Jason Frand and Bob Bellanti1
October 7, 1999 Working Copy
Submitted December 7, 1999 to Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship
Spanning over a decade since initial dialog and conceptualization began in 1985, the emergence of the integrated organization known today as ACIS -- Anderson Computing and Information Services -- is a significant achievement in the combination of human and technical resources. Considerable attention has been focused in recent years on the uncertain relationship between academic libraries and campus computing centers. This article chronicles and reports the numerous challenges in conceiving and constructing such a facility and instructional infrastructure. Central to the operational integrity and curricular flexibility of ACIS is an understanding of the human interaction and cooperation that was the basis for its creation and is its most important asset.
The idea of merging the UCLA Management Library with the management school's computer center was not a practical reality in the early 80s. The blending of two distinct organizational structures -- a library, one of the world's oldest, with a computer center, one of the newest -- was a difficult challenge. Significant differences in philosophy and perception of clients separated the departments. Not even the basics of a cooperative enterprise or understanding existed at the time, and there was no shared viewpoint or interest in developing one. There was no plan for combining the human resources of the two related, but quite different personnel structures.
This was the emotional and professional environment that preceded the series of events that framed our collaboration, and ultimately led to the integration of the computing services department of the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management and its information services component, the Management Library. The development of Anderson Computing and Information Services (ACIS) was long and challenging, and required determination and commitment by all. Its birth in January, 1998, was an important event in The Anderson School's history.
In June 1995, The Anderson School moved into new facilities, including the new information center housed in the Eugene and Maxine Rosenfeld Library Building. Almost ten years of planning and incremental activities went into creating the new information center for the Anderson School. Today, major changes in information technology, such as the ever-expanding quantity of digitized information, decreasing computing costs, increasing capacities and enhanced search technologies are rapidly occurring. This, coupled with advances in telecommunications, makes possible the convergence of libraries with computer centers. Both share common interests in providing information in electronic format, meeting users' needs for advice on database use and management, and coordinating programs and staff. It has become possible to create a library "without walls," one that is accessible from anywhere at anytime. However, achieving such objectives requires overcoming major institutional and individual barriers.
In a 1987 article in College Research & Libraries, Richard M. Dougherty, Director of Libraries at the University of Michigan stated, "Until recently, libraries and computing centers could operate virtually independently without fear of disturbing each other." He concluded, however, that the convergence of library and computing centers had begun to blur the boundaries between the units and in turn create inter-unit dependencies. The convergence of the activities of the two was an issue from which no sector of the campus community was exempt. Creating a coordinated campus network would require careful planning, hard choices, and a new set of underlying assumptions and policies governing the provision of information services. The greatest challenge to campus planners was to create circumstances in which all parties felt that they had benefited by gaining in status and career enhancement. What was needed was a set of incentives that could be strategically employed to create the necessary environment.2
A common concern of the time was whether libraries would be absorbed by computing centers, or whether computing centers might be absorbed by libraries. Raymond K. Neff in an EDUCOM Bulletin, Winter 1985 article, noted that on most campuses the library was the principal academic service organization with the computer center a distant second. He suggests, however, that trends in automating various segments of the university library had brought the two organizations closer, and at many institutions the librarian and the computer center director reported in parallel to the same position. He saw the similarities between the two organizations as apparent: the library is a repository of packaged information and the computer center stores and retrieves digital information; the library acquires and borrows packaged information and the computer center inputs and distributes digital information. In one form of service or another, storage, retrieval, input, and output of information are common to both. A major opportunity for the library would now be to provide a higher level, customized service which the computer center could perform.3
As early as 1974, Robert Plane, President of Clarkson College in New York, believed that the concept of an information support system must take into account the magnitude of the information that would be generated in the years ahead. An Industrial Advisory Council he formed with representatives from leading companies such as Bell Labs, the General Electric Research & Development Center, Corning Glass, Procter & Gamble and Xerox, met and discussed the philosophy of a college library for the future. From these first discussions, there emerged certain concepts which formed the basis of Clarkson's Educational Resources Center. From the start it was recognized that the Center should be viewed as the hub of a campus-wide system to provide integrated information support for the instructional, research, and administrative activities of the entire college. To put it in Plane's own words, they were not going to, " . . . build a library that would corral in one location books or any other form of stored information." The Clarkson developers were not interested in providing space for study materials brought in by the user. They had stopped thinking of the library as a place, and instead had begun to think of it as a service. Thus, they abandoned the word library in favor of the term educational resources, to imply that the new library concept would not only be different but truly designed to support the educational enterprise. It would, in fact, have an expanded role.4
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in November, 1985, Pat Molholt, then Associate Director of Libraries, commented in detail about the converging paths of computer centers and libraries in the Journal of Academic Librarianship. She observed that system designers faced two problems with which they were ill-equipped to deal: first, understanding the needs and habits of information seekers; second, understanding the nature of information itself. Librarians would need to provide the perspective necessary to ensure that the systems created were indeed usable and that they did what users wanted and needed.5
