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Library Operational Research: Time for a New Paradigm?

Advances in Librarianship

ISBN: 978-0-85724-755-1, eISBN: 978-0-85724-756-8

ISSN: 0065-2830

Publication date: 25 February 2011


This chapter describes the growth and decline of Library Operational Research (Library OR) since the first descriptions of such activity appeared in the 1960s. The changing nature of OR and of the academic library is discussed and a case is made for recognition of a new paradigm in Library OR. First explored are the origins of OR and its application to academic libraries, summarizing some of the critical assessments of Library OR from those active in the field, and exploring some of the literature that relates to the development of OR itself, the academic library as an entity, and the modeler/library–practitioner interaction. Each indicates that a new way of working in Library OR is required if it is to deliver the results that OR has delivered in other contexts. The growth and decline of Library OR has been very marked. The decline has coincided with a reevaluation of the nature and contribution of OR itself, particularly in relation to modeling activities. New modeling approaches have evolved involving problem structuring, and these new paradigms extend naturally to Library OR and would help ease a number of concerns raised against the use of traditional OR models. Practical implications of this chapter are that academic libraries are facing an era of unprecedented change and some of the issues to be addressed relate to identifying and managing strategy and managing change. The adoption of new paradigms could enliven the practice and contribution of Library OR.


Warwick, J. (2011), "Library Operational Research: Time for a New Paradigm?", Woodsworth, A. (Ed.) Advances in Librarianship (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-29.



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