Library Staffing for the Future: Volume 34

Cover of Library Staffing for the Future

Table of contents

(22 chapters)

In the workplace, the aim of positive organizational behavior (POB) is to promote the strengths and proficiencies of the institution’s human capital in the belief that doing so increases work productivity and boosts employee morale while decreasing stress and employee burnout. POB, incorporating the tenets of positive psychology within its framework, emphasizes that the psychological states of self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency are able to be quantified, improved, and controlled. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the concept of POB, to explore its impact on leadership development (particularly by examining the authentic leadership model), to discuss its human resource development (HRD) applications in the workplace, and to apply the POB concept to academic and public library directors with the aim of producing a better working environment for all library staff. A conceptual approach is employed throughout the chapter to provide a theoretical analysis of how the POB concept could be utilized by library administrators. Using a variety of tools such as modeling, coaching, and rewarding innovation to produce the desired behaviors in subordinates, administrators can help to create an organizational climate within their institutions that values positivity over negativity. As a recently emerged phenomenon, POB is still developing, producing two important concepts on its own, namely authentic leadership and psychological capital, which have not been applied to the library profession. This chapter adds a unique perspective to the growing POB literature.


The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the importance of including emotional intelligence training with programs related to providing mentorship to others. Formal mentoring programs, established with specific goals and objectives, need foundation work for context in order to be successful. This chapter pulls from professional literature, important basic components of both emotional intelligence skills and attributes for successful mentoring. By demonstrating the relationship between emotional intelligence and mentors who are successful, future programs and activities within the workplace regarding formal mentorship structures can be influenced positively. There is a relationship between having good emotional intelligence skills by people who mentor and being successful within the mentoring relationship. Mentors who are more self-aware of their own emotions are more likely to manage a mentoring relationship more positively and with better outcomes. Library and information science professionals are undergoing tremendous change within the professional environment, the establishment of mentoring networks can greatly influence professional turnover. The opinions and concepts presented from professional literature has been used and adapted by the author in various workshops and presentations. It is this practitioner’s opinion that any formal mentoring program should start with providing a foundation of emotional intelligence skills for the mentors.


The purpose of this chapter is to explore the continued need for librarians now and in the future to possess excellent interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and receive continual opportunities for their development. The chapter is designed to gather in-depth views on staff abilities and training through the eyes of the author and other senior-level academic library administrators. In-depth survey/interviews with follow up emails for clarification were used to collect data from four senior level academic library administrators. The way by which we hire, enculturate, and provide ongoing professional development and training related to interpersonal/intrapersonal abilities of librarians matters. While the former area has received quite a bit of attention it is the latter which has yet to be fully embraced and incorporated within many organizations. There is a greater potential for library administrators to improve the lives and quality of their staff by not just focusing on specific skills but rather taking a more holistic approach from the hiring process forward that gives greater weight to individual interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, the latter more specifically referring to the application of mindfulness in the library workplace. This chapter explores professional development of staff from a unique perspective. The librarian as a whole is considered implying the need for administrators to be more concerned about the happiness and growth of staff as individuals as opposed to being just library employees. This in turn could lead to dramatic improvements in library effectiveness within their respective institutions.


This chapter illustrates two leadership theories – Heifetz’ (1994) theory of adaptive change, and Bridges and Mitchell’s (2000) theory of leading in transition – to illustrate their applicability to leading experienced staff through change. Using adult learning and followership theories as a conceptual framework, this case study illustrates an application of Heifetz’ (1994) and Bridges and Mitchell’s (2000) theories. Heifetz’ (1994) and Bridges and Mitchell’s (2004) leadership theories offer library leaders a framework for understanding, managing, and leading change efforts. The results in a case study approach are naturally subjective and may have limited generalizability to other library contexts. This study illustrates how library leaders may use established leadership theory to support experienced staff and guide change efforts. In using the adult learning and followership theory framework, the writer advocates for a humane approach to managing change with experienced staff. This chapter is original in its synthesis of three areas of theory in service of understanding leadership and change: adult learning, followership, and leadership. It is the first study to use Heifetz (1994) and Bridges and Mitchell (2000) in the context of library leadership.


