Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Leading Libraries: How to Create a Service Culture

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Leading Libraries: How to Create a Service Culture

Article excerpt

Leading Libraries: How to Create a Service Culture. By Wyoma vanDuinkerken and Wendy Arant Kaspar. Chicago: ALA, 2015. 224 p. Paper $65.00 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-1312-3).

Librarianship is a service industry, so aren't librarians, by definition, already service leaders? The answer, according to authors Wyoma vanDuinkerken and Wendy Arant Kaspar, is "no." Libraries and librarians may be part of a service industry, but to create a servant leader and a true service culture requires more than just lip service.

Leading Libraries: How to Create a Service Culture begin with two chapters overviewing the major views on leadership theories and service leadership, creating a foundation for the remainder of the book. This section feels like a whirlwind, as the authors cram decades of management and leadership theory into just twenty pages. For those with prior knowledge of leadership theories, this isn't difficult, but readers unfamiliar with the context may feel overwhelmed.

The remainder of the book focuses on five concepts--conscientiousness; rapport building; encouragement and accountability; innovation; and sustainability. Each concept is discussed in its own chapter, which addresses relevant research from the fields of organizational development, library science, and even psychology and political science. These chapters lead readers to examine their own values, opinions, and actions in light of their desire to be a servant leader and their own personal characteristics. Each concept is treated with equal importance, and--as with most leadership theories--can be applied not just to one's job but to one's entire life. At the end of these chapters, the authors provide guided reflection tools for the reader, urging them to evaluate their own professional (and sometimes personal) lives. The questions are thought-provoking and prompt reader to do some higher-order thinking about how these concepts can be observed and emulated.

The authors provide two very practical chapters at the end--chapter 9, "Formalizing Service Leadership in Libraries," and chapter 10, "Service Leadership in Libraries." Chapter 9 provides exactly what its title promises: a way to formally introduce service leadership into the library setting. …

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