Molholt also expressed concern about challenges to the accepted roles of librarians. The transformation of the library from a collection of materials and related services to a diffused information support system implies significant change for librarians. Traditional roles often do not fit well in this new environment; the roles that evolve may not be linear descendants of the old. She believed that librarians must not only solve the technical problems associated with moving from traditional information handling to a total information support system, but must also confront the transition facing the library professional. Face-to-face interpersonal relationships must necessarily decline, and it would be difficult for the profession to evolve to meet the new challenges and still retain tradition and character.6
The roles of administrators are similarly impacted. Within universities, the library and computing center affect more people directly and more often than any other academic support or service units. Molholt advised that administrators must position themselves, through additional education, broader experience, and an assertive presence in planning, to assume the new roles of coordination and leadership. She foresaw a multiplicity of issues to be considered as universities moved toward the integrated information support systems of the future by combining the best from two existing systems -- libraries and computing.7
However, most experiments at integration were less than successful. Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information offers a more current overview and perspective of the situation writing in the June, 1998 issue of Information Technology and Libraries:
However, collaborative projects do not necessarily proceed smoothly on campuses, and many higher education institutions have not even attempted such relationships. Although there is little in the literature that documents the problems in collaborative relationships between librarians and information technologists, three articles do shed light on several of the issues. Branin, D'Elia, and Lund wrote candidly of their project to develop a joint service unit combining library and computing services, and stated, 'Conflicts and competition over access to end users and jurisdictional and resource allocation disputes were as much a part of the experience as were cooperation and collaboration.' Schiller surveyed librarians and information technologists about their efforts in Internet training, and reports that librarians were concerned about being 'made obsolete' by the computing center, and computing professionals felt they were being 'encroached upon' by librarians. Davidson and Rusk reported on the collaborative development of a university Web environment, and found early in the process that differences in underlying values and styles of librarians and information technologists created difficulties in reaching consensus on how the project would proceed.
Lippincott notes further that in a collaborative relationship, both partners have mutual goals for the project, and each party brings skills and resources to the endeavor. However, many institutional teams embarking on collaborative projects have little understanding of what it takes to forge a successful collaboration, and team members bring different conceptualizations of the project, divergent views of necessary resources and diverse learning and operational styles. On the other hand, other collaborative projects have been successfully developed by teams of librarians and information technologists at a number of institutions such as the Information Arcade at University of Iowa, and the development of campus information policies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Collaborative projects there and at other campuses across the country have involved the development of facilities, creation of policies, implementation of networked information resources, and teaching and learning.8
UCLA Experience -- The Planning Years, 1982 - 1995
What does it mean to be one of the first organizations in the world to do something? Specifically, when The Anderson School at UCLA moved into its new complex in June 1995, it became the first ever to have both a 100% student laptop ownership requirement and a 100% networked educational environment, i.e., every seat in every classroom and the library has a network connection. To create such an environment required years of planning, the ability to manage change along many fronts, and the challenge of "inventing" the future as we went along.
This is as much a story of collaboration between colleagues and the resulting process as it is of planned organizational construction. The chronology of the process began with the appointment of Frand as Director of Computing Services in 1980, and Bellanti as head of the Management Library in 1982.9 Frand's principle goal in 1980 was to bring the Graduate School of Management (GSM), as it was then called, into the interactive time-sharing computing age. This objective was considerably advanced in 1982 when the School obtained its own HP3000/44 mini-computer.10 One of the first applications installed on the system was SCIMP (Scandinavian Index to Management Periodicals), making an annotated bibliographic database available on-line. This created the initial opportunity to bring our individual departments together for a shared purpose: Computing Services ran the system and the Management Library provided training on the use of the database.
A year later, the Management School introduced its first microcomputers and set up a lab of HP125 systems running Word Star and VisiCalc.11 Once again, an opportunity for Computing Services and Management Library to cooperate was seized; the former managed the systems, and the latter the logistics for floppy discs and documentation distribution (a major issue back in those days).
While the library literature and conferences of the late 70's and early 80's occasionally addressed library and computer organization interactions, there was essentially no discussion on the computer side. A major turning point for Frand occurred in 1985 while he served as the chair of an external computer review committee for a sister UC institution. At this campus, the library and its information support group was well organized and service oriented, and willing to broaden its role to also provide the computing services which the campus community sought. Not only did this library manage the physical information inventory, it was ready to support access to the digital information and associated computational power. Frand returned to the UCLA campus and met with Bellanti to begin discussing collaboration in earnest.
In the mid-1980s, the automation revolution that swept across academic libraries affected the Management Library in significant ways. UCLA's ORION on-line system replaced the card catalog, and soon after CD-ROM databases began to appear. While the central UCLA Library provided support for ORION, it was up to the individual libraries12 to introduce and maintain specialized local on-line materials either by CD-ROM or direct on-line connections for end-users to large databases, such as Dow Jones and Nexis. These latter applications provided new opportunities for Computing Services and Management Library staff to collaborate as well as for the library staff to acquire broad based computer skills to support their work.
In 1987, the building of a new management complex was announced when UCLA alumnus John E. Anderson provided the seed funding. It was immediately clear that this was a rare opportunity to develop a state-of-the-art academic environment. However, a major question was, "What are the computer, communication, and information needs of students, faculty, and staff?" Furthermore, how should the general infrastructure, and the library in particular, be designed to encourage collaboration across Computing Services and Management Library staff?