One of the greatest challenges facing academic libraries is maintaining necessary space for collections and services. Academic administrators are forced to balance the need for space to support new and expanded programs, while supporting the traditional needs of the educational enterprise. With many of these situations, the answer comes from redeploying library space for other purposes. The net result for libraries is that functions and services run for years might no longer be possible with these changes in space. This is exactly the problem faced by the Kresge Business Administration Library at the University of Michigan when a major gift led to a construction project that saw the library’s footprint decrease by over 80%. As Kresge went through this change, there was a concerted effort to retain jobs, even though many would be dramatically changed with the new world order. This chapter focuses on the response undertaken at Kresge Library to balance the changing needs of the library that accompany dramatic space reduction. Additionally, this chapter will explore the literature on staffing trends in light of major changes to our work, political posturing to generate more work or “business” for library staff, exploration of the assessment program to ensure that we have the right staffing levels.


Small branch libraries are found in many academic institutions. The purpose of this study was to look at specific aspects of management of these branches and in particular the librarians in these branches from an organizational perspective. The organizational structure and support for branches and librarians was looked at in two institutions, Lund University in Sweden, and Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa. An analysis was made through observation, documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with affected staff at both institutions, and the input compared to determine commonalities as well as differences. The small branch academic librarian is a vital part of the organizational landscape. Although needing strong support from the central organization in terms of mentoring and staff development, they provide a unique contribution to the profession as a whole as they fill the role of specialist generalist – a breed of librarian capable of working with the specialist in their own field, but at the same time covering all the specialized fields that users would expect in an academic library. Although a lot has been written about centralization and decentralization and the subsequent place of small branch libraries, the actual role of the librarians as a unique one within academic institutions has not been highlighted in the literature. This study aims to highlight this and assist libraries in assessing and improving the working relationship between the central organization and the small branch librarians.


How can academic libraries unlock staff capacity for new initiatives as they transition their collections from print to digital? The following are four strategies for recapturing staff time as libraries adopt new formats while still supporting older ones at a smaller volume. First, librarians should employ strategic collection development that takes into consideration opportunities for efficiencies as they make the print to digital transition. Second, libraries should implement creative reorganizations in order to scale down print services and effectively manage new digital formats. Third, libraries should rightscale their infrastructure, that is, choose the appropriate level – local, consortial/regional, national, or global – where collection management activities should take place. Fourth, libraries, library software vendors, and publishers should develop purchasing and resource discovery infrastructures that harness shared data to enable network level electronic resource management.


This chapter explores what academic librarians and their supervisors must consider when looking to a remote or telework arrangement as a staffing solution. The popular and scholarly literature on remote work is surveyed and contextualized for information professionals. Research is clear that with proper planning, remote work arrangements can succeed, benefitting organizations and individuals. Even so, liaison librarians are unlikely to have central support for remote work arrangements due to communication and cultural hurdles unique to the profession. While these have been mitigated by technology to varying degrees in other sectors and industries, adoption in libraries has been slow. When librarians do pursue remote work, they are often unsure how to gauge fit, negotiate an arrangement, overcome technical obstacles and cultural misconceptions, and balance work and life. Authors Hickey and Tang: (1) summarize and apply research on remote work for library science professionals; (2) propose a theoretical framework for understanding the future of remote work for practitioner librarians in higher education; (3) present a case study of a successful remote work arrangement at Cornell University; (4) provide thought-provoking coaching questions for librarians and supervisors considering remote arrangements; (5) and identify next-steps for advancing the discussion and study of remote work in libraries. The practical implication of this information, aimed at service providers and managers, is to help them create a better workplace where flexible remote work arrangements are an opportunity for both the individual and organization that facilitate the achievement of personal, library unit, and institutional goals.


To examine the use of student workers in libraries, and to outline how a student worker training program can be designed and implemented. A review of published works (1978–2014), which aims to provide information on training and using student workers for more advanced tasks. A description of the history of student workers in the reference department of the Earl K. Long Library, along with a detailed account of the training used to transform the Student Reference Assistant positions. Finally, a survey sent electronically to all Louisiana academic libraries to gather information on how other libraries use student workers. Many libraries rely on student workers for staff-level tasks. Libraries can use student workers to fill in staffing gaps, to a certain extent, as long as a proper training program is implemented. Research was limited to Louisiana academic libraries, so it is not a comprehensive view of student workers throughout the country. While there were a good number of respondents, the survey was not answered by representatives of each Louisiana academic library. A broader study of how student workers are used in libraries should be conducted in the future. Many libraries still rely on staff to do everything. This chapter will provide libraries with options for using student workers in more advanced ways. It also offers key guidelines to follow when forming a training program. Most research in this area focuses on training or assessing student workers and not on finding ways to use them to fill in staffing gaps.


