Advances in Library Administration and Organization: Volume 21

Table of contents

(21 chapters)

Contents

Pages V-VII
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INTRODUCTION

Pages IX-XI

Putting together a volume of Advances is an interesting effort that combines a little planning and a lot of serendipity. In the years that we have been editing this annual, Ed Garten and I have spent considerable time searching through tools like Dissertation Abstracts for research studies of interest, tracking people who are doing interesting work, and commissioning articles in contemporary areas of interest. But, as often as not, some of the best of our articles have come about as a result of a chance meeting at a conference, a consulting gig, a conversation with a colleague, or some other happenstance. The papers included here are no different, reflecting both heavy scholarship and more practical information about how we as a profession administer our libraries, the programs we offer, and the work we do. As in past volumes, the context is international in scope, and the strength of the volume may be that it reinforces the idea that, while libraries (and other organizations) in Sweden, Thailand, Canada, South Africa and the United States are very different, the challenges faced and techniques used by managers are not. As a result, we the editors present these articles to you in hopes that they provide some grist for the mill as you try to bring order to your part of the world.

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This study takes the position that the vitality of academic libraries is grounded in the working experiences of its librarians. It suggests that a full understanding of problems facing contemporary information professionals in the post-industrial workplace requires an analysis of the labouring aspects as well as the professional nature of their work. The study of changes in the academic library work experience thus depicts the state of the library, and has implications for other intellectual workers in a social environment characterized by expanding information technologies, constricted economic resources, and the globalization of information production. Academic librarians have long recognized that their vocation lies not only in the classical role in information collection, organization, and dissemination, but also in collaboration with faculty in the teaching and research process, and in the contribution to university governance. They are becoming increasingly active in the protection of information access and assurance of information quality in view of information degradation on the Internet and various compromises necessitated by interaction with third party commercial information producers.

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In an interview in 1991, the Nobel Prize-winning author Laurens Van der Post proclaimed that the era of leaders is over (Block, 1998). A decade later, the topic of breakthrough leadership was the subject of the first special issue in the Harvard Business Review’s seventy-nine year history. Leadership has endured as a consuming issue in both personal and organizational life since Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince was written in 1513. In truth, however, leadership exists as part of a duality: Leaders forge and sustain relationships with followers (Goffee & Jones, 2001). Strikingly, Hitler sensed this duality. In a speech to his personal guard corps, he exclaimed: “All that you are, you are through me; all that I am, I am through you alone” (Kellerman, 2001, p. 21).

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In some organizations action is taken to stimulate creativity and innovation. The right steps may have been taken, such as involving employees in decision making, recruiting and appointing employees who evidence characteristics of creativity, setting standards for work performance and giving regular feedback, yet creativity and innovation are hampered in some way. The culture of an organization may be a factor contributing to the extent to which creativity and innovation occur in an organization (Johnson, 1996; Judge et al., 1997; Pienaar, 1994; Shaughnessy, 1988; Tesluk et al., 1997; Tushman & O’Reilly, 1997 in Martins & Terblanche, 2003). The current organizational culture and the demands of creativity and innovation may lead to a conflict situation.

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In the nineteenth century, the comparative method was seen as essential, if not fundamental, to growth and production of knowledge in the human sciences. However, over time the categories that formed the basis of nineteenth century comparative research (civilized: savage for example) were discredited. And so, in time, was the comparative method itself.

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As libraries endeavor to respond quickly to changing business conditions, even those libraries with well-organized hierarchies find themselves in difficulty. Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps in their book “Virtual Teams,” state that hierarchies “use force to defend resources, maintain social ability and control technology” (Lipnack & Stamps, 2000, p. 145), and this characteristic causes the further slowing down of new developments. As a result, public libraries are placed at a disadvantage as they struggle to meet today’s challenges and prepare for the future. Libraries are coming to realize, as many businesses already have, that hierarchies may no longer be the best model for successful operation in a rapidly changing environment.

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The Johannah Sherrer Memorial Lecture in Library Service was established in 1999 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, to commemorate the contributions and legacies of a respected friend, colleague, and champion of service. Johannah Sherrer (1947–1998) served as Director of the Aubrey R. Watzek Library at Lewis & Clark College from July 1993 to September 1998 when she passed away following a gallant battle with melanoma. Previous Sherrer Lecture presenters have been: 1999 – Walt Crawford, “Service in a Complex Future”; 2000 – Jerry D. Campbell, “The Fate of Service in an Increasingly Digital and Commercial World”; 2001 – Elizabeth A. Dupuis, “The Importance of Being Learned”; 2002 – Joan K. Lippincott, “Service in a Collaborative Way.”

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In my mind, there are two Johannah Sherrers: one is the paper Johannah that you would know from reading her vita; the other is the personal Johannah that you would know if she were your colleague, your mentor, or your friend. I’d like to examine briefly both of these Johannahs.

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There is a plaque on the wall near the reference desk in the Aubrey R. Watzek Library at Lewis & Clark College where Johannah Sherrer served as library director from 1993 to 1998. It reads, “In Memory of Johannah Sherrer.” I always imagine that Johannah is watching over us as we staff the desk, answer questions, and provide service. For in addition to being a library director, Johannah was a reference librarian par excellence. She not only knew her stuff, but she also had a way with people, a way of engaging them and showing that she really cared about them and their needs. She would go the extra mile to find the answer to a tough question, and she instilled her service values in her staff.