In 1988, we received a Council on Library Resources grant to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the information needs of the School's faculty and students. A multi-disciplinary team composed of Bellanti, Frand, Bill Fisher from The Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and Beth Riddle from the UCLA's central Office of Academic Computing was assembled to conduct the research. The study involved in-depth interviews with about one-third of the tenured faculty, focus groups which encouraged open-ended discussion of key issues, and a general survey. In addition, all MBA and Ph.D. students were surveyed to determine their information priorities for course work and research. Through this project we came to understand the expectations of our faculty and students, namely, that:
* Access to information technology is a "right" not a "privilege"
* Data and information are to be available in electronic formats
* A networked technological infrastructure is to be provided
* Effective software tools for solving business problems are to be available
* Training and consulting is to be provided
Based on the study's findings we formulated our plans for the new building.13 Of equal importance, the process of the investigation enabled us to create a conceptual blueprint for the evolving computer and library information service organization.
In 1991, we brought our staffs together for the first time for direct discussions to explore further enhancing the library and computing collaborative efforts. Four key people from each organization participated. The atmosphere of the meeting was chilling. Although the rectangular table at which we all sat physically separated the groups by a mere three feet, the emotional and psychological gap that separated us was like the Grand Canyon. All of the issues and concerns previously described by Molholt and Lippincott were abundantly present. It was clear that significant work needed to be done to identify common purpose and build trust between the two organizations.
In 1992, the UCLA Library system was undertaking a series of strategic planning workshops, and the Management Library staff held such a session facilitated by a professional group leader. Computing Services retained the facilitator -- Ms. Karen Savlov, Coordinator of Organizational Service, from UCLA's Campus Human Resources department -- and had a similar half-day session. The facilitator then brought both organizations together to share what had occurred with each group separately. Through this exercise it became clear that we had many points in common: our clients (whom libraries have traditionally termed patrons and computer people called users); our goals (to provide support services); our frustrations (such as the lack of control over events and the chronic lack of adequate funding), and the tremendous breadth of knowledge and diversity of responsibility of our staffs (after all, everyone who works in the library doesn't put books on shelves and everyone who works in the computer center doesn't write programs).
Even with the advantage of this shared experience, nothing really changed within the two organizations. During this period we were very careful to speak about our two organizations sharing a common facility in the new complex, and perhaps even the convergence of tasks and responsibilities, but definitely nothing like a merger was broached. Alignments and collaborations might be acceptable, but not integration.
In July 1994, one year before the move, we held our first joint all day, off-site retreat for the entire Computing Service and Management Library staffs. The same professional facilitator presided. Despite all the effort at team building, cross discussion and sharing, the day ended with the Computing Services assistant director asking, "Why are we bothering with this stuff? Let us do our jobs and let them do theirs." Unfortunately, this attitude was not unique to this individual.
In the building planning process, we had many difficult discussions with the faculty members on the planning committee and with the architects. Convincing them that the two information service organizations needed fully integrated office and work space was no small task. Their concept was to take the existing model from the old building of separate groups with separate spaces and just physically locate them together in the same building, but with each keeping its own identity, physical access, and space. Although we got much of what we wanted, there were other areas where our needs and expectations went unfulfilled. The eventual compromise resulted in a "director's suite" with two equal offices co-located on the main floor (third floor) of the Rosenfeld Library. Library circulation service personnel were located near the loan desk on this same floor. The reference librarians and computer user services consultants were co-located in one large staff area on the second floor. A large work room for library technical services was also located in this area. The computer network group was located on the first floor, next to the central network hub room with all of its equipment.14 While highly attractive, certain aspects of the final architectural configuration can only be described as dysfunctional and inconsistent with our plans as originally envisioned.
The Convergence Years, 1995-1998:15
During a one week period in June 1995, three hundred Anderson School faculty and staff, along with all their computers, books, files, and personal affects, moved across campus to a new seven building complex.16 Computing Services was responsible for un-installing, and then connecting, training, and fully supporting all of these users (as well as 1200 students, about half with laptops) in this new, fully-networked environment. The Management Library relocated its inventory of over 150,000 volumes, 2800 journals, 480,000 microfilm or microfiche items, and 5000 working papers, and was expected to open for business within days of the move. Even though both Computing Services and the Management Library were now housed together in the new Rosenfeld Library Building, the demands on each organization that first year were so intense in different ways, and for very different reasons, that it was premature to try working as a cooperative entity. However, with the director's offices now in the same suite, we saw each other daily and continued to share ideas.
Even with the move and shared quarters we chose to retain the existing organizational structures. The Management Library had about 15 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff allocated across three major areas: Technical Services providing support for acquiring and processing materials in all formats; Circulation Services providing management of the physical inventory; and Reference & Instructional Services providing access support to the information resources including collection development. Computing Services had about 25 FTE organized into three major areas: Technical Services maintaining the network and various workstations and servers; User Services providing helpdesk, training, and consulting, and Software Development, writing programs to support the administration of the School as well as Web support.
