in libraries on the technician role. There are two conflicting schools of thought. One sees the upgrading of technician courses, and the movement of technicians into areas formerly occupied by librarians, as an economic inevitability. The other sees the gradual phasing out of the technician level of work as a consequence of technological innovation, and the eventual demise of the technician. It is difficult, without extensive research data, to make an educated guess one way or the other.

What is inevitable, however, is industrial conflict in libraries, unless the current problems mentioned, are solved. This would be detrimental, not only to working relationships between categories of staff, but also to the service libraries offer the community.


1 DATAR, C and SCOTT, P Editorial comment Australian library journal 24 (2) March 1975 p43

2 PIVEC, C Middle-level library education in Victoria Australian library journal 24 (2) March 1975 pp 48-53

3 FLOWERS, E The library technician in the workforce: the educational framework Australian library journal 28 (20) December 7, 1979, p372

4 RAMSAY, M Education of library technicians in Australia Australian library journal 24 (9) June 1978 pp 134-138

5 BOURNE, V; HILL, M and MITCHESON, B Library and information work: the employment market. Vol. 1 Sydney, Library Association of Australia 1982 p1

6 FLOWERS The library technician in the workforce p372

7 BOURNE, HILL and MITCHESON Library and information work p1

Helen Smeaton BA, ALAA, TSTC is Head of the Library Studies Department at Footcray College of Technical and Further Education. Before taking up this position she had worked in special libraries, a public library and a variety of school and college libraries. Her professional interests include children's literature, education for librarianship and the study of Australian literature. Address: 6 Wattle Grove HAWTHORN VIC 3122

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