The study aims to identify strategies to enhance change readiness and professional competence in academic reference librarians in a time of organizational change and challenge.
The author, as departmental head, was able to influence strategies taken and to directly observe and record processes and outcomes. Staff also participated in two surveys to establish and trace competence. Motivation to deal proactively with the changing environment was built through good communication and looking at likely future scenarios. Required competencies were established, skills assessed, goals set for professional development, and progress assessed. Staff participated in determining directions and took responsibility for implementing agreed actions.
The paper finds that reference staff responded positively to enhanced opportunities to influence directions. They willingly took responsibility, developed new skills for a changing environment, and demonstrated effectiveness in new ways. Positive outcomes included recognition through a national award, successful grant applications and project work, and positive attitudes shown by staff at a time of organizational restructuring and downsizing.
Reference staff capability to provide innovative services and to adapt to changing expectations and opportunities is enhanced by participation in management of library directions and through staff development.
This case study offers insight into practical and inexpensive approaches to enhancing reference librarian change readiness and competence.
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