Library Structure in the Early 1970s

The administrative structure of the State Library, which had changed numerous times over the years, was now divided into three groups: Library Operations, Library Development, and Administrative Services. Two departments, Publications and Public Information, and System Analysis and Management, reported directly to Trezza. The Library Operations Group was composed of the Public and Technical Services Departments. The Public Services Department included the interlibrary and direct loan service to the systems. This included audio-visual and circulation, “legislative and general reference and information branch,” and the government documents branch. The Technical Services Department was composed of Collection Development and Library Materials Processing, with sections for binding and serials.661

The Library Development Group (headed by James Beasley, interim library director between Reid and Trezza), consisted of nine branches, including Public Library Development (including adult education); Service to the Disadvantaged; Academic and Special Libraries; School-Public Library Liaison; Research and Statistics; Libraries for Institutions and the Handicapped; Library Career Center; Professional Development; and Public Information. The administrative hierarchy was clearly more decentralized than before, particularly during the 1940s and 1950s. However, new departments also emphasized the importance of subjects like the disadvantaged and special institutions.662

This management structure had been recently implemented. In 1967, the State Library had contracted with Cresap, McCormick, and Paget, a Chicago-based management-consulting firm, to analyze the current management structure and make recommendations for improvement. The study found that the library’s existing management structure did not “reflect adequately the Library’s major functions” of “library development, public and technical services, and the supporting administrative services.” Among other problems, the study found “an inefficient split of responsibilities” and an overloaded Deputy State Librarian, who was saddled with “too much involvement… in day-to-day operations with a consequent loss of freedom for overall planning and control.” Redefined salary scales and employee evaluations with more definition was also suggested. The study recommended a streamlined management scheme with improved definition of function, a finding that pleased Illinois State Library officials. On June 9, 1967, the Illinois State Library Advisory Committee moved to adopt the recommendations, creating the new management structure.663

Albert Halcli, assistant director for Public Services, wrote a detailed 15-page article on how Public Services was “developing a new profile” for the April-May 1971 issue of Illinois Libraries. The article commented on the changing role of the State Library and referenced the vision of Robert Rohlf’s 1964 Plan for Public Library Development in Illinois. Halcli also described “library services as a state function” and declared that, “from the legal point of view our public services functions are as follows:

  • To maintain a library for state officials and employees of the state of informational material pertaining to their work.
  • To maintain a circulating collection of materials to supplement the resources of library systems.
  • To act as one of four Research and Reference Centers for the residents of the state.
  • To act as regional depository for U.S. Documents, and to provide interlibrary loan and reference service within the region.”664

While the role of the State Library was diminished with the massive weeding of 1970-71, Halcli noted that the change allowed the library to reallocate its resources to other purposes.

“The systems have relieved us of some functions, and have freed us for other functions of greater depth and intensity. We can now place much less emphasis on high school term paper functions, and on juvenile and fiction books. These are very important functions, but they are now the primary responsibility of system libraries. The State Library can then concentrate its resources on its functions as a government library, and as a Reference and Research Center. Consequently, the last thing in the world we are thinking of is retrenchment. True, the scale of our direct services has been reduced, but this does not imply a diminution of role. We have shed some of our old feathers, so that we can grow new ones.”665

Halcli asserted that the State Library had “a threefold role to play. We are a library for the state government, a library’s library for the systems, and a reference center for the whole state.” However, Halcli stressed that, “the primary function of the State Library is to serve state government.” Halcli clearly stated the changing mission for the State Library. Since implementation of the regional systems beginning in 1965, the library had begun redefining its role.666

Halcli conceded that “at present the term ‘Reference and Research Center’ is still somewhat ill-defined and all its implications have yet to be spelled out.” While direct loans were now limited, Halcli reminded the reader that “any person can call for and use our materials without taking them from the library. By the same token, the library will answer ready reference questions from anyone in the library.” Reference questions from elsewhere in Illinois, formerly handled by the State Library staff, now fell to the regional systems. Students and researchers were still able to use State Library resources, since colleges and other institutions of higher learning remained eligible for direct loans from the State Library.667

“I will go out on that proverbial limb,” wrote Halcli, “and state that our aim is to provide every citizen in the state with speedy and accurate information which will help him deal with his problems.” To do so, Halcli recognized that “the State Library and its systems will have to raise their level of service.” Still, the changing mission of the State Library was not yet fully defined.668

Halcli wryly noted that, “reference work for government most often takes place in the heat of the kitchen. Pressures are great and few requests provide much time for leeway.” Legislators, he claimed, “are members of the ‘Now’ generation. Due to pressure of work, they require accurate information in a short period of time.” Automation made this job easier. The Cathode Ray Tube computer terminal helped “make quick retrieval” of information possible. Halcli summarized the job of serving the state as “hectic, but it’s librarianship close to life.”669