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Formulas: Walsh assignment #4



Formulas for Management: Exploring Management Models for Science Librarians

Maura K. Walsh Emporia State University

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


Abstract This research plan envisions a document analysis of current publications that examine management models for science libraries. It outlines a proposal consisting of a structured interview of a specially targeted expert panel from three universities that will help define the search terms for the document analysis that follows. It is hoped that the study would not only clarify what material is available currently, but also highlight any gaps in current documentation in this field in order to show which future research could be most beneficial.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


Introduction Although the library of brick and mortar still clearly exists, external factors are causing a paradigm shift from a more traditional hierarchical management structure to a networking-style, flatter system. In this current state it becomes increasingly important to have a clear picture of our preferred future, where we want our libraries to go and how we want them to develop. Perhaps management has never had such a crucial role. Nowhere is that more evident than in the academic library. One type of library within the academic world is the science library. These libraries have special operations and circumstances that make them distinct. They serve a unique subset within the university community and they have a heightened need for timely materials. The spiraling costs of electronic journals and database access can also play particular havoc in science departments where historical documents are of little or limited use in educating today’s students or supporting faculty research and development. This research project will attempt to find out which management models being advocated in professional writings are being adapted by science librarians in academic libraries, and whether they are actually gaining access to the information they need. Library management, which includes planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the day to day working of the library, is key to the smooth operation of the library and its ability to serve its patrons. A document analysis based on the important input from librarians actually working as science librarians will help make this assessment of current trends a valuable tool for these professionals and may even highlight some of the needs that are not currently being covered in professional literature, thus pointing the way for valuable future research that may help management and leadership choose

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4 the best options in management.


Research Questions How do contemporary publications meet needs for management in science libraries? What do science librarians consider the most important needs in management practices? Are there any gaps between what is published, what is reaching the librarians and/or what is wanted?

Limitations This study will not include an exhaustive selection of librarians but only a carefully selected expert panel from three different universities’ academic libraries. Also, due to the expressed need to find what is readily available and being discussed in publications currently, the documents analyzed will be limited to those published in the last two years (2006 – 2008).

Literature Review Although I have not been able to find as many sources as I wished that pertain only to the world of science libraries, my evaluation of this is twofold. First, the issues being examined here do not necessarily pertain only to the science library. Management models like those discussed in Hatch (2006) can also be applied to science libraries. Going outside of the narrower confines of this world may prove to be advantageous and allow us to examine these management issues with fresh eyes by exploring them using viewpoints more common to other fields. Second, perhaps this paucity of material is a sign that the present study is all the more worthwhile in a fast changing area and will therefore be useful to many who are at present working in science libraries or as science librarians. Kurt Lewin judged that ‘there is nothing so

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


practical as a good theory” (Hatch, 2006 p. 295). Perhaps adapting or expanding these theories will give new tools to librarians. In Academic Libraries: Should Strategic Planning be Renewed? (2007)Brown and Gonzalez examine some of these same management questions through the lens of strategic planning and conclude that very little empirical evidence has been shared and that seeking the advice of experts is one of the few reference sources available. The very interesting Leadership of Academic Libraries: A Literature Review by Weiner (2003) addresses the characteristics of leadership in academic libraries. She examines questions of philosophy and vision, the bigger picture as it were, without ignoring the more mundane like staff recruitment and serials management. She states that “it is clear that many aspects have not been addressed and that a comprehensive body of cohesive, evidence-based research is needed. There is a dearth of published studies or dissertations that relate leadership to effectiveness of library directors, their organizations, or outcomes” (Weiner, 2003, p.18) Business management models also give a glimpse of intriguing ideas that could be translated to the library world. At the 25th conference of the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) in 2004, Professor Prof. Egbert Gerryts, the Director of Academic Information Service at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a longtime member of and advocate for IATUL recommended using the Balanced Scorecard. This is a business management system designed to allow users to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. It allows the internal processes to be balanced with external outcomes in order to promote improvement. He advocated it as a model to ‘lead and manage library transformation, the most important challenge in

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4 contemporary librarianship’ (ISTL, 2004). Examining listserves and blogs shows a certain amount of inquietude about some of the very practical subjects involved in science library management like fundraising, collection development, managing budgets, communicating with the greater academic community and evaluating and affording electronic sources.


