Using data drawn from interviews with staff at South Bank Polytechnic in 1985, the attitude of non‐professional staff to automation, the ways in which they can prepare for such a move, and the effect of automation on job satisfaction are all considered. The prospect of automation is disturbing to non‐professional staff; reassurance needs to be given by a systems librarian who is interpersonally as well as technically skilful. Automation training must emphasise jobs and purposes rather than technology and hardware; it should allow for different learning styles, be conducted informally in small groups, and include hands‐on experience. Automation will succeed best where participative management is practised, but no single approach to automation will work in every environment; the manager′s job is to find the “best fit” between the organisation and the style of automation adopted.
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