The Art of People Management in Libraries: Tips for Managing Your Most Vital Resource

Arthur Winzenried (Information Studies (Teacher Librarianship), Charles Sturt University,Wagga Wagga, Australia)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




Winzenried, A. (2011), "The Art of People Management in Libraries: Tips for Managing Your Most Vital Resource", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 7, pp. 629-631.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

One of the more difficult tasks facing the library manager in the present age is people management. Perhaps it has always been difficult but it can often feel that in the modern, rather litigious climate, the task is harder than ever. Where does the library manager/information manager turn for help with this? Further, there is the change in nature of libraries worldwide. Moving from a repository to a gateway (Dowler, 1997; Raitt, 1997; Winzenried, 2010) has further challenged the people who manage these facilities. The net result of almost continual change in libraries over the past 30 or more years is a significant growth in uncertainty among personnel. More than ever before in history perhaps, there is great need for sensitive and confident management of people in libraries. The Art of People Management in Libraries is a resource for just such a situation. The authors, from the beginning, work on the thesis that libraries are no longer predominantly resource collections. People have become the dominant component of operation.

While the “art of people management” in itself is not a new, it has taken on a new relevance and meaning in the modern digital environment. This work uses real life examples as a basis for discussing and advising on that “art” as it has now become. It is no longer the collection which is the dominant resource to be managed, the authors argue, but rather the people involved – the members of the library team. Effectively managing people is seen as vital to achieving the full potential of the library and this work sets out to guide managers of all types along that pathway – a pathway with many pitfalls.

Starting with a quick summary of the considerable changes brought about by digitization, internet, remote access, globalization and increasing pressure from stakeholders, the authors highlight the new importance of interacting with people. Several models are considered along with the changing paradigms. This then leads to a considerable discussion of “systems thinking”. A conceptual framework highlighted for the first time by Peter Senge in 1990 (McKinlay and Williamson, p. 80), presents one means of clarifying and ordering organizational elements. The current authors make great use of the concept and especially develop its relation to strategic planning. This is arguably one of the greatest contributions of the book. Strategic planning is all too often overlooked in the heat of the moment as managers try to cope with the speed of change. Regularly time poor, they tend to work more reactively outing out fires as they appear rather than planning for the future. The Art of People Management is, among other things, a call to all managers to take the time to plan strategically rather than simply continuing to react to the present pressures.

This very accessible work looks into most if not all of the key aspects of managing a library staff. It is a very practical work that includes such issues as team building, dealing with technology, leadership and changing organizational structure. The final section in particular will be very helpful to many readers as the authors explore ten common human relations issues within libraries.

In summary, this is a work that could be vital for existing managers in libraries, as well as for all those contemplating a leading role in the future. The library is changing. Working with the people within this changing environment requires wisdom. This new book offers some very valuable ideas and shares the wisdom of two very experienced folk in the field.


Dowler, L. (1997), Gateways to Knowledge, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Raitt, D. (1997), Libraries for the New Millennium, Library Association Publishing, London.

Winzenried, A. (2010), Visionary Leaders for Information, CIS Publishers, Wagga Wagga.

Further Reading

Fullan, M. (2001a), Change Forces, The Sequel, Falmer Press, London.

Fullan, M. (2001b), Leading in a Culture of Change, Jossey‐Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Johnson, D. (2010), “Miles Library – annotated”, in Winzenried, A. (Ed.), Visionary Leaders for Information, CIS Publishers, Wagga Wagga, pp. 98114.

Welsh, T. and Wright, M. (2010), Information Literacy in the Digital Age: An Evidence‐based Approach, Chandos, Cambridge.

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