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Professional associations: promoting leadership in a career.


"Leadership, much as we admire it in the abstract, is something we suspect

in the specific" (White, 1987, p. 68). This article examines the role of the

major American professional associations and organizations in developing

leadership among professionals in academic and research libraries. The

associations under discussion include the American Library Association (ALA),

Special Libraries Association (SLA), Medical Library Association (MLA), Online

Computer Library Center (OCLC), Council on Library Resources (CLR), Association

of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Research Libraries Group (RLG).

The literature and mission statements of these associations offer some

clues as to their roles. The ALA attempts to "promote and improve library

service"; ARL, which is restricted to institutional memberships, works

"to initiate and develop plans for strengthening research library resources

and services in support of higher education and research"; and CLR, a

private foundation established in 1956, focuses on solving library problems,

particularly those of academic and research libraries,via grants and

contracts and educational services (McChesney, 1984). MLA (Medical

Library Association, 1996) fosters excellence in leadership and professional

achievement in health sciences librarianship. And the SLA (Special

Libraries Association, 1996) vision is to be known as the leading organization

in the information industry.


Leadership became an increasingly prominent topic in library literature

during the 1980s. Previously, the topic had been covered in occasional

articles dealing with the importance of leadership in general, the

qualities of leadership, the dearth of sound leadership, and gender differences

related to leadership. Searching Library Literature for 1975-1981,

Riggs and Sabine (1988) found fewer than five entries containing the

words "leader" or "leadership." "For some reason, persons holding responsible

positions in libraries have done little to articulate the importance

of leadership" (p. 190). The importance of leadership became

recognized so acutely that a Library journal editorial lamented the scarcity

of leaders in the profession (White, 1987, p. 68). The 1987-88 ALA

conference was the first to emphasize leadership in the 112-year history

of the organization:

Speculations about why the topic had achieved such national prominence

centered on the perceived crisis in the production of political

leaders and the greater emphasis on accountability. Similar fears

about the production of library leaders, as well as the changing library

environment, and uncertainties about the future of librarianship were

offered as reasons for the increased attention to the topic in the library

field. (Gertzog, 1989, pp. 2-3)

Libraries in the 90's (Riggs & Sabine, 1988) is a compilation of interviews

with library leaders at the 1988 ALA Midwinter Conference. Participants

addressed the rapid changes that libraries have faced during the last

twenty-five years and the need for a comparably rapid response by libraries. New

technologies have changed library work and created a need for ongoing

education. Professionals must assess their personal strengths, develop

leadership skills, understand how library users learn, and foster creativity

in their staffs. Declining collections budgets coincide with the increasing

demand for electronic resources and the rise of "value-added" services

for a fee. There is a growing demand for strategic thinking and planning

by library leaders and managers and their professional staff and for

transformative leadership.

Leaders in Libraries (Sheldon, 1991) applies the management and leadership

concepts of the 1970s and 1980s to the library community Interviews

were conducted with directors of major public or academic libraries,

nationally recognized school librarians, executive directors of major

library organizations, library school deans, state librarians, and other

prominent members of the profession. "While the interviews did not

elicit a definitive understanding of what distinguishes leaders from

non-leaders, they did reinforce Bennis' contention that leadership can be and

is exercised at every level of an organization. In most cases, the ability

to exercise leadership has more to do with attitude than actual circumstances

of the environment" (Sheldon, 1991, p. 82).

Management and leadership concepts which have evolved and remain

the driving force in business and government are readily transferable

to the library. Successful leaders must establish short- and long-term

goals for the library along with specific workable objectives to accomplish

them. They develop effective programs, assess and restructure their

organizations as needed, and develop sound policies for the guidance of

their library administration. Leaders earn support from staff and constituents

by building a record of responsiveness and develop an effective

group of advisors through whom to receive information (Williams, 1988.

p. 103). Leadership can start anywhere, anytime, and even informal opportunities

provide valuable experience. "Leading from below" means

taking the risk to begin and guide new and possibly risky projects, mentoring

others, and working in teams where one can exercise these qualities

(Mech, 1996).

During the last two decades, academic institutions have faced continuously

rising costs of resources, reduced budgets, loss of status within

the institution, new academic expectations, and transitions from manual

to highly technological integrated library systems (Newman, 1995, p. 94).

As the structure of higher education organizations becomes flatter and

team-based, librarians have the option to get involved in campus-wide

arenas as a leadership opportunity. The administration of any organization

requires leadership by all parties involved at some level. In campus-level

roles, librarians may be able to present themselves to faculty and

administrators as neutral on many issues and serve as arbitrators or


Librarians provide leadership by the very nature of the job by serving

as a guide to scholars, students, and other leaders as they seek information.