Population and Setting Three universities have been chosen as representative of different fields and levels of science education in the hopes of being able to assemble a useful expert panel to provide the input needed for the document analysis that will follow. The first libraries are at a large state university (39,524 students) in an urban setting with medical and dental schools, aeronautical and engineering programs and traditional hard sciences at both graduate and undergraduate levels. In 2004 it was awarded the Academic Libraries Award, which recognizes the top university research library in the country. There are 47 science librarians employed at the university. The second library is also a large state university (23,655 students) with important science programs in agriculture and veterinary medicine. It has specialized libraries for both of these programs. It is located in a rather isolated rural community and has 23 science librarians. The third is a private liberal arts undergraduate college with one of the highest acceptance rates in the nation for their students in graduate programs in science, including medical and engineering schools. It is a small college (1,500 students) with a large library that employs 19 librarians, all officially classified as generalists, but three specifically serve the science departments.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4 Methodology


From the universities described above a representative selection of librarians will be chosen to form the expert panel. Every effort will be made to select librarians who come from distinct fields within the sciences and different levels within the libraries’ organizations. After preselecting these subjects, they will each be sent an email outlining the study’s objectives and structure and inviting their participation. This method of approach is an attempt to make the librarians feel more comfortable with the interview, give them time to consider the topic without exertion and assure them that their responses will have great significance. After obtaining consent from them, a short structured interview of 5 -10 minutes will be conducted by telephone. This information will be directly entered into an Excel program set up to be able to capture that data and with spaces for impromptu comments. Using a headset will make it easy to enter the data while conducting the interview. The publications sited by the librarians will become the basis of the literature review, although it is also important not to limit it to those publications. Using the key words and phrases from the specialty publications cited by the librarians it will then be fairly simple to cross check and see if other academic publications in business or library science may also contain useful information about management.

Hopefully the results, which will be both quantitative and qualitative, will indicate what further research may be most useful to these librarians as well as giving a good picture of the information currently available to them. Some of the key publications that may be useful to this study are listed in Appendix B.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


Research Schedule and budget Timeline 2008 Write research proposal Contact target subjects Conduct interviews Compile results Conduct document analysis Analyze findings Write first draft Revise Submit for approval May June July Augus t Septe mber

Since I anticipate doing all the work myself, I have not budgeted any costs. I hope to submit the results to Cindy Stewart Kaag, head of Science Libraries at Washington State University, to see if she considers it would be useful to publish or as the basis for another investigation.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


References ACRL, (2007, May 15). Science and technology section. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Publications: STS Signal Web site: ALA, (2008, January 31). ALA Mailing List Service. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from ACRL Science & Technology Section Discussion List Web site: Anonymous, (2008, March 31 ). Your Science Librarians' Blog. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Web site: Bellinger, G (2004). Leadership & management: A structural perspective. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Mental Model Musings Web site: Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., & Tight, M. (2006). How to research. Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK: Open University Press. Brown,.A., & Blake, B.A. (2007). Academic libraries: Should strategic planning be renewed?. Technical Services Quarterly. v. 24 no. 3, 1-14. Dupuis , J (2008, March 31 ). Confessions of a science librarian . Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Web site: Hatch, M. J. (2006). Organization theory: Modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4 ISTL, (2004). Library management in a changing environment: 25th IATUL Conference. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Conference reports Web site: ISTL, (2006, July 5). Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from Archives Web site: Partington, D. (2002). Essential skills for management research. London, UK: Sage Publications.


Weiner, S (2003).Leadership of academic libraries: A literature review. Education Libraries. v. 26 no. 2, 5-18.

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


Appendix A Structured interview protocol: What management issues concern you? What professional publications do you read? Which publications have you found to be most helpful? Are there any noticeable gaps in available management information? Are there any authors in the field that you would particularly recommend?

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4


Appendix B • Professional JournalsUrban Academic Librarian • • • • • • Training and Education Teacher Librarian Library Trends College & Research Libraries Library Management Library Administration & Management • Library & Information Science Research • • • Journal of Library Administration College & Undergraduate Libraries • The Journal of Academic Librarianship Librarianship • International Library Review • American Libraries • Advanced Technology Libraries • • • • • • • College & Research Libraries News Evidence Based Library and Information Practice British Journal of Academic Librarianship Science & Technology Libraries Resource Sharing and Information Networks Quarterly Bulletin of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists Medical Reference Services Quarterly New Review of Academic

These titles or similar would be the kind of books included in the literature review:

Formulas: Walsh assignment #4 • Perspectives, Insights, & Priorities: 17 Leaders Speak Freely of Librarianship, Norman Horrocks


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Beyond the Basics: A Management Guide for Library and Information Professionals, G. Edward Evans

Learn Library Management A Practical Study Guide for New or Busy Managers in Libraries and Other Information Agencies, Bob Pymm and Damon D. Hickey

Strategic Planning and Management for Library Managers, Joseph Matthews

Managing in the Information Age, Ann E. Prentice