Recipe for Change
Poster session presented by: Cordelia Swinton (, Head, Access Services, Barbara Coopey ( and Joyce Harwell (, Interlibrary Loan Coordinating Team


Interlibrary Loan staff were suffocating under a heavy burden of an ever increasing workload. Was it possible to change from an environment where the process controlled the staff, to an atmosphere where staff control the process?

Interlibrary Loan had to get ready for change. Staff needed time to shift from being apprehensive about change, to embracing it as solution for a better workplace. A Continuous Quality Improvement Team was formed, out of which emerged a new culture and a new structure. The reorganization formed two process teams (Borrowing and Lending) and a management team (Coordinating).

Interlibrary Loan had to get set for change. Reorganization into teams removed many familiar routines and structures that apply meaning to oneís job. Each team member sought to define his role as he learned to work unsupervised in a team-directed atmosphere.

Interlibrary Loan changes. Interlibrary Loan staff members successfully moved from an environment where the process controlled the staff, to an atmosphere were staff control the process. During this transition, staff members gained invaluable experience in teamwork and developed quality service guidelines. Equipped with these new skills, ILL Teams are prepared and empowered to meet the challenges of continuous change.

This is Penn State Interlibrary Loanís recipe for incorporating change. This is what worked for us. Instead of trying to make our department fit into a textbook team structure, we took the concept of teams and teamwork and applied them to our office culture, working within the University Librariesí hierarchical structure.

Ready For Change

Antiquated procedures could not keep up with increasing volume of requests. Budgetary constraints resulting in decreased acquisitions and a hiring freeze compounded the problem. Patronís shortened tempers and poor staff morale were commonplace, and timely service suffered. The 1991 ARL/RLG ILL Cost Study indicated that our interlibrary loan operation was expensive compared to other research libraries. Our Associate Dean proposed a CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) Team to examine the borrowing of nonreturnables. This team laid the foundation for a new way of thinking in all of ILL. Was it possible to transform from an atmosphere of powerlessness, fatigue, and antiquated processes into one of creative, proactive and energizing cooperation?


 Set for Change

Familiar routines and the old structure were gone. ILL Teams struggled with discovering a new sense of identity and clarifying their purpose and mission. Confrontations and "gripe sessions" slowly healed past wounds. An emphasis was placed on communication, cooperation, and developing interpersonal and interactive skills. Each team searched to define its role as it learned to work unsupervised in a team-directed atmosphere. Meetings and teambuilding sessions seemed endless. Dedicated staff members realistically improved processes and their working relationships.

Recipe Cards: Techniques that worked for us

Spice Bottles: Attributes and skills acquired to build successful teams Tasting Spoons: Putting our training to the test Measuring Cup: How are we doing? ILL Changes

ILL staff successfully traversed from an environment where the process controlled the staff, to an atmosphere where staff control the process. Team members have commitment and pride in their job. The invaluable experience of focusing on teamwork and process improvement has equipped members to face future challenges in a continually changing work environment.

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