"Librarians lead by providing leads . . . [and] librarians play a

key role in leading others to the sources of knowledge for understanding

leadership" (Spitzberg, 1992, pp. 381, 389). Librarians must remember

that they are educators in the broadest sense and their participation in

the administration and organization of the institution as a whole is an

important ingredient (Mech, 1996).

In comparing librarians with their counterparts throughout academia,

business, and government, Mech (1996) suggests that library professionals

must be concerned with the same career management strategies. They

need basic skills, ambition, and a career vision beyond the library.

Administrative support and encouragement for librarians' expanded leadership

roles is essential, and the classic "other duties as assigned- phrase

in a job description may open up unique opportunities for developing

one s career. The advent and emergence of the "digital library" and the

increased need for Internet training for faculty, students, and staff has

merged the role of the computing center with the library. This gives the

librarian another opportunity to cross outside the library boundary and

make contacts with other campus departments.


"Leadership is like the Abominable Snowman, whose footprints are

everywhere but who is nowhere to be seen" (Bennis, 1986, p. 20). The

inherent importance of leadership lacks an obvious and recognized tradition

in the library setting, unlike business or bureaucracies where leaders

are scrutinized and their performance quantitatively evaluated individually

and against their peers. Prior to recent downsizing in academic

libraries, most libraries followed long-established methods and time tested

values to serve their clientele. For libraries to flourish today and tomorrow,

the profession must identify and foster appropriate leadership skills

and expertise among its members.

Leadership as a concept encompasses a mammoth body of literature.

The online catalog at the University of California at Berkeley lists over

800 book tides on the subject. A search of the ABI/Inform database for

1971-1996 identified over 6,650 citations under leadership; a similar search

of PsycINFO (1967-1996) located over 6,300 citations. Over 5,000 references

for books, articles, and preprints were surveyed for the revision of

Stogdill's Handbook of Leadership (Bass, 1981, p. xiv). Bennis and Nanus

(1985) determined that decades of academic analysis have produced over

350 definitions of leadership.

In organizational terms, leadership is a focus of group activity and

process, the exercise of influence, a demonstration of power relations, a

differentiated role within an organization, and as the initiation of a role

structure. Influence derives from strength of personality and its effects,

the art of inducing cooperation and compliance, an action or behavior, a

form of persuasion and inspiration, an instrument of goal achievement,

and an emerging effect of personal interaction (Bass, 1981, pp. 7-14).

Successful leadership requires sound management of human and financial

resources, understanding and incorporating new technologies, far-sighted

strategic planning, definitive problem solving, and useful innovation.

It combines the managerial skills of budgeting and empirical auditing

with the infusion of new values and a new perspective. "The basic

difficulty in definition stems from whether one looks at leadership broadly,

considering it an occurrence of some modification of behavior or performance

by a group due to the interaction of one or more members of the

group: or whether one restricts the definition to the personal traits associated

with leadership" (Mobley, 1989, p. 43).

Regardless of circumstances, leaders must know the culture of the

workplace to gain a sense of continuity and significance as they relate to

the workforce. Leaders hold a vision while questioning the mission. They

need the opportunity and ability to ponder and resolve the fundamental

issues of what must be accomplished and how. The workforce is directed

toward the envisioned goal; the leader keeps a watchful eye on forces that

could impede the progress toward that goal. "Leadership is a matter of

drawing out from individuals those impulses, motives, and efforts which

represent them most truly" (Riggs, 1982, p. ix). Leaders must ferret out

the truth no matter what prejudice or misinformation is provided by followers

or colleagues.


In the 1930's and the 1940's, research by psychologists on the subject

of leadership looked for the common traits that made up successful

leaders, including both personality and intellectual qualities.

Those who were thought to possess key traits could then participate

in leadership programs to concentrate and improve upon these selected

traits. This suggests that the ability to lead was inherent and

that leadership training could only benefit those who seem to possess

the selected traits. The trait theory has changed over the years

and some researchers have failed to find one personality trait or set

of qualities that could be used to discriminate leaders from

nonleaders. (Fitzmaurice, 1992, p. 548)

Many bestselling books of the 1980s lauded the preeminence of people-centered

leadership (Williams, 1988). Lowry (1988) presents six basic

theories of leadership differentiated as personal traits, situations,

organizations, power, vision, and ethical assessment. His first two theories are

most applicable to library environs.

The personal trait theory presupposes that leadership is instinctive

and derives from a set of traits more than from learned abilities, and that

only some individuals possess the specific personality traits that develop

into leadership behavior. Those traits associated with leadership ability

include aggressiveness, desire to excel, cooperativeness, energy and enthusiasm,

humor, intelligence, judgment, originality, persuasiveness, popularity,

and sociability.

