Advances in Library Administration and Organization: Volume 31

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Table of contents

(12 chapters)
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One of the nicest things about editing an annual like this one is that each year you get to spend time reviewing new research in library leadership and reflect upon what you know about running an organization both from your experience and from the literature. Choosing what we publish is in part design, but more often, it is a function of what we find in the way of serious research studies about how we manage libraries and how we as library leaders cope with the changing environment in which we find ourselves. Some of what we publish is truly new, but a good portion of it is based on researchers' efforts to apply classic theory to the administration of libraries.

Purpose – The integration of librarians and technologists to deliver information services represents a new and costly organizational challenge for many library administrators. To understand how to control the costs of integration, this study uses structural contingency theory to study the coordination of librarians and technologists within the information commons.

Design/methodology/approach – This study tests the structural contingency theory expectation that an organization will achieve higher levels of performance when there is a positive relationship between the degree of workflow interdependence and the complexity of coordinative structures necessary to integrate these workflows. This expectation was tested by (a) identifying and collecting a sample of information common; (b) developing and validating survey instruments to test the proposition; and (c) quantitatively analyzing the data to test the proposed contingency theory relationship.

Findings – The contingency theory expectations were confirmed by finding both a positive relationship between coordination and interdependence and a positive relationship between perceptions of performance and degree of congruency between interdependence and coordination.

Limitations – The findings of this study are limited to both the context of an information common and the structures tested. Future research should seek to both broaden the context in which these findings are applicable, and test additional structural relationships as proposed by contingency theory

Practical implications – This study contributes to the library profession in a number of ways. First, it suggests that managers can improve IC performance by matching coordination structures to the degree of interdependence. For instance, when librarians and technologists are strictly co-located, managers should coordinate workflows using less resource-intensive policies rather than meetings. Second, the instruments developed in this study will improve the library manager's ability to measure and report unit interdependence and coordination in a valid and reliable manner. Lastly, it also contributes to the study of structural contingency theory by presenting one of the first empirical confirmations of a positive relationship between interdependence and coordination.

Originality/value – This study represents one of the first empirical confirmations of the structural contingency theory expectations of both a positive relationship between workflow interdependence and coordination, and a positive relationship between performance and coordination's fit to workflow interdependence. These findings are of value to both organizational theorists and to administrators of information commons.

Purpose – The purpose of this study was to examine factors that may or may not contribute to the adoption of the innovation of virtual worlds by librarians. This chapter shares original, timely information regarding virtual world librarianship that may interest educators, librarians, administrators, and information professionals.

Design/methodology/approach – Using Everett Rogers’ diffusion theory as a framework, the study sought to identify librarians with avatars (computer simulated representations of themselves) in the virtual world of Second Life, specifically those with a rez date (date of creation of the avatar) prior to 2 years of the study. The methodology of this study was a survey adapted to align with Rogers’ five attributes. Research questions guiding the study were the following: (1) What are the most influential of Rogers’ five attributes of diffusion theory for librarians making the decision to adopt virtual worlds as a professional medium? and (2) How are Rogers’ five attributes of diffusion theory relevant to the adoption of virtual worlds when applied to the self-identified stage of adoption of librarians?

Findings – Results of the study revealed a high perception of relative advantage and compatibility with librarianship, a good deal of observation of the innovation, but a lower perception of trialability and complexity.

Practical and social implications – Findings may be useful for understanding factors of adoption, for documentation of the efforts of early adopting librarians, and will lead to a better understanding of the future of virtual world librarianship in an age of rapidly changing technology trends. A better understanding of virtual worlds helps librarians continue to explore new modes of information delivery, new platforms to promote information literacy, and new ways to provide collaborative spaces to patrons.

Originality/value – This chapter shares original, timely information regarding virtual world librarianship during the initial stages of exploration and adoption, which may interest educators, librarians, administrators, and information professionals.

The Morgan Library at Colorado State University in Fort Collins suffered catastrophic flooding as the result of a historic rain storm and flood that swept through the town on July 28, 1997. This study examines this single library's organizational disaster response and identifies the phenomena that the library's employees cited as their motivation for innovation.

