Change Leadership Styles and Behaviors in Academic Libraries

Change Leadership Styles and Behaviors in Academic Libraries

John Kennedy Lewis (Salve Regina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch451


Academic libraries in the 21st century are in the midst of constant and tumultuous change caused by advances in technology, shifting demands of faculty and students, declining budgets, and transformations in publishing and in other methods of acquiring scholarly research. Librarians working in this environment must cope with continuous change while still providing research support to their primary clientele - faculty and students. This chapter addresses the research on change leadership styles and behaviors employed by leaders in academic libraries today. Included in the chapter are reinforcement and transactional leadership, consultative and participatory leadership, participatory and transformational leadership, shared leadership and self-leadership. The chapter concludes with a review of areas in need of future research.
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Academic libraries have been involved in a process of continuous change over the past thirty years due to the impact of technology on all aspects of librarianship. From the automated card catalog, web based database searching, remote off-campus access, streaming video, downloadable e-books, and patron driven acquisition, advances in technology have continually affected and changed the way librarians perform their jobs. These technological advances have created numerous pressures on librarians ranging from shifting job responsibilities to frequent library reorganizations.

The Disruptive Innovation Era

Libraries remained hierarchical organizations well into the 1960’s. The major shift in academic library organization was the direct result of technological advances. The introduction of the computer to the library workplace was the type of “disruptive innovation” discussed by Christensen (2003) in his seminal work “The Innovator’s Solution.” Academic libraries adopted two new technologies which changed the workplace for librarians: first the online public access catalog (OPAC), followed by online databases. The OPAC changed the way patrons located print materials in the library. It also changed the way librarians performed their duties. By the late 1990’s the majority of academic libraries had switched over to online access of databases (Kenan, 2012). An academic librarian without technological skill cannot function in the 21st century academic library.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transformational Leadership: Transformational leadership occurs when leaders and followers interact in a manner that raises both to higher levels of motivation and morality. Typically transformational leadership consists of four behaviors displayed by leaders: idealized influence (charisma), intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration and inspirational motivation.

Consultative Leadership: Also known as democratic leadership, in this style leaders talk to their followers and get their input before making a decision.

Transactional Leadership: Transactional leadership occurs when the leader rewards or disciplines the follower depending on their level of performance. Transactional leadership relies on contingent rewards or on active/passive forms of management by exception.

Participatory Leadership: Participatory leaders allow their followers some input into the decision-making process and often delegate some decision making to their followers.

Academic Librarians: Academic librarians are those library employees who have obtained a Masters in Library Science or a Masters in Information Science and quite often a second Master’s degree in a subject discipline. Occasionally some academic librarians also possess a PhD in a subject discipline as well.

Contingency Theories of Leadership: There are various contingency theories of leadership but they include Path-Goal theory, Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership theory, Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid, and Fiedler’s Contingency Model of Leader Effectiveness.

Situational Leadership: Situational leadership, originally called the Life Cycle Theory of Leadership, by its progenitors Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, proposes that there is no best method of leadership. Instead leadership depends on the situation.

Academic Library: An academic library is a library associated with a college or university which supports the mission of the institution and the research needs of its faculty, staff and students. Although it is possible that a purely virtual library could exist, no brick and mortar institution has yet taken that step. Instead, most academic libraries consist of a physical space (usually quite large but on occasion as small as one room) and a staff of librarians and other employees that manage the building and its collections.

Shared Leadership: Also called distributed leadership, it may be practiced in situations where the management of an organization is too complicated for a single individual.

Academic Library Director: An academic library director is the person designated by an institution of higher education to manage a library building and its staff. Depending on the size of the institution and library this person may be designated a director, dean, provost or vice-president.

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