Elizabeth Szkirpan | Movers & Shakers 2022—Advocates

As chair of the Oklahoma Library Association’s Technical Services Roundtable, Elizabeth Szkirpan passionately advocates for the rapidly changing technical services profession.

CURRENT POSITION

Director of Bibliographic Services, Federal Depository Library Coordinator, University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library


DEGREE

MLIS, University of Oklahoma, Norman, 2017


FAST FACT

Szkirpan is pursuing a second master’s degree in business analytics because of the importance she places on measuring data to make decisions.


FOLLOW

@ESzkirp; linkedin.com/in/szkirp; sites.google.com/view/szkirpan-web-portfolio


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Szkirpan

Tech Services Tracker

As chair of the Oklahoma Library Association’s Technical Services Roundtable, Elizabeth Szkirpan passionately advocates for the rapidly changing technical services profession. 

During the initial pandemic closures, some roles in technical services jobs didn’t easily shift to remote work. Under Szkirpan’s leadership, the roundtable organized low-cost training webinars to support their peers adapting to work at home. 

She then surveyed 829 people around the nation and discovered that in every state technical services employees had lost jobs, been temporarily furloughed, or were taking on multiple roles requiring highly technical skills due to strained library budgets, says Szkirpan. 

As technical positions across the country were lost, librarians found few resources to communicate the value of technical services, a profession transformed over the past 20 years. For example, Szkirpan was able to tackle a $500,000 budget shortfall at her library by renegotiating database contracts and eliminating poorly used resources.

Szkirpan says her survey establishes a baseline to track the roles of technical services staff and create quantitative data pools that can be used to advocate for investment in and growth of library technical services teams. 

“Erosion of technical services teams has been ongoing well before the pandemic, and this practice will continue if we don’t demonstrate the value of technical work and technical experts,” she says. “It is very easy to cut the employees who work in the basement and to lean on vendor-supplied services as a replacement, but you truly can’t replace a local expert who knows your community and their needs.” 

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