In May, 1996, Bellanti made significant changes in the organizational structure of the Management Library that proved fortuitous in expediting the later development of ACIS. The move to the Rosenfeld Library within the new Anderson Management Complex had vastly changed the operating environment. The previous library organization had become outmoded for a number of reasons. The new facility was almost double the size of the former one. Space was now shared with Anderson Computing Services (ACS) which included student labs and staff areas, which in turn necessitated common usage policies and operating procedures. Supplementary funding was now coming from the Anderson School to support staffing, extended library hours, and procurement of new electronic data resources. There were heightened security concerns as well, due to the complexity of the facility's layout and the large amount of equipment maintained within the Rosenfeld Library for both the Management Library and ACS. It was now necessary to maintain two public entrances to the facility -- one on the main floor by the Library Loan Desk, and the other by the computing lab area on the second floor. The organizational solution was to combine Technical Services and Circulation Services into a new single unit called Access Services. Thus, Access Services consisted of all non-librarian provided services related to acquiring materials for access by library users, the actual use of such materials via circulation, reserves or document delivery, and physical access to the Rosenfeld Library building.
In December, 1996, a key staff member on the computing side resigned, providing the opportunity to rethink our organizational structure, and how we could be organized to best deliver information services. Frand approached Bellanti seeking ways to further our collaborative goals. We challenged ourselves to think more broadly and to take actions to best meet the information requirements of our mutual user community. In January 1997, we initiated co-organizational team projects. The computer staff responsible for training were teamed with the reference librarians to plan and present several new training workshops. The network group was assigned responsibility to bring the Library's CD-ROM databases on-line for access from any network location. A Qualify of Work Life committee was formed with three staff members from each organization to address joint issues and concerns which had arisen from the co-location in the same facility. All these efforts were geared toward having the staff work together on projects of mutual benefit. While we all shared space, there were major physical, mental, emotional and territorial issues to address. Also, at this time, Bellanti began to join the Computing Services' management meetings so that we could better identify opportunities for collaborative projects.
In June 1997, we decided to test our co-operative working model and consider how to re-align personnel so that some computer staff reported to the "library" side of the house. Accordingly, we formally created a Research and Instruction (R&I) group consisting of the reference librarians, computer training staff, the statistical research consultant, and the Webmaster -- all reporting directly to Bellanti.17 The rest of the organization was left alone. The e-mail notification sent by Frand to the entire staff read, "The creation of the R&I Group is critical to ensuring we don't lose the momentum and good will created over the past year with the move. The R&I Group is a new creation including Computing Services staff involved in curriculum and research support and the Management Library librarians. Bob Bellanti will have supervisory responsibility over this group, including the Computing Services staff who are part of R&I. This is a new organizational mode designed to respond to the critical issues facing us."
We held a day-long R&I staff retreat at the end of June 1997, again facilitated by Karen Savlov from central campus human resources. We were challenged to think about our new identity, create a mutual project list, and set objectives for the cooperative entity. Bellanti provided background on the history of collaborative efforts between Computing Services and the Management Library going back to 1984. The new building was the culmination of a great deal of planning designed specifically to bring the staff closer together. We were now at a point where we could look forward and plan for our organizations to operate in new ways. Bellanti also stressed that we did not envision that the people comprising the R&I Group would become interchangeable cogs. That definitely was not the intent. He clearly articulated that we all brought different skills and perspectives to the group, which what was needed now.
The tone of the meeting was very positive with all participants acknowledging that the new group seemed to make sense and included the right mix of people. An R&I mission statement was written that read, "To enable Anderson faculty and students to maximize the benefits of organized information resources and technologies for research and instruction." Eight areas of collaboration were identified including workshop development, creating a virtual help desk, and faculty outreach teams with one Computing Service & one Management Library person assigned to each. The day ended with a discussion of barriers to success (Table 1) and how they could be overcome.18
Table 1: Barriers that Preclude Effective Collaboration
§ Not having access to resources in a timely fashion
§ Not having access to shared servers
§ Not understanding completely what others do
§ Lack of adequate communication between this group and other groups
§ Lack of buy-in to the shared vision
§ Lack of funding sources for joint projects
§ Need to overcome "front of the house" vs. "back of the house" thinking
§ Not making the culture shift; culture shock
§ Differences in skill sets - goal is to learn from each other
§ Work rules affect us differently - we belong to different larger parent organizations
§ Not having clearly identified priorities and goals and gate keeping
§ Open nature of the office structure
§ Relatively small group for the audience we have
During 1996, the Anderson School was able to provide funding for an additional reference librarian position. With all the funding cuts implemented by the University of California over many years, the Management Library had an allocation of only three positions (counting Bellanti) funded by the UCLA Library system. We made the case that given our electronic infrastructure and all the emerging on-line information resources, we had the potential to provide virtual library services, but lacked the human resources to make this a reality. Our new librarian joined us for the first time at our R&I retreat in June 1997.
Fall 1997, saw six computing service staff (25% of the group) resign for a variety of reasons. This was a wake-up call for us to think about what was needed to retain valuable staff who are difficult to recruit and expensive to train. In the computer management meetings, the question of our missions continued to be raised. For years we had a clear vision with the new building. But now that we were here, what was the next mountain for us to climb? How did we fit in with the overall School mission and vision? The managers wanted to know how they contributed to the overall success of the larger organization. This was complicated by the fact that both Frand and Bellanti kept talking about library and computer joint projects.
Staff in both organizations were confused about roles and expectations. Were library assistants expected to fix computers? Were computer consultants expected to check out books? Accordingly, we turned again to Karen Savlov for advice. It was suggested that we, as an entire organization, undertake a year-long values clarification, goal-building project.19 We then made the decision to use the activity as a vehicle for increasing the communications between and within our organizations, not realizing that it would ultimately lead to the full integration of the two groups.
