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 IN LIBRARIES
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
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
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
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,
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).
TEACHING LEADERSHIP AND MENTORING
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).
PAST ASSOCIATION ACTIVITIES
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).
FELLOWSHIPS, INSTITUTES, INTERNSHIPS
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).
ASSOCIATIONS' CURRENT AND FORTHCOMING PROGRAMS
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
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).
CAREER MODELS AND CAREER MANAGEMENT
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.
CAREER ANCHORS MODEL
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.
CAREER PATHS MODEL
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
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.
GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL EVALUATION
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
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
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.
Albritton, R. L., & Shaughnessy; T. W. (1990). Developing leadership
skills: A sourcebook for librarians. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.
American Library Association. (1988). Planning document: Observations and
strategies- Chicago, IL: ALA
Anderson, D. J. (1985). Comparative career profiles of academic librarians:
Are leaders different? Journal of Academic Librarianship, 10(6), 326-332.
Association of Research Libraries, Office of Management Services. (1997).
199711998 training institute and workshop when and where schedule. Retrieved
November 6,1997 from the World Wide
Bass, B. M. (1981). Stogdills handbook of leadership: A survey of theory
and revarch. New York: Free Press.
Battin, P. (1983). Developing university and research library
professionals: A director's perspective. American
Libraries, 14(l), 22-25.
Bennis, W., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge.
New York: Harper Perennial.
Bernstein, E., & Leach, J. (1985). Plateau. American Libraries, 16(3),
178-180. Bowker annual of library and book trade information. (1996). New York:
CLR receives major grant from Kellogg Foundation. (1994). CLR Reports New
Series 5. Washington, DC: Council on Library Resources, Inc.
Council on Library Resources, Inc. (1994). Thirty-eighth annual report.
Washington, DC: CLR.
Council on Library Resources, Inc. (1995). Thirty-ninth annual report
Washington, DC: CLR.
Cubberley, C. W. (1996). Tenure and promotion for academic librarians: A
guidebook with advice and vignettes. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
Fuster, J. (1989). Qualities of leadership. In AL Gertzog (Ed.), Leadership
in the library/ information profession (pp. 4-17). Jefferson, NC: McFarland &
Fitzmaurice, A.M. (1992). Training for leadership. Library Trends, 40(3),
Gertzog, A- (1989). Perceptions of leadership. In A. Gertzog (Ed.),
Leadership in the library/ information profession (pp. 18-34). Jefferson, NC:
McFarland & Co., Inc.
Gregor, D. (1988). Organization and association leadership. In A.
Woodsworth & B. von Wahide (Eds.), Leadership for research libraries: A
festschrift for Robert M. Haves (pp. 188-206). Metuchen, NJ:
Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Hoffmann, E. J. (1988). Career management for leaders. In A. Woodsworth &
B. von Wahide (Eds.), Leadership for research libraries: A fesischrift for
Robert M. Hayes (pp. 166-187). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Kong, L. M., & Goodfellow, R.A.H. (1988). Charting a career path in the
information professions. College & Research Libraries, 49(3), 207-216.
Librarians' Association of the University of California. (1983). The
academic librarian in the University of California (LAUC Position Paper No. 5).
Berkeley, CA: LAUC.
Librarians' Association of the University of California. (1989). Criteria
for appointment or promotion to the ranks of associate librarian and Librarian
and advancement to librarian step V (LAUC Position Paper No. 1).
Berkeley, CA: LAUC.
Lowry, K B. (1988). Reexamining the literature: A babel of research and
theory. In A. Woodsworth & B. von Wahide (Eds.), leadership for research
libraries: A festschrift for Robert M. Hayes (pp. 1-40). Metuchen,
NJ: Scarecrow Press, Inc.
McChesney, K. (1984). Major professional organizations and professional
literature. In AR. Rogers & K McChesney (Eds.), The library in society
(pp. 219-228). Boulder, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Mech, T. (1996). Leadership and the evolution of academic librarianship.
Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22(5), 345-353.
Medical Library Association. (1996). An overview of the medical library
association. Retrieved November 6, 1997 from the World Wide Web:
Medical Library Association. (1997). Platform for change. The educational
Policy statement of the MLA. Retrieved November 6, 1997 from the World
Wide Web: http://wwwkumc.edu/MLA/pfcindex.html
Mobley, E. R. (1989). Women and minorities as leaders. In A. Gertzog (Ed.),
Leadership in the library/information profession (pp. 43-50). Jefferson, NC:
McFarland & Go., Inc.
Newman, C. G. (1995). Selection, career paths and managerial development in
academic library administration: Forecasting the needs of the twenty-first
century. In G. B. McCabe & R. J. Person (Eds.), Academic libraries (pp. 91-102).
Westport, C-F: Greenwood Press.
Policy on retention, tenure, and promotion. (1996). Policy Statement 96-12.
Long Beach, C.A. California State University-Long Beach.
Retention, tenure, and promotion. (1991). Long Beach, CA: California State
University, Long Beach, University Library and Learning Resources.
Riggs, D. E. (1982). Library leadership: Visualizing the future Phoenix,
AZ: Oryx Press.
Riggs, D. E., & Sabine, G. A. (1988). Libraries in the 90's: What the
leaders expect. Phoenixes: Oryx Press.
Rux, P. P. (1989). Teach or manage? Career models for librarians. Library
Journal, 11309), 32.
Schein, E. H. (1977). Career anchors and career paths: A panel study of
management school graduates. In J. V. Maanen (Ed.), Organizational carters
(pp. 49-64). London, England: John Wiley.
Sheldon, B. (1991). Leaders in libraries: Styles and strategies for
success. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
SLA Special Committee on Competencies for Special Librarians. (1996).
Competencies for special librarians of the 21st century: Executive
summary - May 1996. Specialist, 19(11), 1, 3, 8.
Special Libraries Association. (1996). SLA vision statement Retrieved
November 6, 1997 from the World Wide Web:
Sperr-Brisfjord, I. L. (1989). What do library schools teach about
Professional organizations? (survey of New York State's eight
library schools). Bookmark 48(1), 45-48.
Spitzberg, I.J., Jr. (1992). Leading librarians: The library and paths of
inquiry into leadership. Library Trends, 40(3), 381-390.
Stanford University. (1989). Personnel program: Academic staff- libraries.
Stanford, C.A Provosts Office, Stanford University.
Summers, F. W., & Summers, L. (1991). Library leadership 2000 and beyond:
Snowbird Leadership Institute. Wilson Library Bulletin, 66(4), 38-41.
Weaver, B., & Burger, L. (1991). library leaders for the 1990's. Wilson
Library Bulletin, 66(4), 35-37.
White, H. S. (1987). Oh, where have all the leaders gone? Library Journal
Wiegand, W. A., & Steffens, D. (1988). Members of the club A look at one
hundred ALA presidents (Occasional Papers No. 182 of the Graduate School of
Library and Information Science, University of Illinois). Urbana-Champaign,
IL: University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
Williams, J. F. (1988). Development of leadership potential. In
A. Woodsworth & B. von Wahide (Eds.), Leadership for research libraries: A
festschrift for Robert. [Hayes (pp.100-125). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow
Zaleznik, A. (1977). Managers and leaders: Are they different: Harvard
Business Review, 55, 67-78.
Barbara J. Glendenning, Education-Psychology Library, University of
California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000.
James C. Gordon, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||The Role of Professional Associations|
|Author:||Gordon, James C.|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1997|
|Previous Article:||Library association staff: roles, responsibilities, relationships.|
|Next Article:||Associate "members of the club" speak out: individual response to a state or regional association presidency.|