Indispensable, Interdependent, and Invisible: A Qualitative Inquiry into Library Systems Maintenance


Over 30 years after such systems were first developed, the Integrated Library System underlies most operations of an academic library. Yet in the literature, its day-to-day maintenance is often reduced to a list of tasks. Through interviews with 16 system maintainers, this study attempts to develop an experiential understanding of its maintenance. Findings suggest that most maintainers find such work meaningful but face barriers when colleagues and administrators don’t understand what they do well enough to support it. The article proposes steps toward building a workplace where core maintenance tasks are recognized and supported.

College & Research Libraries

Forthcoming January 2023. Authors accepted manuscript self-archived in Penn State ScholarSphere.

Ruth Kitchin Tillman
Sally W. Kalin Early Career Librarian for Technological Innovations

Card-carrying quilter. Mennonite. Writer. Worker.