A possible organizational chart for a public library

Of course, click me to see the full size

Before I dive in, I offer some clarification:
Technology Support Staff: 3 per unit, 6 total
PR Staff: 2 per unit, 4 total
Library Support Staff: 25 total staff

I had a dream about the library I’d like to build.  It employed 62 total people.  I’ll break it down for you:

CEO: Sort of the grand overseer, the CEO would make sure shit works together, flows, and all that jazz.  The true role of the CEO is to unlock the talents within each and every employee.  They make it happen.

  • The CEO has a personal assistant to help organize their affairs.
  • There are 2 assistants to work with the managers below.  Like the other assistant, they help organize their affairs.

BUSINESS MANAGER: They hold all the money.  They oversee the business staff, each of which has their own focus in developing the library’s financial needs.

  • GRANTS: Public library funding is being cut.  However, there’s a shit ton of grant money out there to be found.  The job of the person in charge of grants is to identify (with the support of other staff) areas in which they should search for grants and then prepare those grants for submission.
  • BUDGET: The job of the person in charge of the budget is to negotiate with public officials on budget matters, manage the allocation of budget funds, and make sure that everything having to do with the entire organization budget is in order.
  • OTHER FUNDING: The person in charge of this area will have to seek out funding from private donations within the community.  This can include donations from organizations or individuals.

HUMAN RESOURCES: Basically, they are there to support the rest of the staff.  They oversee the human resources staff, each of which focuses on a specific element to improve employee relationships and happiness.

  • PAYROLL: Dealing with the weekly rumblings of paying employees, getting checks out, and making sure everything lines up.
  • BENEFITS:  This employee will manage all employee benefits (health, other insurance, retirement) and always seek out the possibility of better and cheaper benefits.
  • WORKER RELATIONS: The head of worker relations will offer employees an ear to listen to their ideas, suggestions, complaints, and anything the employees have to share.  They will then communicate what they learn from the employees in a confidential manner to the area which it concerns.

LIBRARY MANAGER: A library manager will oversee a staff of 3 librarians and 25 support staff to ensure that the day to day operations of the library run smoothly.  Their entire focus is on library related matters only (collection development, patron interaction, etc).

  • The three librarians in the institution will each serve a specific age range.  They will need to be well versed in all meda (music, movies, video and board games, books, and other materials that a library can collect) and provide their targeted age range with access to these materials.  They will also work with the Community Manger and their staff on bringing excellent programming, education, and services to the community.
  • The Library Support Staff runs the day to day operations of the library: interacting with the community, circulation of library materials, etc.  They are the day to day public face of the library and the heart of the organization.  They are the main key to the library’s success.

COMMUNITY MANAGER: The role of the community manager is to establish the library as a community center.  Their focus is on overseeing staff that reach out to the community through events, aid, education, and more.  They manage a team of four employees who each have a specific focus.  These four employees plus the manager also work with each other to maintain a level of consistency in community outreach.

  • YOUTH PROGRAMMING: Working mostly with the Children’s and Teen Librarians, they will coordinate programs and outreach to the community for these age groups.
  • ADULT PROGRAMMING: Working mostly with the Adult Librarian, they will they will coordinate programs and outreach to the community for this age group.
  • SOCIAL WORKERS: Let’s face it.  Public libraries have a lot of unique patrons everyday.  Some are just here to pick up some materials, others want to use our technology, and some camp out here all day.  Each has their own unique story.  As a librarian working on a public desk, you start to see that some of these people just need someone to talk to.  These would be the people they could talk to.  Consider them having “open office hours” for patrons throughout the day.  They’d work with other institutions in the community to provide the best possible service for any of the community members they interact with.  I’m gonna say 3 social workers total on staff.
  • EDUCATORS: Libraries need teachers for their community.  Tutors for specific subjects, helping community members with language (reading and writing), hosting technology workshops, etc.  It would be really great if each educator took on a different age group and worked with other community organizations (schools, home schooling networks, adult education)  on bringing more resources to the patrons.  Like the social workers listed above, I’m gonna say 3 educators total on staff.


  • The technology manager would oversee a staff of six.  They would be responsible for working with all areas of the library on bringing quality technology to patrons and maintaining all technology in the library.  The technology staff would be a mix of programmers, web designers, hands on techie people (you know, people that get in there and fix shit!), and more.  They would work with the librarians to integrate technology into the borrowing habits of the patrons (I don’t know what this exactly means, but think about eMaterials).  They would create their own programs, OPACs, and other tools that the patrons could use and borrow.


  • The PR department would be responsible for handling all media relations with the library.  There would be four total PR staff, and they would be divided up into two teams that would focus on different areas of the library.  They would work with their areas to communicate to outside media about the happenings of the library.  Of course, social networking and all that web 2.0 jazz would be a key focus of their job, and the PR department w0uld work with the librarians to maintain a strong digital presence.  Taking a cue from David Lee King (read the link and you’ll get it!), the PR department would make sure that the library staff is uniquely expressed in the community (that sounds like jargon, but I couldn’t think of a better way to say it.  Basically, make sure the community knows their library staff so well that they become known as a VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THE COMMUNITY).


