Advances in Library Administration and Organization: Volume 26


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

It is difficult for me to believe that this series has been around for a quarter of a century. But then it is hard to rationalize a belief that I am still a young man. As we begin the 26th volume of ALAO, it seems useful to consider the work that has come before. Twenty-five volumes of research studies and papers focused on library management and organizational issues may be a significant milestone for any monograph series in our profession, but it also represents an opportunity to step back, catch one's editorial breath, and take stock of near-term future directions. Clearly, some monograph series never see a 25th anniversary, while others have been pressed to change focus entirely. Yet others have become less-than-relevant to real-world professional challenges. For better or worse, this series has carried on, and, again, as one of our editors noted a few volumes back, offers the reader “an eclectic collection of papers that convey the results of the kind of research that managers need, mixing theory with a good dose of pragmatism.” Since the first volume in 1982, the aim has been to provide a publication venue for those manuscripts that are typically longer than most journal articles but shorter than most books. Moreover, the idea then as now was to relieve authors of the constraints that sometimes attend other genre and at the same time to encourage the presentation of thoughtful pieces that integrate theory and practice. Call me hidebound if you will, but as we offer Volume 26, I would argue that we have stayed true to our tradition of providing good research pieces that are worth reading.

This study investigated the skill development of academic reference librarians. It has been assumed that skill develops over time through experience, yet workplace competencies are currently described without reference to level of expertise. Drawing on the literature of occupational sociology, the Dreyfus model is an experiential, developmental model rather than a trait or talent model, allowing the holistic exploration of skill change through analysis of reference situations as contextualized and social phenomena. Three aspects of change in skill level were investigated: the shift from reliance on rules and abstract principles to the use of real experience to guide action; the growth in ability to discern relevant information from noise in complex situations; and the increase in engaged, involved performance out of initial detachment. Analysis of interview narratives with 17 reference librarians and two reference assistants suggests that the Dreyfus model is applicable to reference skill development with some differences. Skill characteristics were discerned at four levels: beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. Observed skill criteria in the narratives were used to reorganize the mixed skill levels presented in the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians.

Corporate culture is a spirit formed by the shared values of the individuals in the organization that has potential to make the library more than the sum of its parts, both positively and negatively. It is the vehicle by which the organization defines itself, for both itself and the clientele, with the purpose of providing the best service possible by sharing a vision of the organization as an organic whole. It operates through the power of peer influence rather than direct vertical authority. This paper takes a holistic approach to a concept that is more complex than it first appears; it addresses the molding of corporate culture, not as a management function, but as a complex and deep system, being in effect the soul of the organization, which resides in the motivation of each individual and which, therefore, requires a special kind of leadership.

University libraries have traditionally been the primary caretaker of scholarly resources. However, as electronic modes of information delivery replace print materials, expectations of academic libraries have evolved rapidly. In this environment, academic libraries need to be adaptable organizations. Librarianship, though, is deeply rooted in strong values and beliefs which inherently limit receptivity to change and innovation, but these constraints are not absolute. Social network research indicates that professional advice networks play a significant role in how one thinks about and performs work and that individual perspectives are broadened when diverse input is received. Based on social network analysis methods, this study explored the relationship between individual receptivity to innovation and the composition of a person's professional advice network through a purposive sample of academic librarians in Illinois. The group completed a survey that explored two dimensions: (1) the nature of relationships within their professional advice network and (2) the individual's personal receptivity to innovation. Analysis of the nature of relationships within the professional advice networks was based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques, in contrast to the analysis of the respondents’ receptivity to innovation which was based on quantitative measures. Based on the information from the 440 respondents, the results of this research indicate that there is a relationship between the size of the professional advice networks and individual's receptivity to innovation, but additional aspects of the professional advice network may play a role in an individual's overall receptivity to innovation.

The institution of tenure has elicited debate and controversy since its introduction in higher education. Proponents argue the need for tenure based on academic freedom and efficient university governance. Critics argue that it represents inefficiency in the higher education labor market and protects less productive faculty members. The use of tenure in academic libraries has been no less controversial, with only 40−60% of academic libraries supporting tenure track positions for academic librarians. This dichotomy in the labor market for academic librarians represents a natural experiment and allows for the testing of the presence of a compensating wage differential for tenure.

This study examines 10 years’ worth of cross-sectional data drawn from member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Models examine both the institutional characteristics of tenure-granting ARL academic libraries and the impact of tenure on starting salaries. Issues related to both a union wage premium and a compensating wage differential due to tenure are explored. The results of this research suggest that tenure, while serving other functions within an academic library setting, does not have the predicted impact on starting salaries.

In 2005, a qualitative study was undertaken to explore the educational events, personal experiences, and job circumstances that a selected group of non-MLS library directors working in small Texas communities believed were significant in contributing to their professional development. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 17 female library directors working in Texas communities with populations of 25,000 or less using open-ended questions, and interviews were recorded and transcribed for later analysis. Four major topic areas relating to the professionalization of non-MLS library directors were identified from the data: (1) job satisfaction, including library work as spiritual salvation, librarianship and the ethic of caring, making a difference in the community, and pride in professional identity; (2) professional development, including hiring narratives, continuing education and lifelong learning, mentoring and professional development, and the importance of the MLS degree; (3) challenges facing small community library directors, including gender-based discrimination, resistance from local governing officials, and geographic isolation; and (4) guidelines for success, including understanding the community, becoming part of the community, making the library the heart of the community, business and managerial skills, and people and customer service skills.

Librarians have traditionally looked to academic library directors (ALDs) to list those qualities that make them good at what they do. Little research has sought the input of institutional administrators (who are the ones who hire ALDs) about what they look for when hiring ALDs. This study presented a list of qualities that had been rated by ALDs as being important for the position to these senior institutional administrators and asked them to rate the relative importance of these qualities and to add to the list any qualities they felt should be there. Their ratings were then compared with those of the library directors to see how closely they correlated. The results showed not only that there was statistically significant agreement between the two groups, but also that there were important differences, with the hiring administrators placing more priority on ideological attributes (attributes based on professional orientations and ideals) while ALDs emphasized the need for experience. The hiring administrators also added several attributes to the original list, including managing multiple priorities, being learning/student oriented (especially toward low achievers), being self-directed with a good work ethic, being able to relate effectively to all constituencies, and experience in the same type of institution as the one the person was being hired to lead.

This study used confirmatory factor analysis to analyze the secondary data resulting from a service quality survey conducted by a large public library. The library outsourced the development of this survey, which was founded on the well-recognized SERVQUAL and LibQUAL+ service quality models. Applying structural equation modeling and recognized fit indexes to the secondary data, this study determined that the library model did not fit the data and that the data itself were neither reliable nor valid. This study developed a nine-step process for implementing the SERVQUAL model that enables the data derived from SERVQUAL-type implementations to provide superior information for decision making.

Belinda Boon is currently an Assistant Professor at Kent State University. Formerly, she was a Continuing Education Consultant with the Texas State Library and a small community library director. She earned an MLIS (1987) and PhD (2006) in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Advances in Library Administration and Organization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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