The situational leadership theory presumes that effective leaders

develop their style to meet the requirements of the situation and the workers.

A constantly changing situation can be one of the volatile and

unpredictable aspects of a library professional's career.

The personal characteristics of the leader and of the followers are highly

stable when compared to the characteristics of the situation, which may be

radically altered by the addition or loss of members, changes in

interpersonal relationships, changes in goals, competition of extra-group

influences and the like . . . . It is not especially difficult to find

persons who are leaders. It is quite another matter to place these persons

in situations where they will be able to function as leaders. (Riggs,

1982, p. x)

The role of the "followers" is a major part of the environment. "Leadership

is viewed functionally, as a process, and is associated with a learnable set of

behavioral practices . . . . Leadership always functions in relation to other

persons and in a relationship between the leaders and the followers" (Albritton

& Shaughnessy, 1989, p. xvii).

Sound management is as important as inherent leadership abilities when

Giving direction to support staff. "Studies have shown that effective leadership

may account for only 10 to 15 percent of the variability in unit performance"

(Williams, 1988, p. 102). Managers work within carefully defined boundaries,

with known quantities, using well established techniques to accomplish planned

ends. The means are stressed ahead of the ends. "A look at the literature of

leadership theory and research reveals a heavy focus on what sounds more like

effective supervision than what most of us would call leadership" (Euster,

1989, p. 6). And leaders are always in shorter supply than managers.

The traits of an individual leader are supplemented by the influences of the

situation. "Few would maintain that `situation' itself produces leadership.

Apposite circumstances may be necessary, but they hardly seem sufficient. Most

theorists now consider the person and situation within the context of the

interactive effect of both" (Gertzog, 1989, p. 62). Library administrators in

the future will have to combine a people-centered human resources style with a

creative and artistic approach to management (Newman, 1995, p. 97).


Library schools may be an appropriate place to lay a foundation for

training in leadership skills, but individuals with appropriate traits must also

learn by example and observation. Williams (1988) notes that the mentoring

process strengthens inherent traits and learned skills. Contemporary research

examines the leader or potential leader in the context of his/her environment,

including organizational climate, peer group, subordinates, supervisors, and

work challenges combined with the belief that leaders can be developed. "Other

students of leadership . . . call leadership not a gift but a learned

talent . . . . Those who embrace the opposite position, that leadership is

inborn, contend that leadership training . . . teaches nothing more than the

skills of good management" (Gertzog. 1989, p. 63).

Four personal qualifications are central to the development of leaders

among academic librarians: (1) a first-rate mind with ability to solve

problems, (2) solid undergraduate preparation in any of a variety of

disciplines, (3) proven managerial abilities since even most entry-level

research library positions now require some degree of management of either

people or resources, and (4) an intellectual commitment to research

librarianship (Battin, 1983, p. 23).

Leadership training is . . . ineffective in changing the behavior

of participants. Leadership training aimed not directly at

leadership behavior itself, but at providing diagnostic skills for

the identification of the nature of the situation and the

behaviors appropriate to it, appears to offer considerable potential

for the improvement of leadership effectiveness. (Albritton &

Shaughnessy, 1989, p. 12)

Gertzog (1989) determined that the task of teaching leadership skills

encompasses four areas which have been found to show improvement in

manager effectiveness. First, select more appropriate people by assessing

work to determine relevant skills, assessing candidates through tests,

interviews, and situational exercises, and studying candidates' previous

managerial history. Second, training in conceptual skills, problem analysis,

forecasting, planning and decision-making, and creativity enhancement.

Third, situational engineering to fit the situation to the skills and

Abilities of the available leader, perhaps by increasing or decreasing their

authority. And fourth, organizational development and leadership improvement

by working with consultants to improve relationships between leaders

and subordinates and to promote team building.

Even those who believe that leadership derives primarily from personality

acknowledge that these traits can be developed. "There are pragmatic

reasons for researchers and consultants in the field to embrace the

idea that leaders can be identified and trained" (Lowry, 1988, p. 24).

Leadership development is a combination of assessing strengths and weaknesses,

evaluating the immediate surroundings, and determining the needs

of the situation. The identification of a mentor, establishing a mentor

relationship, and the ongoing benefits of mentoring are critical. Women

and minorities, traditionally omitted from top leadership positions within

the library, may benefit most from a strong mentor relationship. Bernstein

and Leach's (i985) ALA study on career development of librarians indicated

that librarians felt that the need for interpersonal skills training

escalated with their increased seniority on the job. Professional association

activities ranked second (after participation in workshops and seminars)

as a preferred professional development activity. "In the library

field, the need to develop leaders, and the ability to do so, has been

recognized . . . . More recently the emphasis has changed-to an examination

of the leader or potential leader in his or her environment, including

organizational climate, peers, subordinates, bosses, and work challenges"

(Fitzmaurice, 1992, p. 548). Managers and leaders have different

attitudes toward their goals, careers, relationships with others, and with

themselves. Managers can be trained to manage but leaders must be

mentored (Zaleznik, 1977).