Beginning in December 1997, the facilitator conducted sessions with the managers to identify personal values. This activity was then repeated to identify our collective organizational values. Next, we began work on a mission and goals statement. After we had drafts of each of these prepared, parts of the process were repeated with the entire staff. First, we assigned individual staff members to selected groups so that we would have a good mixture of individuals across each unit as well as within units. Then the individual value clarification sessions were conducted. Next, a full-staff meeting with everyone was conducted at which time the organizational values, mission and goals were presented as a draft document for everyone to review in small groups with their managers. Finally, based on the feedback from all the groups the final documents were prepared (see Table 2).
Table 2: Anderson Computing and Information Services
ACIS is a values driven organization in which each individual is personally responsible for incorporating our core values into their day-to-day activities as they work toward achieving our mission.
Anderson School Mission: Creating intellectual capital and entrepreneurial leaders or the global information age.
ACIS Mission: To enable Anderson School faculty, students and staff to access, create, analyze, organize, and exchange information necessary to achieve research, educational, and administrative objectives through the delivery of quality, professional information support services.
Communications: Exchanging information effectively including mutually agreeable expectations.
Competence: Accomplishing our mission by understanding our clients' motivations and expectations with the awareness of available resources. Competence includes the ability to find answers, to solve problems, and to follow through with personal accountability.
Creativity: Taking the initiative to seek innovative solutions and forward-thinking ideas.
Personal Growth: Fostering creativity and facilitating the development of new job applicable skills and knowledge which benefits both the individual and our customers.
Teamwork: Harnessing our strengths to achieve our common goals by working together in an honest, trustworthy and fair manner.
In support of this mission, Anderson Computing and Information Services goals are:
§ To provide quality, responsive, and innovative direct user services, including (but not limited to) training, reference, help desk and consulting services; instructional and classroom technology support services; library and database management support services; and backup and program development services;
§ To maintain the computing, communication, and information infrastructure including (but not limited to) the network, hardware, software, books, journals, on-line and printed business databases, all of which support Anderson's information age culture.
Given that we live in a time of rapid technological change, Anderson Computing and Information Services proactively works to provide smooth transitions to our customers as new
systems are introduced. We understand that many of these changes create increasing, and sometimes unrealistic, expectations for technological solutions to management and
The Merger - 1998:
For several years now we lead discussions between library and computer staff regarding convergence, not merger. We had been emphatic about not coming together as a single unit, but rather looking for the opportunities to work together to the mutual benefit of ourselves and our customers. We were preserving the traditions and perspectives of each organization, remaining as separate as the overall university structures which provided their funding. But, by 1998, we were already co-mingling funds. The Anderson School had committed funding for library staff and additional databases which went beyond the existing university library budget allocations. There was shared work space, and library/computer staff teams were involved in curricular and research projects. Some computer staff were reporting to the library side of the house. Some library staff were being trained in Web administration and hardware installation techniques by the computer side. Library staff were opening and closing the computer labs as well as monitoring and stocking paper in the lab printers. It was clear that we had moved beyond two parallel organizations, and that our convergence was in fact leading to a single integrated unit.
During Spring 1998, we each spoke with our respective senior administrators regarding the next steps in our planning.20 With the support of both the campus university librarian and the dean of the school, we proceeded with finalizing the merger. We decided to hold a full-day, off-campus retreat at the end of August, again to be facilitated by Karen Savlov, at which time we would make the formal announcement. We spent that summer planning for the retreat.
We anticipated that our vision of functioning as a single organization would not come as a surprise to the staff. All the previous planning efforts, the value statement and goal exercises, the collaborative teams, and the creation of the R&I group clearly signaled our new direction. Everyone knew what was coming. But, the feedback (particularly from the Quality of Worklife Committee described earlier) indicated there was still uncertainty, and that we were engaged in an experiment which might end at any time. Some seemed to think that as long as it was just a test, why should they make any firm emotional commitments? Also, our facilitator recognized that we had never provided a formal forum for the staff to express their concerns and/or support for what we were doing. The retreat was designed to meet these concerns directly.
For the retreat the entire staff was divided into three discussion groups. To assure that a representative cross section of all the different viewpoints were present, we assigned individuals to groups so that each group was nearly homogeneous with respect to titles and responsibilities. Thus, each group had a reference librarian, a network administrator, a help-desk consultant, etc. To facilitate the group discussions, we asked for volunteers. These group leaders met with Ms. Savlov a week before the retreat for some training and orientation.
On August 26, 1998, our off-campus retreat was held and the formal integration of computing and library services was officially declared to the entire combined staff. The day opened with both Frand and Bellanti explaining that we were now one organization in name, and that our most immediate and urgent goal was to unite in purpose as many people as possible so that we could become one organization in spirit. We each took a turn explaining that a major issue for us (Frand and Bellanti) was that, "if either of us were to leave for any reason (retire, transfer, etc), we want to be sure that our successors cannot undo what all of us have accomplished together." We challenged all present to think of how we could blur the lines between our respective organizations so that no one could redraw them. We also announced that Bellanti would now add the title and responsibilities of assistant director to his current position.21
The entire morning was allocated to staff discussions of this challenge, their reactions to our position, and to identifying their issues, concerns and feelings about what we were doing. The afternoon was spent on a planning exercise. The single most important theme which emerged from that day was that, ". . .no one is losing his job; we're not trying to create interchangeable cogs in the wheel, each and every role is needed for ACIS to be successful." With only a couple of exceptions, the staff overwhelmingly embraced our direction.