Purpose – This study provides an example of a library where a pre-disaster and post-disaster organizational environment was supportive of experimentation. This influenced the employees’ capacity and motivation to create a new tool meant to solve a temporary need. Their invention, a service now called RapidILL, advanced the Morgan Library organization beyond disaster recovery and has become an effective and popular consortium of libraries.

Design/methodology/approach – This is an instrumental case study. This design was chosen to examine the issues in organizational learning that the single case of Morgan Library presents. The researcher interviewed employees who survived the 1997 flood and who worked in the library after the disaster. The interview results and a book written by staff members are the most important data that form the basis for this qualitative research.

The interviews were transcribed, and key phrases and information from both the interviews and the published book were isolated into themes for coding. The coding allowed the use of NVivo 7, a text analysis software, to search in employees’ stories for “feeling” words and themes about change, innovation, motivation, and mental models.

Three research questions for the study sought to learn how employees described their lived experience, how the disaster altered their mental models of change, and what factors in the disaster response experience promoted learning and innovation.

Findings – This study investigates how the disruptive forces of disaster can influence and promote organizational learning and foster innovation. Analysis of the data demonstrates how the library employees’ feelings of trust before and following a workplace disaster shifted their mental models of change. They felt empowered to act and assert their own ideas; they did not simply react to change acting upon them.

Emotions motivate adaptive actions, facilitating change. The library employees’ lived experiences and feelings influenced what they learned, how quickly they learned it, and how that learning contributed to their innovations after the disaster. The library's supervisory and administrative leaders encouraged staff members to try out new ideas. This approach invigorated staff members’ feelings of trust and motivated them to contribute their efforts and ideas. Feeling free to experiment, they tapped their creativity and provided adaptations and innovations.

Practical implications – A disaster imposes immediate and often unanticipated change upon people and organizations. A disaster response urgently demands that employees do things differently; it also may require that employees do different things.

Successful organizations must become adept at creating and implementing changes to remain relevant and effective in the environments in which they operate. They need to ensure that employees generate and test as many ideas as possible in order to maximize the opportunity to uncover the best new thinking. This applies to libraries as well as to any other organizations.

If library leaders understand the conditions under which employees are most motivated to let go of fear and alter the mental models they use to interpret their work world, it should be possible and desirable to re-create those conditions and improve the ability of their organizations to tap into employees’ talent, spur innovation, and generate meaningful change.

Social implications – Trust and opportunities for learning can be central to employees’ ability to embrace change as a positive state in which their creativity flourishes and contributes to the success of the organization. When leaders support experimentation, employees utilize and value their affective connections as much as their professional knowledge. Work environments that promote experimentation and trust are ones in which employees at any rank feel secure enough to propose and experiment with innovative services, products, or workflows.

Originality/value – The first of its kind to examine library organizations, this study offers direct evidence to show that organizational learning and progress flourish through a combination of positive affective experiences and experimentation. The study shows how mental models, organizational learning, and innovation may help employees create significantly effective organizational advances while under duress.

An original formula is presented in Fig. 1.

Purpose – The broader research question being addressed is whether head library administrators (HLAs) have the competitive nature required to respond appropriately to strategic and competitive pressures in the library service environment. In addressing this broader research question, this study seeks to determine how HLAs perceive themselves and their peers’ competitive behavior with regard to personal hobbies, sports and games, their personal career performance, and their library's performance.

Design/methodology/approach – A census of the 103 HLAs from North Carolina's two-year and four-year academic libraries (including both public and private institutions) and the 77 public library systems in the state was conducted using a mixed methods design survey instrument to obtain information regarding their perceptions about both their own and their peers’ competitive behaviors.