In Libraries in the 90's (Riggs & Sabine, 1988), active leaders provide

opinions on the connection between leadership development and the

role played by professional associations in fostering its growth. They suggest

the development of valuable contacts through state and national associations,

demonstrating the willingness to accept responsibilities

through voluntary committee work, learning to work in groups and chair meetings,

participating in workshops regularly, "paying your dues" by volunteering

for "scut work," and learning as you go. Other suggestions are to

associate with leaders through the major professional organizations and

learn leadership skills by direct contact (Riggs & Sabine, 1988, pp. 11422).

Librarians new to the field may puzzle over the variety of choices in

professional organizations and their educational and committee work

opportunities. A mentor relationship can prove invaluable for a new

librarian embarking on professional activities.

Neophyte librarians are justly confused as to what associations they

should join, considering the large number of possibilities. Choices

will probably be made on the basis of the individuals professional

concerns and which organizations seem to best meet his needs, and

ultimately, his purse. However, considering the role of library associations

in society and the benefits derived by the profession from

their existence, membership in professional associations is a prerequisite

for professional growth and development. (McChesney,

1984, p. 223)

There is an apparent reciprocal relationship between leadership roles in

the employing institution and in professional organizations. -Over the

years the vast majority of ALA, presidents have been directors of whatever

library unit employed them . . . . ALA members appear to want their presidents

to be the head of a large library institution or library education

program" (Wiegand & Steffens, 1988, p. 18).


Leadership development became a focus of attention for most major

professional associations in the early 1980s. This rising interest occurred

in part as a response to the political, social, and economic crises which

began in the 1960s and caused many people to lose faith in our national

institutions and questioned the credibility of our leaders (Bennis & Nanus,

1985). Gregor (1989) provided an overview of the activities of the ARL,

CLR, LC, OCLC, RLG, particularly the Management Review and Analysis

program begun by ARL in the 1970s, and discussed the leadership role of

these organizations in relation to technology assessment and development.

The Academic Library Management Intern Program, established by

the Council on Library Resources in 1973, created an opportunity for

professional mentorship (Williams, 1988, p. 109). CRL used a $900,000

grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to fund its human resources

program entitled "Leadership Development for Managing New Information

Technologies" which supported models and innovations for developing

leaders who can recognize technological opportunities, make wise

investment decisions, and control information technology (Council on

Library Resources, 1994, p. 1). Another focus is helping professionals

learn how to work with library users to create, maintain, and manage the

electronic services by which they access information (Council on Library

Resources, 1995, p. 13).

A CLR grant awarded to the University of Missouri-Columbia helped

produce Developing Leadership Skills: A Source Book for Librarians in

support of the conviction that libraries should enable new librarians to develop

skills and achieve a broader understanding of research libraries' operations

and management, and to provide middle- and senior-level librarians

with opportunities to share their library management skills as mentors

(Albritton & Shaughnessy, 1990).

By 1988, ALA included professional leadership in their strategic planning

documents, and the decision was made to hold leadership programs

for ALA Committee and round table chairs at the Midwinter meetings.

"ALA leaders are effective. Elected leadership is responsible to adhere to

ALA mission statements. The leadership must be informed to be effective,

they must have a sense of the past and a vision of the future" (American

Library Association, 1988, p. 75).

Additional ALA-sponsored programs have reinforced the ALA commitment.

A special session of the 1996 ALA Midwinter meeting explored

leadership opportunities available to academic librarians in the wider

academic community. ACRL President Patricia Breivik promoted the

theme "Every Librarian a Leader" in 1995. C & RL News inaugurated a

guest column under the same title to cover leadership-related issues, and

the 1996 ALA Annual conference held a special ACRL presidents program

on the same topic. The ALA Library and Information Technology

Association (LITA) and the Library Administration and Management

Association (LAMA) produced a joint conference with the theme "Transforming

Libraries: Leadership and Technology for the Information Age."

The New Jersey State statewide leadership development project created a

residential tr-aining program in the early 1990s. Funded for two years,

the project trained over fifty attendees from all types of libraries and areas

of specialization who learned to assess their leadership style and

skills in team building, communication, collaboration, and goal setting (Weaver

& Burger, 1991). And the Snowbird Leadership Institute is a five-day

residential leadership training program given annually since 1990 for

nominated librarians who are relatively new in their careers. Past ALA,

presidents, library school deans, and others are on staff Curriculum

topics include self assessment; vision; creative ability; risk-taking

skills; understanding; effecting and managing change; and a leader's power and

influence (Summers & Summers, 1991).