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In an intriguing and provocative paper in Social Epistemology, Luciano Floridi (2002) seeks to define library and information science as applied philosophy of information. In his examination of what the philosophy of information is, Floridi notes: The subsequent growth of the information society and the appearance of the infosphere (the semantic environment in which millions of people spend their time nowadays) have further influenced the development of contemporary philosophy. This has moved from focusing on the domain represented by the memory and languages or organized knowledge – the instruments whereby the infosphere is managed – to focusing on the nature of its very fabric and essence, information itself. Information has thus arisen as a concept as fundamental and philosophically important as ‘being’, ‘knowledge’, ‘life’, ‘intelligence’, ‘meaning’ or ‘moral good and evil’ – all pivotal concepts with which it is interdependent – and so equally worthy of autonomous investigation (p. 42).Floridi goes on to state that “The philosophy of information revitalizes old philosophical questions and poses, or rather identifies, new crucial problems. It also helps us to revise our world-view” (p. 42).

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In reflecting on the theme of “The Changing Face of Service,” I considered service in a broad context – not just in libraries, not confined to the academy, not focusing on scholarly publishing. Instead, I gave some thought as to how our views and expectations of service are shaped throughout our daily experiences, and how we might compare and contrast service as framed in different contexts. When should we expect it? How do we measure service (indeed, do we?)? When should we demand it?

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They call in from near and far, they drop by, e-mails fill your box, and, as the term approaches an end, there is a flurry of paper that flies from the fax machines. The activity that surrounds this student population is all part of the “customer service” that constitutes meeting the academic support needs of the distance learning student. Designing a program that provides the most appropriate and expeditious method of delivering information to these students is a challenge that libraries have had to face as e-learning has gained popularity on our campuses. Since its entrance into distance learning in the late 1970s, Eastern Oregon University has been recognized nationally as a leader in the field. As demand for expanded curriculum grows, so does enrollment, Eastern’s Division of Distant Education (DDE) program is experiencing the same growth trends reflected nationally, demonstrating an average 61.3% increase over the past 5 years (EOU, 2002).

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Liberal arts education has traditionally emphasized critical thinking and other components of information literacy. Because knowledge is accumulating and changing even more rapidly than in earlier eras, it is more crucial than ever that students develop the motivation and ability to become lifelong learners if they are to flourish personally and professionally in this information age. Cornell College has established a campus-wide emphasis on information literacy since 2000. While the skills and knowledge that constitute information literacy have been a part of the curriculum long before, an intentional effort to integrate information literacy into coursework in all disciplines has revitalized the dialog about teaching these critical thinking skills and has re-invigorated effort toward information literacy goals. That dialog causes us to ask one another and ourselves “What is information literacy? How is it to be taught, nurtured, learned, and utilized?” These questions and others were highlighted as the College undertook its re-accreditation self-study where information literacy was a particular point of emphasis.

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In a Dilbert cartoon the pointy haired boss introduces his son to Dilbert, explaining that the young man has been hired to manage the technology development group because he has gone to college. When Dilbert asks him what college he attended, the youth replies that he actually spent four years hiding in the attic. What does a college education accomplish? Will it get you the job of your dreams? What can a person really learn? How does higher education distinguish one from others in the workforce or next door for that matter?

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It should come as little surprise that the technological advances in information storage and retrieval have led many in the information professions to renewed concerns for educating student users in college libraries. The introduction of electronic information retrieval methods and an explosion in the amount of information available online and across media have created a sort of instructional imperative, to which many in the academic community have responded. This move, which characterizes so many programs in public, school, and academic libraries, is consistent with contemporary models of librarianship that emphasize information access over information acquisition and storage. This agenda has important implications for 21st century library administrators, reference professionals, and LIS educators, even though the practice of “teaching the use of books and libraries” (Rothstein, 1955, p. 14) has 19th century roots. Indeed, from an early date academic librarians viewed “bibliographical information” provided by “the librarian of their college or university” (Adams, 1887, quoted in Rothstein) as key in enabling students “in all their after lives to do their individual work more readily and successfully (Barnard, 1838, quoted in Rothstein).

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In 1985 the Colorado State Legislature mandated, in Article 13 of HB 1187, that institutions of higher education become “accountable for demonstrable improvements in student knowledge, capacities and skills between entrance and graduation” (Colorado Revised Statutes, 1988). As a result, the University of Northern Colorado Libraries became involved in the assessment process. In 1988 the UNC Libraries formed the University Libraries Assessment Committee, comprised of library faculty, classified staff and an administrator in an ex officio position. The Assessment Committee conducted the first survey to assess user satisfaction in the fall of 1988. Since that time, the committee has conducted an assessment program on an annual basis. Today, the UNC Libraries are evaluated in three areas: collections, services, and instruction. Over time, the assessment tools and survey methodologies have evolved, and a variety of program changes have resulted. In this article, we will summarize the history of the assessment program at the UNC Libraries, track selected questions through the years, and describe the resulting changes in the UNC Libraries programs.

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The academic library is an important component of any university and is responsible for providing academic and research support to all members of the university community. At present, higher education institutions in Thailand are trying to evaluate and improve their quality by implementing quality assurance models/mechanisms. Libraries, as critical supporting organizations in these institutions, also need to improve their quality. As a service organization, academic libraries are faced with the need to satisfy their clientele and to measure and evaluate their services. There is a need, therefore, for librarians to take positive steps to insure that their clients receive quality services.

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About the Authors

Pages 299-302
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DOI
10.1016/S0732-0671(2004)21
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-84950-284-9
eISBN
978-1-84950-284-9
Book series ISSN
0732-0671