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Andy Dawson
School of Library, Archive & Information Studies
University College London

Quality Systems in LIS - The real key to quality.
A personal and pragmatic view

This paper first examines the history and background of Quality System implementation in the Library and Information Service sector in the UK, and describes and summarises some of the various differing mechanisms which have been used: Quality Circles, Customer Care, Quality Assurance, Total Quality Management, Investors In People, Chartermarks, Service Level Agreements, Performance Indicators, Benchmarking and Best Value. It then tries to summarise these mechanisms into a number of fundamental types, and looks at which have - and haven't - worked, and why, suggesting that the important issues in success and failure are not so much related to the mechanisms per se but more to considerations of the organisational and managerial background to their implementation. Issues such as commitment to a quality ideal and involvement of the workforce, the definition of quality, the importance of operational requirements and the avoidance of bureaucracy and subversion of systems are particularly identified as being critical areas. The author then discusses some of what he personally sees as critical issues for success in quality management in Library and Information Services, when these issues need to be addressed in the life cycle of a system, and how the system needs to be managed in order to be successful. In particular the importance of leadership in an appropriate style is discussed, and the importance of conveying to all involved the commitment and honest belief of those who are in charge; and also the importance of tailoring systems to the particular environment each service finds itself in - each system should be, in effect, uniquely tailored to its own environmental context and constraints. The value of the continuous improvement model is addressed. The paper finally suggests that the real key to quality is people, who have to be involved at all points and at all levels in any quality system, and stresses how important it is to remember that it should be the case that the people should drive the system, and not the other way round - which, sadly, happens all to often.

EBIB: Materiały konferencyjne, nr 1
    A. Dawson: Quality Systems in LIS - The real key to quality.