The SLA Professional Development Program offered over forty educational

opportunities during 1994-95, including the Executive Management

program which provides advanced training to senior informational

professionals. Mid-level managers can use the resources available at the

Middle Management Institute, which offers a series of five courses, to

prepare them for leadership roles. The content of the Middle Management

course is updated regularly by the instructors to reflect the shifting

challenges of the 1990s (Bowker Annual, 1996).


The major professional associations, often in conjunction with library

schools, have established several fellowships, internships, and institutes

over the last fifty years for leadership development and training. Some

are widely available and others are more selective:

[The] majority of librarians learn their management or leadership

skills on the job--by being thrust into a situation where they have to

take some kind of action regardless of their prior training `or preparation

for the situation. . . Although this process might enable them

to deal effectively with specific situations, it often causes increased

anxiety about their performance--even to the point of withdrawal

to more comfortable, content-related jobs. The end result has been

a shortage of librarians who are willing to assume leadership positions

either in their own libraries or in professional associations.

(Weaver & Burger, 1991, p. 36)

Williams (1988) discusses the CLR grant-funded UCLA Senior Fellows

Program in UCLA's Graduate School of Library and Information Science

which began in 1982. The Fellows Program provided learning experience

through formal classroom work, research, independent study,

discussion, and cooperative assignments. There existed a persistent shortage

of distinctive professional leadership at a time of decreasing academic

resources and a growing need for effective efficient management skills.

There was a need for programs which teach, develop, and mentor identified

leadership skills over a protracted period of time. The development

of these types of programs require a continuing commitment of resources

by the institutions who seek leaders. Potential leaders also need the external

support of continuing education programs, professional recognition

programs, fellowships, and institutes.

Anderson (1985) studied the careers of individuals trained by the

UCLA Senior Fellows Program, academic librarians specifically selected

for their current and potential leadership capabilities who studied advanced

management techniques at UCLA during the summers of 1982

and 1983. The fellows graduates were compared with a control group of

ACRL personal member academic librarians and demonstrated significantly

greater professional activity, greater mobility, and more advancement

into positions of managerial responsibility. These librarians became

"leaders in academic librarianship, whether male or female, started

earlier, published more, spoke and taught more, and moved more often

than their peers. Consciously or subconsciously, by the specific way they

conducted their careers, they created their own leadership image" (Anderson,

1985, p. 331).


The Medical Library Association is developing a structured educational

policy for its continuing education activities that incorporates

guidelines for "graduate programs in health sciences librarianship . . . [that]

constructs a framework for all education programs and opportunities coordinated

by MLA" (Medical Library Association, 1997). Continuing

learning (defined as mentoring situations and self taught situations within

the workplace) and continuing education are both conditions of professional

practice for health sciences librarians. MLA suggests that a collaboration

of the workplace, professional organizations, library and information

schools, and commercial vendors and publishers, will be required

to establish a continuum of learning.

SLA presented "Competencies for Special Librarians of the 21st Century"

at the 1996 annual SLA conference. The program is a guideline of

professional and personal competencies that all information professionals

must achieve in order to ensure the viability of special librarianship.

The professional competencies relate to knowledge in information resources,

technology, management, and research, and the ability to use

these areas of knowledge in providing library services. Personal competencies

represent a set of skills, attitudes, and values which foster high

professional activities and standards (SLA Special Committee, 1996).

ALA presented the Emerging Leaders Institute in the summer of 1997.

The purpose of the institute was to train and coach librarians in conflict

resolution, decision-making, coalition building, communication, and professional

image. ALA leaders will be linked to participants for follow-up

and encouragement.

The Association of Research Libraries' Office of Management Services

offers a Training and Leadership Development Program which designs

and delivers "learning events [rather than courses] which specifically

integrate managerial and leadership concepts with immediately applicable

workplace skills" (Association of Research Libraries, 1997). These

events are held several times each year throughout the country. ARL's

Training and Staff Development Program assists academic librarians in

finding ways to develop their human resources programs. Learning-on-Site

workshops are promoted as a cost-effective approach to training and

staff development- Among their achievements are the Library of Congress

leadership curriculum (Bowker Annual, 1996). The Library of Congress

began a fifteen-month Leadership Development Program in January

1995 designed to increase the number of minorities who are prepared

to assume leadership positions in libraries (Bowker Annual, 1996).


There is no shortage of books and articles offering advice regarding

general career management. Specific targeted career advice for information

professionals is more limited. Career history and management

information for specific types of librarians (school librarians, media

specialists, law librarians) are identifiable. For academic and research

librarians, many of the resources that pertain to faculty will also apply.

