This paper seeks to examine the integration of the Western concept of dynamic equilibrium and wa, the Eastern concept of harmony, and how wú wéi (maintaining centrality, hence, stability, in a dynamic environment) is fundamental to the sustainable development of the library system in a harmonious manner.
The Western concept of self and the Chinese Taoist concepts of change and stability are used to examine the role of the human being – the librarian – in the constantly evolving environment.
The paper finds that four competing values faced by the librarian are based on the needs to adopt internal focus, external focus, flexibility and control. The four competing values generate issues confronting the academic librarian. Frustration – what challenges and pressures do academic librarians currently face in the university environment specifically? History and destiny – what lessons can the history of libraries in universities give us about their future role in the scholarly community? Constraints – what are the possible environmental barriers which might prevent librarians working dynamically in parallel with or ahead of university “strategists”, to secure their vision as key players in tomorrow's academy? Conflicting forces from library stakeholders are analysed in a competing values model which encompasses the elements of organisation systems and organisational culture.
The competing values framework provides the basis for formulating a research agenda to investigate the central role played by university libraries in the societal development of human‐kind.
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