A key concern was how values that we had discussed for so long would now be reflected in our daily work. It was agreed that the value statements should be re-written in terms of the job performance SKAs (Skills, Knowledge, Abilities) that are a specified part of the university job descriptions. During the subsequent year we reviewed all the job descriptions incorporating the ideas as appropriate.
For the afternoon planning session, the workgroups were assigned the hypothetical scenario: "Assume that two years from now (August 2000), the dean gives your group an award for outstanding accomplishment. What would that accomplishment be?" Two of the groups returned with nearly identical responses, while the third provided a plan along a very similar trajectory. As an organization, ACIS clearly needed to focus on providing greater personal knowledge and management skills, and support for our faculty and students. This action objective was then adopted as a major shared goal.
An interesting question arose as to what to call our new organization. The immediate, and most obvious choice was "Anderson Information Services," or AIS. However, the central campus Administrative Information Services is called AIS and we were concerned that the two would be confused with each other. (We rejected AIR --Anderson Information Resources -- for fear of the adjective "hot" being associated with it.) Some actually liked the term since, like air, we were needed for survival. After much discussion we settled on Anderson Computing and Information Services, or ACIS.
ACIS - 1999 And Beyond:
But significant differences still existed in the way each group viewed faculty, students, and staff. For example, traditionally libraries, including The Anderson School's Management Library, have provided services at no cost, and generally speaking the broader campus and off-campus communities can avail themselves of the same resources as the Anderson community. However, since 1988, Anderson School students have been charged a substantial computing fee to have a systems account and for receiving support services. They are paying customers, with all the expectations and demands that go with that status.
To meet this challenge we brought together a "student services" team that consists of the heads of access services, student laptop support, and training. The team is able to address the needs of our student customers from a single perspective. An analogous "faculty services" team consisting of our statistical research consultant and reference librarians is available. When faculty have questions these teams offer comprehensive support. For instructional support, while there are many separate activities and tasks, some came about only because of the joint management and goals of the staff. For example, in support of our living case study22 in which all first year students participate, actual databases used by the sponsoring company are made available to the students. These databases need mounting and testing, access procedure need to be prepared, and the students require training and consulting in their use.
We view the results of our integration from both an internal (e.g. budget, staff) and external perspective (e.g. services to users). We can now offer our users a set of services which we did not previously provide, and these have been enhanced by the integration. For example, our Anderson Edge Personal Knowledge Management workshop series introduces strategies to our students that enable them to maximize the response from our fully-networked educational environment (see Table 3 for current topics covered). This has been an evolving, mutually developed and taught series in which both library and computing orientations play critical roles.
Table 3: The Anderson Edge Workshops
1: Personal Knowledge Management
Searching/Finding Advanced Web searching techniques
Categorizing/Classifying File structures
Naming things/ Making distinctions Conventions
Integrating/Relating Demo of implementation
2: Web as PKM Tool
Personal Publishing Personal Web Pages
Collaboration Team Pages
Internally, the integration has enabled us to have greater overall budget flexibility, to provide cross-training opportunities, and to enrich the participation of all staff. Funding continues to come primarily from traditional sources (library funds from the University Library system and computing funds from the dean), but with our combined budget we are able to re-allocate internally to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
A critical part of the Anderson program is the laptop initiative.23 During the fall orientation, ACIS staff provide training to the 525 entering students. For the full-time program, the 325 new students are trained during a one week orientation period. To minimized class size we divide them into 10 groups. This puts considerable pressure on the teaching staff, so we require every ACIS staff member (all 40 FTE) to participate in some meaningful way. This demands raising the skills and knowledge of everyone in the organization so that they are comfortable in this capacity. It also raises the personal prestige of the library and computer staff with our customers.
In planning the August 1998 retreat, we had brought together staff from the various areas within the two organizations. Since we wished to create a single new organization, it made sense to conceptualize our purpose from a different perspective. Accordingly, a new conceptual structure emerged which we are using to guide our planning. Specifically, ACIS consists of three interdependent activity centers, each interacting with our user community: Information Access, Virtual Infrastructure, and Physical Infrastructure.
Information Access includes training and consulting support for all available information resources including books, journals, and databases; support for application, communications and collaboration tools for research and instructional support; and the development of book, journal, and online databases collections.
Virtual Infrastructure includes support for AndersoNet, the Internet, and all associated servers and devices, as well as Anderson School-wide connectivity and mobile information access. AndersoNet consists of over 3000 network nodes with an ATM backbone, over 15 servers and 150 gigabytes of on-line storage. There are 35 databases (CD-ROM and networked) accessible at any time from any location.
Physical Infrastructure includes managing the Rosenfeld Library physical inventory of over books, journals, microfilm or microfiche items, and working papers; providing maintenance and support for over all Anderson School desktop and student laptop systems, as well as maintenance and oversight of the Rosenfeld reading rooms, computer labs, study areas, and staff workspaces.