Also, advice about specific areas or phases of a librarian career can be

found. However, the specifics of career paths in libraries is more scarce.

Cubberly's (1996) book, Tenure and Promotion for Academic Librarians, is

unique in offering guidance to the new academic librarians.


Schein (1977) developed a taxonomy of career anchors--those motives,

values, and self-perceived skills that shape an individual's career.

The five basic career anchors are managerial competence, technical/functional

competence, organizational security, creativity, and autonomy. Most

individuals adopt one major anchor as the guiding force in their career

while also remaining concerned in varying degrees about other motives.

The primary anchor--Schein's "master motive"--shapes the focus of participation

in career activities and motivates professional behavior.

The career anchor . . . results from an interaction between the person

with his needs and talents, and the work environment with its

opportunities and constraints . . . During the first few years of his

career, the person learns more concretely what he is good at, what

he values, and what he needs. He also learns what kinds of jobs or

work environments frustrate him because he does not have the talent,

motivation, or values needed to function in that environment.

As his experience accumulates, the person learns what kinds of jobs

or work environment to seek and which to avoid. The underlying

syndrome of motives, values, and talents now serves as a guide and

constraint on career decisions. The career anchor is more than a

motive because it now includes aspects of the self-image based on

work experiences. (Schein, 1977, pp. 52-53)

A career is impacted by societal expectations of work activities which result

in monetary and status rewards "[that) reflect both individual and

societal definitions of what is a worthwhile set of activities to pursue

throughout a lifetime" (Schein, 1977, p. 52). The individual's expectations

of the tangible and intangible rewards which a job should provide

evolve through the stages of his/her career. Personality and personal life

choices as well as the inherent qualities of the work environment work

together to determine the "fit" of a career choice.


A career paths model developed by Kong and Goodfellow (1988)

used previous studies of engineers' careers to identify four distinct stages

that a professional might go through. His examination of the primary

roles, psychological issues, and necessary skills for each stage "provides

academic librarians with a set of specified career expectations and a process

for managing activities for transition to future career stages" (Kong

& Goodfellow, 1988, p. 214).

An assessment of professional issues, organizational issues, technological

concerns, and required competencies facing academic librarians

might be useful in determining one's own stage and deciding what the

next logical step might be for advancement in the path. Professional

issues include faculty status and the professional image of the librarian.

Organizational issues include the structure and bureaucratic model where

one works, opportunities for advancement, and career guidelines within

the organization. Technological concerns derive from the increased

computerization in all areas of librarianship and the accompanying changes

in the role of the librarian. Required competencies are achieved through

continuing education and necessary retraining to master the evolving

professional role.

Initially, the professional is an apprentice, dependent upon supervisors

for training and advice. An apprentice must develop a mentor relationship

with someone who can advise on the organizational culture.

Along with establishing peer relationships, apprentices must establish a

professional identity and develop self-confidence and appropriate competencies.

In the second stage, the professional becomes a colleague. This stage

is characterized by increased self confidence, visibility, and establishment

of a reputation as a competent specialist. There is less reliance upon

supervisors and mentors, a move toward increased independence, and

development of one's own professional standards. This is an especially

critical stage in career development of individuals in many organizations.

In academic libraries, many librarians remain at this level for their entire


The third stage develops when the professional becomes the mentor,

exercising increased responsibility for influencing, directing, and developing

others, especially newer librarians. Mentors have broadened

their interests and capabilities beyond their basic jobs. The psychological

transition to the mentor stage involves a changed perspective regarding

work relationships and organizational objectives. At this stage there

are usually multiple reporting structures and the assumption of responsibility

for the work of others.

At the fourth stage, the professional becomes a sponsor and is generally

removed from day-to-day operations. He or she exerts influence in

determining the future direction of the organization. A sponsor interacts

with external elements of the organization such as library networks,

commercial services, university administration, and professional organizations.

And a sponsor directs resources toward specific goals while developing

other individuals to become future "sponsors." At this stage, a

librarian can provide leadership by formulating policies and approve

programs bringing together resources to further new ideas or new directions

of the organization or contributing significant breakthroughs in

the information field.


Developing Leadership Skills "is organized and designed to enable librarians,

regardless of their roles in an organization, to assess where they

are with respect to leadership ability, and then to take measures to improve

their effectiveness as professionals" (Albritton & Shaughnessy, 1990,

p. xix). Hoffmann (1988) evaluates career management in three parts.

