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Complex Adaptive Systems in Technical Services: A Functional Model for Assessing Institutional Alignment

Technical Services in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-80043-829-3, eISBN: 978-1-80043-828-6

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 8 January 2021


As the demand for new services strains library resources, directors of research libraries must practice efficient cost management and demonstrate alignment with institutional objectives. For technical services, this requires managing the effective cost of metadata services, assessing core functions, and evaluating operational performance. This paper uses Complex Adaptive Systems (CASs) as a framework to expose the network of local and global dependencies that currently define the field of operation for technical services. Comparative analyses using a CASs framework were conducted on reports by the Library of Congress, the Heads of Technical Services in Large Research Libraries Interest Group, and the British Library. Each report addresses financial pressures placed on bibliographic control services in response to the 2008 recession. Statements within the reports were assigned to one of three dominant systems: bibliographic control, institutional identification, and distributive networks. The statements were then mapped to the CASs characteristics to determine environmental pressures and areas of adaptation. The reports exposed long-standing dependencies that tie local bibliographic control to a complex network of external agencies. Institutional shifts toward user-centered services coupled with growing fiscal restraint has disrupted the stability of these networks. The analyses found that in all cases network instability led to localized institutional adaptation to existing economic pressures. The paper recommends applying a CASs model to assess the alignment of distributed metadata standards and systems development to local institutional objectives.



Servizzi, N. (2021), "Complex Adaptive Systems in Technical Services: A Functional Model for Assessing Institutional Alignment", Hines, S.S. (Ed.) Technical Services in the 21st Century (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 42), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-54.



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