Time Management in State Libraries

By Gothberg, Helen M. | Special Libraries, Fall 1991 | Go to article overview

Time Management in State Libraries


Gothberg, Helen M., Special Libraries


The decision to undertake the time management study for state libraries was based on several factors. To begin with, there is very little information available in library literature about time management, and yet the subject prevails in business literature. A recent search of the business database ABI/INFORM turned up 470 citations between February 1985 and January 1990. In addition, there are a number of books that have been written on the subject. In looking over many of these articles it became clear that time management was no longer a matter of time and motion studies, PERT diagrams, and Gantt charts, but rather had to do with self management, and that it was tied into administrative skills such as delegation of authority and management style.

A prior study by Gothberg and Riggs (1) had provided useful information for academic library directors. However, state libraries are different from academic libraries so a time management study of state librarians was undertaken. State libraries are especially important because as Parker (2) pointed out, state librarians see themselves as creative and open to new challenges. In addition, state libraries are important players in a world demanding change and innovation. More than any other group of library leaders, state librarians are in a unique position to be role models for other librarians.

Utility of the Survey Results

Today's technology has made many library operations more efficient, but the human factor remains. As tax supported institutions whose budgeting has been focused on cost benefits as opposed to cost efficiency, library directors will need to look at library management in new ways. The high cost of new technologies and demands by taxpayers for increased accountability will dictate innovative ways of looking at efficiency. One way to do this is through better time management practices and possibly new organizational models. Finally, the results of such study give librarians the opportunity to look at what others in the profession are doing.

Goals of the Study

Two goals were identified for the study. They were as follows:

Goal 1: The primary goal of the study was to collect data related to time management practices and the leadership styles of directors in state libraries.

Goal 2: The second goal was to analyze and interpret the data in order to provide recommendations for future consideration by library directors and to provide a basis for the education of library managers and inservice training for staff.

Sampling and the Plan of the Study

The overall plan of the study involved the development and use of a mailed questionnaire dealing with time management. Essentially items were the same as for the academic library survey with some modifiers changed to fit state library organization. The population surveyed consisted of the heads of 50 state libraries in the United States. A first mailing resulted in an over 60% return which normally is considered reliable, but due to the small size of the population a second mailing was sent out, resulting in an 84% return.

Data Collection

Data for state libraries were collected in five areas:

* A profile of the respondents which included items dealing with the size of the library staff, number of years in current position, years as a library director, years as a library administrator, age, and gender. A four point interval scale was used for this section of the survey.

* The second section of the survey instrument collected data about how the respondents spent their time in doing ten traditional management activities including planning, reporting, supervision, budgeting, personnel work, and meetings in four categories. A six-point interval scale of hours per week was used to collect this data. Also covered in Section Two of the survey was the number of hours spent on fund raising and the number of days per year spent away from the library. …

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