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Distributed Leadership and Library Service Innovation

aSchool of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
bLibrary, Loughborough University, UK

Advances in Librarianship

ISBN: 978-1-78350-469-5

Publication date: 24 July 2014


The concept of distributed leadership within library services is explored in this chapter. It focuses on how this model of leadership, which devolves leadership functions and practice widely throughout organizations, can lead to intra- and interorganizational collaboration as a catalyst for library service development and innovation. The chapter discusses the distributed leadership approach by presenting selected results of a study of team leaders in public and university library services in the East Midlands region of the United Kingdom. The study employed an online questionnaire and individual interviews with library team leaders to identify the level and nature of collaboration taking place in library services and also to ascertain the skills needed for successful partnership work. The interviews focused primarily on how and why collaborations occurred and it emerged that the team leaders had considerable autonomy to establish and participate in partnerships, fitting well within the distributed leadership paradigm. The chapter adds to, and augments the limited literature on distributed models of leadership in libraries by exploring how this approach works in practice. It also proposes and evidences a link between distributed leadership, collaborative working, and innovation. The authors suggest that distributed leadership can help library services innovate and lead service development by freeing up the creativity of employees through a less formal, hierarchical leadership approach. The chapter ends with propositions for a research agenda to establish the best conditions and most appropriate format of distributed leadership in library services.



Goulding, A. and Walton, J.G. (2014), "Distributed Leadership and Library Service Innovation", Advances in Librarianship (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 38), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 37-81.



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