Career Profile: Technical Services Manager


Susan Grant

Title of current position:

Technical Services Manager

Current employer:

Southern Maryland Regional Library Association

Please provide a brief description of your job including a general overview of your responsibilities.

I oversee a department of 5 paraprofessionals and 1 professional staff members who copy catalog, original catalog, and process material for three county public library systems as part of a shared catalog. I also provide support for the acquisitions module of our integrated library system (ILS), including setting up and maintaining EDI (electronic data interchange) ordering for all three counties and providing troubleshooting for the acquisitions module. I design training on the cataloging and acquisitions modules for the Polaris ILS. As part of the Regional Libraries management team, I am involved in strategic planning, hiring decisions, and other operational and policy making decisions.

How did you choose your specialty (i.e. music cataloger, metadata specialist, technical service manager, etc.)?

I love being part of a team that provides the behind the scenes support for a library to provide services to its customers.

What specific skills, aptitudes, training, or education does your specialty require?

Systems thinking, management skills, project management, writing skills. Specific to being a technical services manager, knowledge of cataloging standards.

In what ways did your formal education prepare you for your career? What did you need to learn outside of this?

My formal education helped me “think like a librarian” and understand the underlying theories and philosophy of information access. I learned about information structures. I learned about library management, reference tools, and research. Obviously, I also learned practical things like how to catalog a book! Outside of my formal education, I was able to learn how to apply the theory to the reality. I needed to learn more about strategic thinking and planning, communication skills, and just the nitty gritty everyday of being a librarian that really can only be learned over time.

What do you find rewarding in your career?

Helping others do their jobs better. Having a project, seeing it through, and witnessing it in action as a finished product.

What do you find challenging in your career?

Managing a group of diverse individuals. People are hard!

How do you keep up with trends in the field (i.e. involvement in professional organizations, email lists, publishing and research, professional reading, etc.)?

Professional meetings, training, list email lists. My colleagues keep me up to snuff also.

What advice do you have for those considering a career in your specialty?

Educate yourself on the present and future trends but don’t be a slave to them either.

What do you see as the career outlook in your field (i.e. job prospects, changes in responsibilities, etc.)?

I think as long as libraries exist, so will my area of expertise since libraries consists of collections of one kind or another. Obviously, a lot of libraries are moving away from physical collections (not public libraries as much) but even electronic recourses need management so I feel my field is secure for the time being. It becomes very obvious when materials and their descriptions are not managed properly. The end user’s experience suffers greatly when that happens.

How do you strive for a work-life balance? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside work?

Yes, I have my kid who keeps me very focused on non-work!

Is there any additional information you would like to provide?

I am excited about librarianship and feel that it is truly a noble profession. In this age of “fake news,” people who work to provide access to reality are more valuable than ever.

This career profile is one of 14 developed by the Cataloging & Metadata Management Section (CaMMS) Recruitment & Mentoring Committee in 2017. To view a list of all profiles, see Career Profiles in Cataloging, Metadata, & Related Fields.

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