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Building and sustaining a culture of assessment: best practices for change leadership

Meredith Gorran Farkas (Instructional Services, Portland State University Library, Portland, Oregon, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 15 February 2013




The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of using Kotter's eight‐step model for change leadership to create a culture of assessment that is embedded in the organizational culture of an academic library.


This is a conceptual paper that examines the potential application of a business change model to an academic library change context. Each step of Kotter's model is described within the context of building a culture of assessment, supported by examples and suggestions from the literature of libraries, higher education, organizational behavior and change leadership.


While building a culture of assessment is critical for libraries in the current environment, it is a difficult and complex process that requires grassroots initiative, top‐down support and strong leadership. Kotter's model for change management provides a pragmatic structure for culture change through behavioral change and change leadership regardless of positional authority.

Practical implications

This paper includes best practices for facilitating a culture of assessment, including necessary resources and possible approaches.


While the literature contains articles about building a culture of assessment, no studies have applied models of change leadership from the management literature to this unique cultural process. This is the first paper that suggests concrete steps for libraries towards building a culture of assessment, even in the absence of an ideal organizational culture. The focus is also on enabling change leadership regardless of whether the change agents have positional authority.



Gorran Farkas, M. (2013), "Building and sustaining a culture of assessment: best practices for change leadership", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 13-31.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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