Foundational Readings: a management perspective on change

In which this heat wave gets to my brain, the gamer takes a back seat,  and then I ramblog on about management ideas.

One of the things that stood out in our foundational readings was not just how far we’ve come in the past couple decades, rather how far we need to go just to catch up to where we should be. Perhaps that is why we are all here in this class: looking for ways to catch our libraries (and ourselves) up with all the current technologies, while anticipating necessary changes for the future. While written over two decades ago, the piece by Buckland (1992) seemed to predict the transition to the Electronic Library and the types of service that we could provide. Casey and Savastinuk (2007) take it a step further, exploring not only what Library 2.0 is, but mapping out a plan for the future as well. So how do we get there?

The majority of the time since Buckland’s piece was published, I have spent in some sort of management role in the retail/restaurant sector. I have come up with the following observations about change. First, change is necessary. Even if not everyone agrees with those that make decisions, even if the change does not produce the desired results (think of epic fails like Apple Maps), it’s good to shake things up from time to time. Second, change has to be managed correctly. What exactly does that entail? For starters, our libraries (and other organizations) need to have a vision and a clear mission. This needs to be the foundation to all decisions that will be made. In the realm of libraries, we are lucky in that we already have a built-in mission statement. As Buckland states in his introduction:

Library services have two bases:

the role of library service is to facilitate access to documents; and
the mission of a library is to support the mission of the institution or the interests of the population served.

Interpreting these two general statements for any given situation provides the foundations for effective library service.

Casey and Savastinuk explore this much further in Chapter 3, but I feel in the absence of a library-specific mission statement, we can always fall back on this. When managing people, and addressing changes, I have always come across resistance. Anything your organization does should draw from the mission statement. Why are we getting a Twitter account? Because we need to support the interests of the population served. And our population served wants frequent updates via social media. Why are we collaborating with outside vendors to use their products? Won’t that run our library into the ground? No, our role is to facilitate access to documents, and sometimes these are the best means to access obscure documents for our users. They will keep coming back. We are, as Casey and Savastinuk put it, “keeping our current customers satisfied and reaching out to serve the broader market.”

Third point I want to bring up about change involves how much change is occurring at once. If we wait to test the waters before implementing change, we run the risk of having to play catch up once we implement these changes. We also run the risk of larger amounts of resistance from both our staff and our customers if the change is either too drastic or affects a wide range of services being offered. Casey and Savastinuk bring up Constant Change. From my experience, this is something that only works well if they changes are meaningful and have clear direction towards improving your organization. Seven years ago, I worked for an up-and-coming company. Over the course of two years, they went from having one store to nearly two-dozen locations. Change happened, and it happened a lot. The problem was that most of these changes were simply reactionary, a quick fix to some one-off that occurred at one of the locations. They weren’t well thought out, and usually did not have a positive impact on most locations. Changes like these have immediate and long-term effects. First there is a disruption to the way we operate. While usually small, they can affect the service we provide our clients. Second, if changes are not meaningful, any future change is bound to be met with resistance, and a “here we go again” attitude.

If we already lay the ground work for Library 2.0 through our mission statement and already have made some meaningful changes (getting our libraries to their current level of technology usage), then we shouldn’t have much trouble taking the next steps to providing a broader spectrum of services to our clients. For libraries who have not begun this journey, I plan on exploring the idea of Leveling Up our Libraries in a follow up post.



Ready to play

“Thumbs up, let’s do this!” – Leeroy Jenkins

Hey everyone, and welcome to the Fall Semester. I am excited to be in this class, learning more from @michael and @kyle. I’m a born-again gamer who geeks out over reading Henry Jenkins and James Paul Gee.

I have recently discovered, and am playing around with, Mumble and Vent: two voice-chat systems used in online gaming. I’m  having a little difficulty with them, probably due to my computer’s limitations, but hope to find a way (or new ways) to incorporate them into the library realm.

I spent this summer trying to recover from my spring (the semester that must not be named). Thankfully this summer I attended the SLA conference in San Diego, and received a much-needed boost in energy from the experience. Looking forward to getting to know all of you, learning, and having fun.

-James (and yes, the blog name is in reference to both my love of video games, and one of my new favorite books.)


Cline, E. (2011). Ready Player One. New York, NY: Broadway Paperbacks.