Management Education for Library Directors: Are Graduate Library Programs Providing Future Library Directors with the Skills and Knowledge They Will Need?

By Mackenzie, Maureen L; Smith, James P | Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Management Education for Library Directors: Are Graduate Library Programs Providing Future Library Directors with the Skills and Knowledge They Will Need?


Mackenzie, Maureen L, Smith, James P, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science


Where do library directors, and the librarians who perform various management functions as part of their work, receive their management training? A review of the curricula of 48 graduate library school programs accredited by the American Library Association revealed that, for the most part, library managers are trained on the job. This paper presents the results of a two-part exploratory study focused on the research question: Do ALA-accredited graduate library education programs offer their students the knowledge they will need to enter leadership and management positions within the library profession? Of the 48 programs reviewed, 43.8% did not require management-related courses. A review of 24 program syllabi revealed that 58.3% of the management courses included human resource management concepts and 54.2% included strategy, planning and process. The results suggest that the library profession has yet to agree on the requirements for preparing future librarians for managerial positions and leadership roles.

Keywords: management education, library education, library directors, library management, qualitative research

Introduction: Librarianship and the Discipline of Management

The library director position is the prevalent managerial position within the library profession. Library directors must deal with all the personnel decisions related to full-time, hourly and student employees. Depending on the organizational structure of the institution, library directors interact with union and/or non-union employees. They must be aware of various human resource related topics, such as reasonable accommodation, sexual harassment, fair labor standards, equal employment opportunity provisions, and more. Library directors must provide training and supervision of the professional librarians, non-professional staff, and student assistants in their organizations. Library directors must make personnel decisions involving recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating and terminating staff. They must also make recommendations for the implementation of various personnel policy decisions.

In addition, other members of the professional library staff work in a broad range of institutions and perform a range of functions. In the performance of these multitudinous functions, there exist facets of management tasks and roles.

This study seeks to answer the question: Do ALA-accredited graduate library education programs offer their students the knowledge they will need to enter leadership and management positions within the library profession?

Literature Review

A review of the literature suggests that the library profession has been debating the need to increase the professional and management-related preparation for its library school graduates. An increase in the level of research focused on leadership is noted. Hernon and Schwartz (2008) set out to "stimulate the amount and type of research on the topic appearing in the literature of library and information science" (p. 243). Hansen (2004) suggested that the debate over what is needed in library education has been ongoing for many years. In the past, prior to the shift to master's level training for librarians, prominent library directors had developed their own in-house library education programs. The transition to master's level training also documents the steps toward professionalization for individuals working in the library field (Hansen, 2004). Elgohary (2003) described the debate on the effectiveness of library programs in preparing individuals for professional careers. Specific focus was placed on whether the job market demands are being met by the curriculum offered in graduate library programs.

Chandler (1994) sought to understand what competences were expected from the individuals earning a graduate library degree who intended to work within a law library. Chandler's study revealed a consensus among librarians and professional experts. …

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Management Education for Library Directors: Are Graduate Library Programs Providing Future Library Directors with the Skills and Knowledge They Will Need?
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