To read this content please select one of the options below:

The management of absence: why it matters: An analysis of absence management issues, with a case study based in a UK academic library

A.D.B. MacLean (Andersonian Library, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




This paper seeks to give an overview of some ongoing research into absence management practices in a UK university library. The aim of the research in question is to evaluate the effectiveness of current management practices.


The research collected quantitative data over time and the present paper presents a summary of findings and recommendations to practitioners in the same field.


The research findings indicate that the use of return to work interviews after each absence through illness contributes to the reduction in absence levels. The research recommends that firm guidelines be used to ensure consistency in approach; that employee awareness is increased of their own responsibility to attend for work wherever possible. Where a culture of absenteeism exists, it is suggested that appropriate management strategies can produce a culture of attendance. Within academic libraries, this is possible where there is an involvement of human resource departments, with a structure for referring employees, where applicable, to occupational health. This work highlights the need for employers to get value for money from their library resources and recommends absence management as an important component in any agenda for change.

Research limitations/implications

Given the potential sensitivity of the subject area, the anonymity of members of staff had to be a priority, therefore, some of the data analysis could not be carried out as in‐depth as may have been optimally desirable.

Practical implications

The present research provides case study experience for other practitioners, and suggests some recommendations for library managers.


The present research highlights the dearth of literature or benchmarking facilities on absence management within library and information services (LIS). The research is therefore exploratory in nature and goes some way to address the research gap.



MacLean, A.D.B. (2008), "The management of absence: why it matters: An analysis of absence management issues, with a case study based in a UK academic library", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 4/5, pp. 392-413.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles