Magazine article American Libraries

LC Plans to Phase out "Paramilitary" Hierarchy and Phase in "Revolutionary" Organizational Model

Magazine article American Libraries

LC Plans to Phase out "Paramilitary" Hierarchy and Phase in "Revolutionary" Organizational Model

Article excerpt

SINCE EARLY DECEMBER, Librarian of Congress James Billington and his planning cadre have been heralding a brave new world to come at LC, perhaps by the year 2000. They have unfurled a prospectus consisting of: mission and value statements, 198 planning committee recommendations, a macro-organizational concept of operations, and a set of redefined priorities-all adding up to "a revolutionary process to be applied in an evolutionary manner," in Billington's words.

"We are eliminating all non-value-adding layers of administration." Billington told a Chicago audience Dec. 7, at the last of 11 regional forums LC had scheduled drew gather input. (AL, Sept. 1988, p. 665). Earlier in the week, a similar comment drew cheers from assembled LC staff.

In Chicago, Billington told the Newberry Library Associates and guests they were among the first outsiders to hear the results of LC's mammoth year-long planning process. Last January, to help LC realize its full potential by 2000, Billington had launched a process involving a 27-member staff Management and Planning Committee (MAP), 29-member National Advisory Committee, and Arthur Young Consultants. Private funds sponsored an extensive management review of LC by the consultant firm, and the first phase of the Young report includes an organizational model that breaks away from LC's hierarchical structure.

"Like most government agencies," Billington told his Chicago audience, "we had a layered, paramilitary structure. Now, for the first time, there's a team of line managers - driven by strategic plan rather than budget process." The new plan eliminates, among other high offices, the deputy librarian position, ending speculation as to who will replace the retired William J. Welsh as LC's "No. 2" person and de facto national librarian. Billington expressed hope that the new organizational concept, well applied, could become a model for other government agencies. …

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