The early years of a career and the first professional positions offer the

opportunity of developing networks among colleagues inside and outside

the organization, solidify the "fit" between the person and their environment

or organization, locate mentors, develop special skills not obtained

through library education, obtain challenging and visible assignments,

and learn the culture of the organization and profession. The

middle years of a career may offer the broadest professional leadership

opportunities, although the demands of family life may come into conflict

during these years. Career tasks often include making technical contributions,

developing other staff, functioning as the organization's representative

in outside groups, providing direction for the organization,

exercising power to ensure accomplishment of critical functions, representing

the organization, and sponsoring future leaders. During the later

years, there is an attempt to transfer accumulated knowledge to those

who will be developed into new leaders.

A structured career path is a valid goal, but job advancement often

occurs through chance and opportunities, a series of "accidents" that are

later rationalized as career choices. "Rules about participation in professional

associations are less codified than rules about civil service promotions

procedures, but all participants know that they exist" (Hoffmann,

1988, p. 167).

Broad experience is expected in library directors, and recommendations

from leaders in the library field which result from leadership roles

in professional organizations are an important element when seeking

academic library director positions. The process for hiring library directors,

often including year-long national searches, demonstrates a relationship

between the size of the institution and the value placed on power

within the profession when hiring a new library director. It is commonly

assumed that "rising within the ranks of one institution does not produce

the breadth and depth of experience required for creative management"

(Newman, 1995, p. 95). In addition, library directorships have traditionally

been a men's club. Women were often relegated to, and accepted

the lesser role of, committee participants rather than striving for leadership

positions. Mech (1996) suggests that all librarians must feel empowered

to exercise leadership with support from the administration to encourage

the librarians' expanded leadership roles. Individuals might take

advantage of the classic "other duties as assigned" phrase in ones' job

description as a lead-in to unique opportunities. For librarians to grow

and succeed as leaders, they need ambitions, skills, and a career or personal

vision that reaches beyond the library. Higher education is in transition,

moving from hierarchical to flatter organizational structures and

team environments. Librarians should view the concept of change as a

leadership opportunity rather than as a threat and be encouraged to take


Many academic librarians are reluctant to cross barriers into other

campus arenas where opportunities for leadership surely exist, but the

administration of the organization requires leadership from all corners.

The development of the "digital library," the merging of computing centers

and libraries, the increasing need for Internet training for faculty

and students, and the development of resource centers which go beyond

the definition of the more traditional library, give librarians an opportunity

to make contact with other campus departments. "If librarians ignore

the fact that they are educators too, they will not take advantage of

their options for wider participation" (Mech, 1996, p. 351). Leadership

opportunities vary from campus to campus and one should be aware of

the institutional culture before jumping in. But as libraries and institutions

change, the librarian must rise to the challenge to facilitate the

process. Campus-level involvement by librarians can be beneficial because

faculty and administrators may see the librarian as being neutral

on many issues.

"Sometimes we endow individuals who lead or initiate new efforts

with superhuman qualities, when in reality they are only mortals who

want to be involved and decide to take an active role" (Mech, 1996, p. 35

1). The ambitious librarian can become visible on campus, build coalitions,

take chances, volunteer, be active in academic and professional organizations,

be knowledgeable of higher education trends and issues, develop a

reputation as knowledgeable about the institution as a whole rather than

just the library, acquire a mentor, develop electronic-age skills and teach

them to others, work long hours, be assertive, and speak with authority.

For librarians desiring a leadership role, the importance of participation

in professional associations should not be overlooked:

Through membership in organizations and associations, library leaders

can be developed and practice leadership skills by virtue of holding

office. Natural or recognized leaders appreciate and utilize appropriate,

and sometimes overlapping, organizational arenas to exert

influence. Service on boards, committees or task forces, as well

as participation in ground breaking invitational conferences, can

promote leadership potential, enhance influence and strength.

(Gregor, 1989, p. 188)

Cubberly (1996) notes that academic librarians are expected to join and

participate in professional organizations which provide opportunities for

contributing to one's library, institution, and profession while building a

dossier of involvement. This activity should begin as soon as one secures

a tenure-track position. "Volunteering is essential for involvement in

professional associations . . . . Look for things that need doing, find out who

is in charge, and offer to help" (Cubberley, 1996, p. 47). A willingness to

work, organizational skills, and other talents developed via committee

work may lead to becoming an officer in the association. This is a major

time and energy commitment, and one must assess carefully if one is willing

and able to commit the time.


Most university libraries have written documentation on criteria for

the promotion of librarians. In California, higher education institutions

share similar requirements for promotion despite variance in the status

of librarians. For example, in the California State University system of

twenty-one campuses offering primarily master's degrees, librarians have

faculty status. The University of California system (nine doctoral

degree-granting campuses) classifies librarians as academic staff with

promotions governed by criteria such as that expressed by the Librarians'

Association of the University of California (LAUC):

The first criterion is professional competence and service within the

library. Outstanding service within the library is the primary and

absolutely essential consideration in any merit or promotion review.

