Management. Each graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program is able to apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
“Management is about managing people as well as the places where they work and the activities they undertake,” Velasquez posits in her introduction to Library Management 101: A Practical Guide (2013, p. 1). Successful management of libraries and information organizations factors in all three core elements—library professionals, library facilities, and library programs and services—in the process of planning, managing, marketing of, and advocating for, information organizations, to help them better serve their users.
Organizational planning in libraries is set to accomplish the vision and the mission in which they ground their work. A good strategic plan not only provides a roadmap towards the goals a library wants to achieve, it also explains how to get there. The rate at which changes occur in today’s library landscape calls for careful environmental scanning—in order to anticipate the shifts in the demographic, economical, and global environments in which these libraries operate—and setting the time frames that are practical in terms of plan implementation. Consequently, some strategists advise adopting short-term planning in the information organizations strategic planning process. “The fear has likely come about because of the difficulty of looking too far into the future with any kind of accuracy,” Jordan explains. “Librarians wishing to engage in strategic planning should create plans on a time line that is reasonable for them, considering their own individual environments and needs” (2013, p. 77). Performing SWOT analysis, identifying target audiences, defining service needs, formulating guiding principles, and setting realistic timelines help libraries not only set the strategic goals and objectives that will benefit their users, but also specify the target outcomes for these objectives so as to help accomplish these goals most effectively and efficiently.
Leadership, decision making, fostering change and innovation, team-building, human resource management, budgeting, strategic planning, effective organizational communication—these skills represent a successful library manager of the 21st century.
While striving to be successful in the today’s work environment, organizations in many fields must recognize a reciprocal nature of leadership and followership. Kelley describes effective followers as people who:
- manage themselves well;
- are committed to the organization and to a purpose, principle, or person outside themselves;
- build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact; and
- are courageous, honest, and credible (1992).
Semantic concerns aside, I believe that the concept of followership can be used as an important tool in library management. In addition to empowerment, it appears to be conceptually aligned with several other management philosophies based on participative decision making— participative management theories—such as shared leadership (Pearce & Conger, 2003; Cawthorne, 2010), open-book management (McCoy, 1996), stewardship (Block, 1996), as well as related theories, such as job enrichment (Niehoff, Moorman, Blakely, & Fuller, 2001), and systems approach (Senge, 1990).
Examples of successful practice of effective followership abound in libraries, in particular as they relate to libraries’ adaptation to change. When describing consolidation of service desks as a new service model at the MIT academic library, for example, Flanagan and Horowitz advise to involve all staff in planning: “This permits the service to grow in a way and at a pace in which staff can fully support and feel vested” (2000, p. 337). Library managers must be prepared to deal with the challenges they are likely to encounter in the libraries’ traditional hierarchical organizational structure. “Library leaders must resist the pressures of hierarchical thinking to focus on how they can best enable staff to grow to knowledge and commitment to librarianship,” Bechtel argues. “Empowering leadership serves the work-related needs of all employees by ensuring that they understand the significance of their tasks, have sufficient knowledge to perform well, possess a measure of control over their own work, and participate in planning and decision making”(1993, p. 352).
Defined by American Marketing Association as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large,” and rooted in the world of business, marketing has become an integral part of library management. Information being the raison d’etre of librarianship, libraries reside in a competitive market. To satisfy information needs, library customers can choose from a variety of options, be it television, Google, or social media. Library managers “need to use marketing to get people through their doors to use their programs, services, books, databases, librarians, and whatever else their want to offer,” Velasquez notes (2013, p. 145). Marketing strategies, therefore, need to be designed in a way that helps library information reach out to audiences beyond the internal library environments. Effective library marketing takes advantage of market research, market segmentation, marketing mix strategy, and marketing evaluation (Koontz, 2008).
“True marketing is also the heart of any advocacy effort that attempts to communicate the library’s value to key stakeholders and funders,” Koontz points out (2008, p. 77). Designing effective advocacy programs helps libraries raise public awareness and support from community leaders and society at large, to ensure that libraries have sufficient funding and resources necessary to sustain their work. Learning to tell the library story, celebrating National Library Week, staying informed and engaged in all current legislation impacting libraries, enlisting help of community leaders and decision makers as advocates in promoting library values, embracing diversity in advocacy efforts, developing library presence in social networks, and building relationships with local media—these are some of the effective advocacy tools libraries can employ in communicating value to their users (Public Library Association, 2009).
To support my skills in this competency, I present the following examples of my work:
- The SWOT Analysis assignment from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management)
- The Library Strategic Plans assignment from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management)
- The University of Madison Budget Case assignment from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management)
- My part of the group presentation, Library Management: Visualized Critique, from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management)
LIBR 204 SWOT Analysis assignment
The first piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency D is a SWOT analysis paper I wrote for LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). Identifying organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is the first step in effective strategic planning. In this paper, I provide a SWOT analysis of my local library, the Los Angeles Public Library. The strengths covered in this paper include collections and indexes, online services, and community support, while the areas of strategic planning, facilities, technology, and programs are indicated as needing improvement. The library should take advantage of such opportunities as population diversity, the shift in digital divide, and service awareness; it should also take into account the threats such as financial instability, competition from other public institutions for funds, and the competition libraries face from other information providers; such as bookstores and e-book retailers.