  • No, I didn’t think about money/funding and all that stuff.  Yes, I realize that’s a big part of it too.  Perhaps that’s for another blog post. One thing at a time for my mind!
  • I have no idea what size city this library would be for, but yes, of course, it would be for more of an urban library setting.
  • Yes, I have noticed that I only have 4 librarians working in this library.  Why?  LIBRARIES DO NOT REALLY NEED LIBRARIANS.  Yes, we need a few, but only to maintain the LIBRARY part of the library.  The rest?  Why not employ people that know their shit?  A CEO running a library?  Sure, why not.  They get what it takes to run a big organization. A librarian?  Not really.  Yes, I am aware of the shit I am going to get for saying that.  All of the other employees I’ve listed are also EXPERTS in their area, so that’s why I’m thinking they’d be a good fit.  Librarians are good at being librarians, social workers at social work, etc.  Why not employ experts to make the library a stronger, most unique experience?

Also, many thanks to Ryan Deschamps for this tweet.  I gotta add training into this.  Consider this a living and breathing, always updating document!


  1. I think it’s GREAT that you’re thinking about staff to pursue other funding opportunities. I actually think you could have just one person doing both grants and other funding — call them the Development Manager. My original career was development and I did it all — grants, individual giving, special events — and there are plenty of talented professionals in the field who could do a bangup job for a library.

    I also think you’re right that there’s no reason to have librarians in charge of areas outside their expertise, unless they go GET the expertise necessary to effectively do technology, PR, fundraising, etc. Just because these things are taking place in and for a library doesn’t mean that a librarian is necessarily the best person to do them.

    • I think your comment highlights what I was really trying to get across in this post…the library should have more than just librarians in it. Somehow I got all worked up and caught up in developing this chart. For sure, I ain’t an HR person. 🙂

      You have something on the “development manager” idea. My thinking was me trying to scheme up a way of getting maximum amount of outside funding by spreading the responsibility out. Then again, I don’t really know much about this area so I’ll totally take what you said into consideration when I make an edit of this document.

    • I’ve seen your work as a children’s librarian. I’d totally consider you a front runner for the job.

      Also, I forgot to mention: there would be play areas for all ages. Like gym mats everywhere, giant toys, and lots of awesome.

  2. And you could keep more librarians in the library if we changed what our expectations of a librarian should be. For the past two years I’ve been formulating an opinion that the MLIS is bloated and outdated. I’d prefer to see LIS as a certificate that could be coupled with a master’s in: social work, early childhood, business, marketing, popular culture, media production, american literature, ad infinitum. A social worker who knows how to do a reference interview would be a major benefit to today’s libraries and certainly the libraries of the future.

    • I am not sure that the MLIS is “bloated and outdated”. Perhaps the definition of a librarian should be expanded. Look at the purpose of a library and, yes, we play many roles in the community, however, I don’t think that means we need to have a “social worker” in the library. That is where librarians collaborate with other community organizations whose sole focus is pertains to those roles. That is what a librarian does. They bring together the information and many organizations that contribute to the well-being of the community.

  3. Great post. As it happens, our library is entering its third year of deep budget cuts. The first two years we tried to maintain the existing library organizational structure,hoping(?) believing (?) that things would turn around or there would be some guidance from the city, perhaps a vision for the city that departments could work towards, together even in parlous times. ‘Nuff said on that score. I see real possibilities for the model you present, and have shared it with my colleagues on our strategic planning committee. I would welcome more information and updates.

  4. Great post. I would like to discuss this with you at your convenience. For many reasons-funding, weaknesses in the current distribution of duties and job descriptions, evolving roles in the community-we have the opportunity/responsibility to implement change, and I have shared your configuration with our strategic planning committee. Contact me at your convenience!

  5. Good morning Justin,

    I hope this is not the third similarly worded message you have received from me! The recent snow storm has played havoc with my Internet connection. I was intrigued by your organizational chart, especially its originality. We are an urban library, albeit in a small city, and what you propose reflects many of my currently less developed ideas about how we need to cope with parlous budgets, a paradigm shift in the services provided to customers and even the purposes of a library in the 21st century. I would appreciate more information if you have continued to work on your ideas.

  6. It basically reflects a municipal/city organizational chart of which the library is one department. The library works with other departments in the city to accomplish their finance/business, grant writing, etc. The City Manager/ Mayor manages the department heads.and the department heads manage the staff in each department. And, sorry, yes the library does need librarians. I have been in libraries where there are few or no librarians (granted these are small libraries) and it shows big time.

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