Given that we have created a new conceptual organization, we can speculate on the issues involved in transitioning the staff from the current to the new structure. Specifically, the question becomes, "Who works where?" It is not always clear. When the new structure was presented to the entire staff, we asked if everyone saw themselves in at least one place. The response was affirmative, with many seeing themselves in at least two areas, while others saw themselves functioning in all three major support areas. To begin we made some macro level assignments: the Physical Infrastructure group would consist of the current library access and computer help-desk services staff, while the Virtual Infrastructure would be the current network group. The Information Access would consist of the R&I and the Application Software Development groups.
A long term possibility is to completely reshape the organization so that formal reporting lines are defined by this new conceptual structure. The current perception is that the mix of staff and projects is so broad within each area that someone at the director level is required to manage it. This person has the breadth of responsibility to make reasonable decisions regarding resource allocations. For example, our Physical Infrastructure area has job classifications of library assistants (including student assistants to senior managers) as well as programmer analysts (also with student trainees to senior technical specialists).
The Information Access area has librarian classifications (part of the university librarian series with research and community services requirements for career status and promotion) as well as senior programmer analysts without those requirements. While currently the Virtual Infrastructure group is the only one with all programmer analysts, conceptually it has to be much broader, otherwise it would be an outsourceable service which the central campus network group could provide. This group must also have librarians as part of its makeup to provide synergistic support to the other groups. We believe that over time these issues will be further clarified and we will find the appropriate mechanism to progress organizationally.
The most recent move in advancing our continuing integration occurred with the beginning of the 1999-2000 academic year. We realized that having one person with central responsibility for all ACIS operational programs was more productive than splitting that function between two people. Accordingly, as of July 1, 1999, Bob Bellanti formally assumed the role of Associate Director of ACIS with all operational and internal organizational duties. (Bellanti receives an additional stipend for his expanded role.)
The Anderson School Dean announced Bellanti's appointment at a special staff meeting to emphasize his full support and that of other senior administration for our vision and plan for the future of ACIS. During the coming year, some of Bellanti's daily tasks will be reassigned to permit him to optimize his productivity in critical new areas.
We live in an age when the amount of information, both in print and on-line, is expanding exponentially. Hundreds of new, specialized journals and books are being published monthly, and thousands of new Web sites are added to the Internet daily. To deal with this information-saturated environment, innovative and useful information management tools are required. A major challenge to knowledge workers is locating, creating, evaluating, classifying, storing, retrieving, and integrating information. This information is textual, graphical, numerical, and audio-visual based, and is stored on paper and electronic media as well as in our minds. We believe that the combined knowledge, skills, and experience found in the two worlds of libraries and computing are essential for enabling knowledge workers to meet this challenge.
There is a major challenge ahead, which Stuart Brand expresses as, ". . . managing continuity in the face of increasingly rapid technological change."24 From our perspective, this is the role of our integrated organization. We did not lose a library, but instead have enhanced what traditional libraries have to offer. We did not lose the computer center, but are extending its reach to support many more facets of our lives. Librarians need to continue to be concerned about collection development, preservation, and the freedom to access information. For if they don't do it, who will? And network administrators must continue to be concerned about bandwidth, access devices, and protection of our privacy when so much personal information is being stored on-line. Likewise, if they don't do it, who will?
ACIS has taken the initial steps in creating an academic support environment that closely matches this set of expectations. In the process, the computer has gone from being something esoteric to being a useful integrated information tool. Similarly, the library has transitioned from being just a physical place to being a broad information environment simultaneously available in our offices, our classrooms, our homes and virtually any place from which there is electronic access.
We believe that our success in creating an integrated information support organization can be attributed to a single major factor: a willingness on both our parts to think much more broadly than simply "books" or "computers," and to focus on the information needs of the end-users of the services that our organizations provide. Our vision encompasses the comprehensive view of information resources -- stretching well beyond the physical inventories of books, journals, hardware and software, to the value they all bring: the information content. Our computer, communication, and information environments are there to help individuals achieve their goals, to solve their problems, and to use the information and support resources of our time.
But, we must also ask ourselves, "What lessons have we learned?" From discussions with colleagues in library and computer services at other universities, we are aware that our success at UCLA is, if not unique, certainly not the norm. Others have attempted such complicated departmental mergers and met with similar difficulties and confronted similar obstacles, but with less encouraging results. Two notable attempts have been the business schools at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Stanford University. Recognizing the importance of learning from the experience of others we have made every effort to keep abreast of their activities. Over the years we have met with our counterparts from these, and other schools, to discuss ideas, options, approaches, successes and failures. An important lesson was to keep our eyes and ears open and appreciated the experiences of others, while at the same time realizing the nature of our own project.
Another critical success factor is the ability to keep the long-term goal clearly in mind while recognizing its dynamic, flexible, even elusive nature. Things changed so often and in such degree, that it was no small task to remain trusting and viable as we worked together. The unexpected happened so regularly that we came to expect it! Only a truly clarified long-range view and shared set of objectives would survive the day-to-day challenges of the journey.