However, for a librarian to be considered for promotion . . . recognition

should also be accorded to performance in . . . professional

activity outside the library, university and public service, research

and other activity. (Librarians' Association of the University of

California, 1989, p. 1)

Many librarians gain promotion by pursuing the administrative and managerial

tasks as the central concerns which advance their career opportunities.

At academic institutions where librarians are granted faculty status,

career paths may involve more scholarly efforts and publications than

under a managerial model (Rux, 1988).

As academic employees of the University, librarians are responsible

for participating in professional activities outside the library, and

for University and public service, and for research and other creative

activity . . . Knowledge initially gained through professional

education is expanded through participation in the activities of local,

regional, state, national, and international professional associations

. . . . Professional growth and development is a requirement for

retention and advancement in the Librarian series. (Librarians' Association

of the University of California, 1983, pp. 1-2)

At California State University, Long Beach, evaluation criteria for librarians

includes effective librarianship; scholarly, professional, and creative

activities; and library, university, and community service. Librarians have

faculty status at the California State University campuses and are expected

to achieve at least adequate accomplishments in all three areas. Professional

activity involves "Membership, with participation and leadership,

in local, state, and national professional organizations, and recognition--e.g.,

receipt of honors, awards, fellowships" (Retention, Tenure, and Promotion,

1991, p. 7). Planning and giving workshops can be accomplished

through professional library associations. For professional service, the

evaluation process emphasizes "(1) the quality and significance of the

activity, as measured by the degree to which the activity contributes to the

mission of the University; and (2) the extent and level of the candidate's

involvement" (Policy on Retention. . ., 1996, p. 6).

Stanford University's (1989) Academic Staff - Libraries Handbook indicates

criteria for the various ranks, the scope of the job assignments, and

the level of responsibilities involved. Evidence of professional contribution

and achievement beyond the library is expected at the latter two of

the four ranks of librarians. And movement through the ranks must include

external evidence of expertise both within and beyond the scope

of the immediate job assignment. Cubberley (1996) provides an example of a

typical tenure and promotion document and its requirements. Many university

evaluation guidelines are based upon documents written by ACRL, Association of

American Colleges, and American Association of University Professors. They

clearly point to the necessity for a range of professional activities beyond the

usual job duties: "Professional growth should be documented by evidence of

activities which further such development. Since talents and inclinations,

demands of positions, and opportunities vary, the individual librarian must

decide how to contribute to the profession and in which direction to grow"

(Cubberly, 1996, p. 108).

Traditionally, library schools have recognized the importance of

professional organizations for librarians, but the future of that relationship

is uncertain with the advent of "Information Management" schools replacing

traditional library schools. Despite the shifting currents of the information

age, associations remain significant sources for professionals, offering

development programs, publication of research studies, explorations of trends,

and annual conferences as the means for sharing ideas and experiences

(Sperr-Brisfjord, 1989).

Work within professional organizations varies from committee work,

organization of workshops or presentations, writing, editing, program planning,

and fund raising. All provide opportunities to develop new skills,

self-education, networking, improve one's profession, add to the body of

professional knowledge, and provide creativity and innovation in the

profession. All are opportunities to grow and establish leadership traits

and behaviors.


Controversies persist over the definition of leadership, although most

professionals agree that the skills can be developed in many individuals.

Demonstrated leadership in libraries is an urgent need amid the current

whirlwind of technological change, downsized staff and budgets, and rising

expectations and demands for information. Professional associations and

organizations can and must have a large role in providing self assessment tools

and opportunities, training resources, and mentoring opportunities

through courses, internships, and fellowships. Continuing education

classes, institutes, and workshops are always under development and revision by

the major information professional associations. Academic and research

libraries, if they want their professional staffs to participate fully and

productively in strategic planning and strategic thinking, must also participate

by providing as many learning opportunities as they can afford. At the same

time, individual professionals cannot count on their workplace to seek out and

offer these opportunities; they must take responsibility to seek out a wide

range of educational and mentoring situations. If one wants to play a leadership

role in the information profession, the fluctuating situation of today's

libraries provide plenty of opportunities. Management of one's own training and

risk-taking behaviors provide chances to demonstrate leadership in libraries.

There are opportunities to develop ones leadership skills if they are sought

out. There is a real need to identify potential leaders and provide them with

appropriate information and encouragement as early in their careers as

possible, supported by a core of leadership development programs.


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Title Annotation:The Role of Professional Associations
Author:Gordon, James C.
Publication:Library Trends
Date:Sep 22, 1997
Previous Article:Library association staff: roles, responsibilities, relationships.
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