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Legacy Practices: Implications for Leadership

Emotion in the Library Workplace

ISBN: 978-1-78743-084-6, eISBN: 978-1-78743-083-9

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 8 August 2017


How does leadership empower seasoned staff to relinquish historical practices without compromising self-image with new staff? Libraries are rife with legacy practices; those processes and procedures that were valid and important yet are no longer useful. Relinquishing those practices can be challenging for some staff members. In many cases it is simply, “we’ve always done it that way.” In other cases it has to do with ownership, self-image, or perceptions of job security. The authors examine literature on organizational change exploring the implications of legacy practices and procedures through the lens of Generational Theory. A targeted literature review establishes the link between theories and practices. Specific examples of workflow transitions are examined in order to understand how generational and change theories inform staff behaviors. Legacy practices may be perceived as a barrier that disenfranchises younger staff while at the same time be perceived as a barrier that isolates and devalues older staff. Literature informs us that intra-generational stereotypes prevail and add tensions to discussions of workflow changes. Times of change can be emotionally charged and these stereotypes often lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and conflict. Leadership strategies emerging from literature on organizational change must be applied with careful attention to characteristics identified by generational theory. Communication is a prevalent and recurring theme for successful change initiatives. It is also a moment when generational theory awareness will inform good practice and avoid emotional pitfalls. A careful step-by-step examination of specific workflows that have changed in libraries during recent decades will provide examples in order to inform leaders’ planning for future changes.



Gaspar, D. and Hayden, K. (2017), "Legacy Practices: Implications for Leadership", Emotion in the Library Workplace (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 147-166.



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