Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



In the Changing scenario of Information industry and tremendous impact of multi-disciplinary disciplines, Library and Information Science has emerged as a multi-disciplinary subject with a fusion of educational technology, psychology, management, and information technology and computer science. The traditional roles of the library and information centres are no longer adequate to support the changed environment. It is seen in an academic and research environment particularly state universities and colleges; library leadership is lacking results an unhealthy environment that becomes an obstacle for development of an institution or library to achieve the desired goals. Hence, a new kind of leadership with new sets of skills and orientations is needed throughout the institution. This is not only applicable to library profession but also to every sector, particularly whether these leaders are chief information officers, Information technology officers, University librarians or college librarians with responsibility for managing an institution’s digital resources and information technology.

Hawkins and Marcum (2002) states that the information resource and technology leader today needs to understand that his or her role is no longer that of a specialist but rather that of a generalist, acting and participating as a critical partner in the central administration of the college or the university. To do this, the individuals must have at least rudimentary knowledge of things such as grants and contract administration, endowment spending policies, intercollegiate athletics, financial aid and tuition discounting, and myriad other facets of the institution as a whole. Since all of these issues present problems and challenges, it is imperative that the senior administrative team in the institution be able to look at all of the needs, weigh the tradeoffs, and make informed decisions. This mitigates against the notion of advocating solely for the needs of the “stovepipe” that a given individual may officially represent. The objective must be to find an optimal solution for the institution, not to maximize the advantage for a given unit or set of units. He further reiterates that strategies seem to be increasingly important for effective leadership within the broad scope of managing information resources and technology are articulate a vision, aim to make a difference, share and accept responsibility, understand yourself, focus on multiple constituencies and take risks.

Library is a service oriented organization and service to the humanity has been the motto of librarianship to enrich and enlighten the society with nascent information. This is on par with other service sectors like medicine, wherein the treatment of society is done using information as a medicine. Libraries are social agencies and they exist to serve specific needs in our society. Today’s librarians will work in a broad spectrum of libraries and information centers, and must be able to understand and interpret an increasingly complex information environment; they must be able to collaborate effectively with other information professionals; they must be able to articulate the value of the knowledge and skills of librarianship in a rapidly changing information environment; and they must be competent managers capable of innovation, efficiency, and leadership as they meet the demands of their clientele. Krishan Gopal (2006) emphasizes the need for effective leadership and the identification of an important component of such a statement of leadership competencies in the societal, organizational, and competitive changes affecting academic libraries.

Leadership should be legitimately exercised at multiple levels and by staff throughout the organization at all levels of library hierarchy. This activity cannot rest solely with one individual. It is desirable that a variety of people in different situations exercise leadership regarding their departmental goals as well as broader mission and goals of the library professionals to demonstrate leadership “regardless of their positions. Although the practice of shared leadership is not new in libraries, it has to occur only informally because there are always individuals who are willing to exert leadership within and beyond their specific position assignment. The leader who can take role of a facilitator blends his or her role of visionary decisive leader with that of listening and empowering leader. As a facilitative leader he or she involves followers as much as possible in creating the group’s vision and purpose, carrying out the vision and purpose, and building a productive and cohesive team. Facilitation can be seen as a leadership approach (Rees, 1998). Distributed leadership also means a departure from staff expecting that all decisions rest with the administrative staff to expectations that they will share in and accept responsibility for the directions and results of specific goals and the over all mission of the library. It might be helpful to consider shared leadership in relation to the concept of participatory management. Participatory management is based on the view that management responsibilities could be shared that is how organization implements what is envisioned for the future through planning, allocation of resources and policy development could and should involve staff than those in library management positions. In contrast shared leadership suggests that multiple people have value to contribute is shaping what the library will become by identifying innovative and imaginative services, building and maintaining sound relationship on campus, and taking personal responsibility for the overall mission and vision of the library.