Findings – The survey response rate was 49% and included a sample that reflected an equal distribution of HLAs by library types and the demographics of the study population. An analysis of survey responses indicate that while HLAs do perceive themselves and their peers to be competitive in behavior for their own personal career and their library's performance, they are not competitive in nonwork activities such as personal hobbies or sports and games. The high levels of reported competitiveness in the respondent's and library's performance variables may indicate HLAs are highly motivated in performing competitive behaviors when it benefits their own careers. The extreme lack of reported competitive behavior in the strategy related variable (sports and games) may indicate HLAs are less motivated or ill-prepared in the strategic response skills required to respond appropriately to strategic and competitive pressures in the library service environment. Respondents projected their own perceptions of competitive behavior unto their peers, which indicates HLA perceptions of their peers in competitive behaviors (possibly other areas) needs to be examined in greater detail to assess the validity of these perceptions.

Research limitations/implications – Data analysis was unable to determine any significant statistical relationships between HLA competitive behavior responses and the variables examined. Further research is needed to identify environmental, psychological, or professional variables that may explain the degrees, motivations, and differences in reported competitive behaviors.

Practical implications – Based on the study findings, libraries may not have head administrators who can effectively respond to strategic challenges facing their libraries. Many libraries may have HLAs who are: not as motivated to respond to strategic needs as career performance needs; have a false set of perceptions of their competitiveness or competitive abilities; have a false set of perceptions of their peers’ competitiveness or competitive abilities; and providing a false sense of security to their libraries that believe the HLA that leads them will enable their libraries to effectively respond to the service environment challenges. In combination, these findings indicate that the library's ability to effectively compete/strategically respond may be dependent on inconsistent and potentially unreliable competitive abilities and personal career motivations. This could make developing strategic responses and sustainability more difficult for libraries in the future.

Originality/value – The study is the first of its kind to examine whether HLAs have the competitive nature required to respond appropriately to strategic and competitive pressures in the library service environment. Having a complete and effective understanding of how head library administrator's competitive behaviors work and impact their library's strategic response development is essential in preparing and supporting existing and future head library administrators in leading their libraries in strategic responses. As the library's head administrator is the primary driver of strategy and strategic/competitive responses for their library, the competitive behaviors and their motivations becomes a critical component of the library's success in effectively responding to strategic challenges and being sustainable for meeting future generation's information needs. It is hoped that by exploring head library administrator's competitive behavior in this study, the researcher has laid the initial framework for understanding how a library's leader will competitively respond or be capable of responding to today's library service environment challenges that have become very competitive in nature and require library organizations to continually develop and perform activities that generate increasingly effective strategic performance and value.

Purpose – Although not extensively documented, academic libraries in the United States of America have been involved in fund-raising for centuries. In more recent years, decreases in university budgets forced academic libraries to rely more heavily on philanthropy in order to operate or expand collections. However, much remains unknown about many aspects of academic library fund-raising. This study expands knowledge regarding library development efforts so that scholars and library administrators can better understand library fund-raising and become more successful in raising money.

Findings – Development work for academic libraries has shown to differ from other forms of development activities on a campus due to the fact that donors to academic libraries tend to differ from other kinds of donors on a campus. This research highlights strategies academic library development officers believe work in cultivating donors from a limited target population and how they believe this differs from or is similar to the work of other development officers in higher education.

Practical and social implications – This research sought to understand how organizational placement of the library development officer in the university has an impact on successful fund-raising.

Originality/value – This is the first research to directly study academic library development officers. This will help library administrators and those involved with academic library development efforts learn what library development officers believe works and doesn’t work in fund-raising.

Valerie Hill is an adjunct instructor at Texas Woman's University School of Library and Information Studies and a school librarian. Her interests include information literacy, human–computer interaction, and the changing roles of libraries and librarians in both physical and virtual spaces. As a National Writing Trainer, she specializes in connecting literature to writing, poetry, digital storytelling, and multi-media production. Dr. Hill has spent the past decade diligently investigating digital media formats, Web 2.0 tools, and emerging technology trends that impact librarianship. She is a leader in exploration of virtual worlds for immersive learning and content delivery.

DOI
10.1108/S0732-0671(2012)31
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-313-1
eISBN
978-1-78190-314-8
Book series ISSN
0732-0671