We also learned the value of maximizing the power of opportunities -- both large and small -- that came our way. From checking out floppy disks to working together to provide input on the new graduate business school, from creating join work teams for our users to joint committees for solving our own problems, we created or took advantage of opportunities to have our staff work together. We recognize that the new complex was remarkably fortuitous, a once-in-a-lifetime situation. And certainly our actions and outcomes were guided indisputably by its fruition. But we know now that we would have been just as stimulated and success-oriented if indeed there had never been a new complex. The entity we now call ACIS was a result of our determination to find and then build upon joint efforts to meet our users information needs.
Having at least the passive support of senior administrators is another critical success factor. We were fortunate to have the encouragement and explicit support of the university librarian. The management school deans also realized the importance of the library and provided additional funding to meet its needs, and were sufficiently confident to support the combination of staff and resources as we moved toward merger. Fortunately at no time did we encounter direct opposition to our planning efforts. On the flip side, it is absolutely essential to have a supportive staff organization which is willing to give the convergence (perhaps leading to a merger) a chance to work. It is important to take the time, meaning months and even years, to help the staff understand our goals, the benefits to them, and the value of working together as one organization. Most important, the staff need to be reassured that their jobs are not at risk and that unique skills and perspectives will continue to be required.
Having someone outside our groups, without the emotional or operational concerns, to assist us work together was extremely important to our success. We were fortunate to have a professional facilitator available through the central campus human resource group who was able to work with both our organizations over a number of years to deal with the staff and organizational issues. Her insights and experience were extremely valuable in helping us to understand and work toward achieving our vision.
Certainly our experience could never be duplicated exactly as it happened
to us. However, what we believe is reassuring to those contemplating such
a challenge is the understanding that it can indeed be done. We feel very
privileged to participate in traveling this path.
1. Jason Frand is Assistant Dean of the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management and Director of Anderson Computing and Information Services. Bob Bellanti is Associate Director of Anderson Computing and Information Services and Head Librarian of the School's Rosenfeld Management Library. We wish to thank Roy Belosic for his assistance in the preparation of this article.
2. Richard M. Dougherty, "Libraries and Computing Centers: A Blueprint for Collaboration," College & Research Libraries, July 1987: 289-296.
3. Raymond K. Neff, "Merging Libraries and Computer Centers: Manifest Destiny or Manifestly Deranged?", EDUCOM Bulletin 20: Winter 1985: 8-11, 16.
4. Robert A. Plane, Symposium speech at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut entitled "Knowledge in an Information Era," Perspectives In Computing, Vol.2, No. 3, October 1982: 14-21.
5. Pat Moholt, "On Converging Paths: The Computing Center and the Library," The Journal of Academic Librarianship 11, November 1985: 287.
6. Ibid: 287-288.
7. Ibid: 288.
8. Joan Lippincott, "Working Together: Building Collaboration between Librarians and Information Technologists," Information Technologies, June 1998: 83-84.
9. Organizationally, Frand reported to the dean of the management school while Bellanti reported to the University librarian; however, the Management Library was physically located within the GSM facility.
10. This was the result of a generous equipment grant from the Hewlett Packard Company.
11. This was equipment purchased by the UCLA Extension Division and then housed at GSM in exchange for student use during day-time hours; Extension had the evening hours.
12. The Management Library is one of 15 academic libraries on the UCLA campus.
13. The survey results of the investigation were prepared as a working paper, Information Systems Works Paper 91-x.
14. For a virtual tour, visit http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/resources/library/vtour/
15. Many of the events listed here appear to be linear and well thought out. That definitely was not the case. Things happened in parallel, and actions followed plans almost as often as plans followed action.
16. For a virtual tour, visit http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/vis_info/complex/
17. This included Bellanti signing time sheets for Anderson School personnel and having full responsibility for staff evaluations.
18. At the July 1998 R&I retreat, the group identified 19 projects which they completed during the previous year, a majority of which involved some level of collaboration. An objective of the day was to revisit the barriers list, but so many new ideas for what could be done this next year were put forward, the time was spent on planning their implementation. The major continuing barrier was seen to be inadequate communication within the group regarding knowing who to talk to for information and for making requests; also we realized we needed to do a better job of informing all ACIS staff of what was involved in supporting research and how it differed from supporting instruction.
19. Essentially we followed the path layout in the book: Organizational Vision, Values, and Mission by Cynthia D. Scott, Denise T. Jaffe, and Glenn R Tobe. Crisp Publications, Inc., Menlo Park, CA, 1993.
20. Senior administrators had been kept informed for a number of years. The School's administration was comfortable, but not overly encouraging. On the other hand, the University Librarian Gloria Werner, spoke openly about our effort as one model of the evolution of campus libraries.
21. His full title was now "Head, Rosenfeld Management Library & Assistant Director, Research & Instructional Services, Anderson Computing & Information Services."
22. As implemented at The Anderson School, "living case study" investigates a set of current company problems as opposed to the more traditional post mortem problems present in, say, the Harvard cases. A company sponsors the project by providing the context, access to executives, and participation in the final presentations.
23. Since 1992, students in the Executive MBA and Fully-Employed MBA programs were required to own a laptop computers; this requirement was extended to the full time program in 1996. All training and support for the program is provided by the School. With the new building complex, each seat in the classrooms and library was equipped with both power and a network connection.
24. Stuart Brand speech at Special Libraries Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, June 1999.