This chapter explores how a perpetual beta mentality allows public services spaces and staffing to be more flexible, responsive, and dynamic to meet the needs of a university community. In one library’s experience, this led to a redeveloped Student Assistant Program which made better use of student employee time and prompted the authors to begin exploring the impact of library employment on the future work life of student employees. Through various data collection metrics, pilot project testing, and staged implementation, public services have expanded and become more adaptable. This approach included collecting usage pattern statistics, focus groups, and surveys. A perpetual beta mindset and career-oriented work for student employees makes for more responsive public services. The sample size for each focus group was small, but spanned a broad range of student stakeholders. Because perpetual beta allows for constant change, it can be hard to compare data between iterations. Libraries should make employment more meaningful to student assistants and their future careers. This chapter further explores the current research of library employment for student assistants and begins to track their perceptions of said impact after graduation.


This chapter helps us to understand the staffing and workflow ramifications of Linked Data. A survey of the current state of metadata work, compared to the possibilities and intentions of Linked Data modeling and technology, allows us to make a needs assessment for future planning. Findings are that current trends in metadata work – distributed production alongside centralized management, iterative and collaborative resource description – are appropriate in a Linked Data environment, and should be further cultivated. A plan for training staff on the conceptual modeling of Linked Data is also outlined, together providing a launching pad to begin organizational planning for Linked Data.


This chapter provides a current and changing demographic profile of academic librarians working in a research library that is a member of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). Also examined is the changing mix of librarian and other professional staff. The profile is derived from the wealth of data generated from the 8Rs Studies, conducted in 2003–2004 and 2013–2014, respectively. The results show that the retirement and recruitment of librarians, alongside the restructuring of some roles and the attrition of others, have resulted in a noteworthy turnover of CARL library staff and a slightly larger, younger, more diverse, and more highly educated librarian workforce.


This study investigates how university libraries in Nigeria are staffed and presents staff development opportunities and learning activities that sustain staff.


A survey research design was adopted. Purposive sampling technique was used to select 46 universities and 400 respondents consisting of 46 heads of libraries and 354 professionals from federal, state, and private universities. Content of the instrument was based on literature comprising six questions. The 327 (92.4%) usable responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics and presented in simple frequency tables.


The study showed that library workforce in Nigerian universities included different categories of professionals and para-professionals having diversified job opportunities and duties. Most libraries had staff development budget and respondents received various forms of assistance to foster learning. Although all nontransferable skills recorded high mean, respondents accorded less importance to nonlibrary personal skills that can be used to leverage the expectations of recruitment, retention, and sustainability.

Research implications

The study was limited to practicing professionals but has staffing implications for all libraries across Nigeria.

Practical implications

Many professionals may lack the appropriate multi-skills that would enhance exploring new approaches and breaking out of traditional ways of operation in the different library and outside library settings.


The study contributes to knowledge about sustaining library staff in relation to adopting the recommended skills on a broad scale, and assessing how their acquisition can change the perception of professionals to its immense contributions to sustaining them in the workforce.


It has been widely projected in the library literature that a substantial number of librarians will retire in the near future leaving significant gaps in the workforce, especially in library leadership. Many of those concerned with organizational development in libraries have promoted succession planning as an essential tool for addressing this much-anticipated wave of retirements. The purpose of this chapter is to argue that succession planning is the wrong approach for academic libraries. This chapter provides a review of the library literature on succession planning, as well as studies analyzing position announcements in librarianship which provide evidence as to the extent to which academic librarianship has changed in recent years. In a review of the library literature, the author found no sound explanation of why succession planning is an appropriate method for filling anticipated vacancies and no substantive evidence that succession planning programs in libraries are successful. Rather than filling anticipated vacancies with librarians prepared to fill specific positions by means of a succession planning program, the author recommends that academic library leaders should focus on the continual evaluation of current library needs and future library goals, and treat each vacancy as an opportunity to create a new position that will best satisfy the strategic goals of the library. In contrast to the nearly universal support for succession planning found in the library literature, this chapter offers a different point of view.

Cover of Library Staffing for the Future
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Book series
Advances in Library Administration and Organization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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