This piece of evidence showcases my understanding of the importance of SWOT analysis in the public library planning.
LIBR 204 Library Strategic Plans assignment
The second piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency D is a Library Strategic Plans assignment from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). In this paper, I conduct comparative analysis of strategic plans of two types of libraries—a public library (Library of Congress) and an academic library (University of Southern California Libraries). My multi-criteria analysis reveals both similarities and differences between the strategic plans of two different library types, including mission and vision statements, strategic goals, supporting strategies/activities, values, external factors, and time frames.
From this assignment, I learned about the importance of library strategic plans as a process in which an information organization positions itself to achieve success over a certain period of time and its role in management of both academic and public libraries.
LIBR 204 University of Madison Budget Case assignment
The third piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency D is a University of Madison Budget Case assignment from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). In this paper, I developed two budget proposals for an academic library based on the current library budget and the projected enrollment for the upcoming fiscal year, and provided justification including the basis for the cost projected for all modifications I had made in the proposed new budgets. The first budget proposal (Part I) is based on the projected five percent increase on the base allocation. The second budget (Part II) is expanded to provide means for a new collection digitization project, at an additional 5-7 percent increase.
This piece of evidence showcases my budget planning skills, as well as short-term planning skills, in academic libraries.
LIBR 204 Library Management: Visualized Critique (my part of the group presentation)
The fourth piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency D is my part of the Library Management: Visualized Critique group presentation from LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). In this project, I worked with three of my classmates to prepare a visualized critique of library management. Each of us individually visited a library of our choice, documented our observations as they related to the visual clues and publicly accessible information of the library management style, and produced recommendations on what would be a significant improvement to the library and management as it provides service to the community. We then worked as a team to reach consensus on the ten most critical improvements. Finally, we presented our recommendations to the professor in an online collaborate session. My role in the project was to produce three improvement recommendations, while serving as a leader of the group. My recommendations, in particular, included (1) the solar power installation and (2) the multilinqual website implementation in the Los Angeles Public Library, as well as (3) a complete renovation of the North Hollywood LAPL branch.
During my work on this assignment, I gained knowledge about current trends and best practices in library management, learned to develop long-term strategic improvement recommendations, and met with the local librarians. My work as a leader of the group project provided me with the opportunity to develop and finesse my leadership skills.
Managing information service organizations in the 21st century requires both traditional and innovative skill sets. As communication and digital technologies become more pervasive, libraries will “become less about physical access to information” and “more likely to be valued for their importance to the community—as gathering places for civic, educational, and social engagement,” Ptacek predicts in his vision of Library 2020 (2013, p. 118). Through my work in the MLIS program, I have learned to appreciate the wide spectrum of library management theories and practices, including leadership theories, long-term and short-term planning, budget development, marketing to diverse audiences, and advocacy techniques—the skills that will help me become a successful library administrator in the competitive information environment.
Block, P. (1996). Stewardship: Choosing service over self-interest. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Cawthorne, J. E. (2010, March). Leading from the middle of the organization: An examination of shared leadership in academic libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(2), 151-157.
Flanagan, P., & Horowitz, L. R. (2000, September). Exploring new service models: Can consolidating public service points improve response to customer needs? The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 26(5), 329-338.
Jordan, M. W. (2013). Strategic planning. In D.L. Velasquez (Ed.). Library management 101: A practical guide (pp. 77-90). Chicago, IL : ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.
Kelley, R. E. (1992). The power of followership: How to create leaders people want to follow, and followers who lead themselves. New York, NY: Doubleday/Currency.
Koontz, C. (2008). Marketing—the driving force of your library. In K. Haycock, & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts (pp. 77-86). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
McCoy, T. J. (1996). Creating an “open book” organization—where employees think & act like business partners. New York, NY: AMACOM.
Niehoff, B. P., Moorman, R. H., Blakely, G., & Fuller, J. (2001, March). The Influence of empowerment and job enrichment on employee loyalty in a downsizing environment. Group & Organization Management, 26, 93-113.
Pearce, C. L., & Conger, J. A. (2003). Shared leadership: Reframing the hows and whys of leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Ptacek, B. (2013). IV: Place, chapter 18. In J. Janes (Ed.). Library 2020: today’s leading visionaries describe tomorrow’s library. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Public Library Association. (2009, September). 52 Ways to Make a Difference—Public Library Advocacy Throughout the Year. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/sites/ala.org.advocacy/files/content/advleg/advocacyuniversity/frontline_advocacy/frontline_public/52ways.pdf
Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
Velasquez, D. L. (2013). Introduction to management. In D.L. Velasquez (Ed.). Library management 101: A practical guide (pp. 1-8). Chicago, IL : ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.
Velasquez, D. L. (2013). Marketing. In D.L. Velasquez (Ed.). Library management 101: A practical guide (pp. 145-160). Chicago, IL : ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.