A Strategy for Library Management
Authored by: Peter Lyman, University Librarian
May 1996

In the past year The Library has been developing strategic plans for its collections and services.  Inevitably, each of our task forces on collections and services has touched on a third dimension, the organization of our decision making itself, that is, our institutional culture as it is expressed in the budget planning process and subsequently in our management and operations.  This paper describes the third dimension of a strategic plan, a strategy for library management.  How should The Library make key decisions as we seek a new equilibrium after the budget cuts?

What kind of management strategy is appropriate to manage the changes we face?  We have just completed a five year period of budget cutting in which the staff has been cut by a third, and the purchasing power of the collections budget has declined.  Yet, thanks to your hard work and resilient spirit, The Library has continued to innovate and is still regarded as one of the leading public University research libraries in the world.  Now our task is to plan a budget strategy which can define a new equilibrium between resources and programs, using a management process which builds consensus, yet with the ability to make hard choices.

1.  Strategic Goals for The Library's Management.

The organization of The Library's management strategy may be the most important choice we make in our design for the future, for it shapes the process by which we make key decisions.  The decisions we have to make are difficult and require building consensus, therefore participation and debate are essential for good management.  Yet we must also be able to make binding decisions about two key questions:

The new management strategy began in July 1995 with the creation of Access Services.  Access Services was charged with improving access services, but at the same time taking the largest portion of the two-year budget cuts to allow time for planning other cuts.  Yet, inevitably, now The Library must address the impact of budget cuts upon the collections and academic services.  As a first step in developing a collections strategy, The Library submitted a problem statement concerning the impact of inflation upon Library collections to the Faculty Senate Library Committee, entitled Strategic Planning for Library Collections and Information Resources (December 8, 1995).  In response, the Chancellor has now made an extraordinary three year commitment of $1 million a year as bridge money to give The Library time to define a collections plan which will meet academic needs, but at the same time control costs.

As a first step in developing a service model for academic services, the Academic Services Planning Group (ASPG) was created in June 1995 to develop recommendations on the organization of our public service units; the committee report was completed in December 1995.  After extensive discussions this Spring, I have identified two objectives for the organization of Academic Services.  (1)  The first step, the organization of Academic Services, is evolutionary:   Academic Services should continue to be organized into three resource groups, each reporting to the University Librarian and represented on LAG.  However, the new resource centers will reflect the organization of Berkeley's academic programs: Humanities and Area Studies, Social Sciences and Professions, and Sciences and Engineering.  (2)  The second step is strategic:  Academic Services must become the central focus of The Library's Administrative Group;  our planning should centrally concern the issue of the quality of The Library's services and collections.  This management strategy must achieve several objectives in the next few years:

  1. The quality of the Library must be measured by the responsiveness of our collections and services to the specific needs of faculty and students in Berkeley's academic programs.  Necessarily this requires a methodology for measuring faculty and student information needs, and performance measures to measure the responsiveness of library services and collections.

  2. At the same time, The Library must control costs by sharing resources and taking advantage of economies of scale, develop a technical infrastructure to reduce operational costs through productivity gains, and continuously invest in staff training.

  3. We must promote the organizational flexibility needed to adapt to change, by redefining service models;  improving the alignment of resources with academic priorities;  and developing professional standards more attuned to contemporary library service.

  4. The Library must develop an appropriate consultative strategy for planning, working with Deans on academic priorities, with faculty on choices concerning both content and format of library collections, and with other libraries to share resources.

2.  The Organizational Matrix

After conversations with many members of The Library, the following strategic assumptions seemed to provide practical guiding principles for the design of an organization.

  1. The "Resource Group" Strategy.  The ASPG report argues that The Library's academic service units are too numerous and too diverse to report to one person, thus new "resource managers" should be appointed to clusters of branches with complementary collections and similar clientele.  The resource groups must be large enough to have substantial resources to generate economies of scale from new service models, yet be small enough to encourage wide participation in decision making;  each must develop customized services and collections appropriate to each academic subject, yet the leaders must work as a team on library wide issues.

  2. What resource center clusters fulfill these criteria?  As a methodology to create a long term library equilibrium strategy over the next three years, the change to a new service model should be focused on three resource groups, each with its own planning goals.
In the Sciences and Engineering, the key problem is inflation in the price of journals;  the management challenge is to control the rate of rise in the cost of information and expand access to resources in digital formats.  Key options for analysis include implementation of digital library subscriptions, cooperation with other institutions in developing shared information resources (including shared collections, joint licensing of digital journals from publishers, document delivery), electronic publishing, and new revenue sources.  The Sciences and Engineering Resource Center includes the Biosciences and Natural Resources, Public Health, Optometry, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy/Math/Statistics, and Earth Sciences/Map branches as well as the Health Sciences Information Service.

In the Humanities and Area Studies, the key problem is preserving the quality, breadth and depth of collections.  Options for analysis include implementation of performance measures for evaluating and designing collections, development of shared collection strategies with other institutions, and developing appropriate support for teaching and research using information technologies.  This resource group includes the Bancroft, Music and East Asian Libraries, create a new Humanities and Area Studies Resource Group in the Main Library (including the South and Southeast Library, the Art History/Classics, and the Humanities Graduate Service).

In the Social Sciences and Professions, key problems include the need to manage both print and quantitative data, the development of networked information resources, and managing the change in format of government information from print to digital.  Key options for analysis include electronic publication and revenue strategies.  The Social Sciences and Professional Resource Group includes the Government and Social Science Information Service, Long Business and Economics, Anthropology, Environmental Design, Social Welfare, and Education/Psychology branches.

No "cluster" strategy is perfect, including this one.  An obvious problem is that Area Studies potentially spans all fields, and especially Humanities and Social Sciences;  therefore, genuine teamwork among members of the resource groups will be needed.  Similarly, each area has unique digital library needs, but library systems are only cost effective if common standards and technologies are used.  There are other issues that must be addressed collaboratively by the teams:  for example, how do we redesign service models?  How do we cooperate with others, especially affiliated libraries and IS&T?  How do we generate investment resources?

3.  Organizing Principles for The New Library Administration.

In developing these principles the University Librarian met with faculty and Deans, with the Library Managers Group, and invited comments.  The UL then met with all Librarians and staff who submitted comments.  Their concerns included these important issues bearing upon the every aspect of library management:

  1. There was no established consensus about how Academic Services should be organized, either based upon ASPG recommendations or past models.

  2. Most of those interviewed were concerned that the new leadership would have to resolve difficult questions, thus must have sufficient authority to make binding decisions.

  3. There was concern that very few candidates had applied for the Acting AUL for Public Services and Head of RSCD searches, and consensus that there would be no acceptable candidates for these roles without adequate compensation and reasonable workload.

  4. There was concern that the organizational model in which Academic Services was led by a single AUL created too great a distance between administration and service units.

  5. There was concern that the separation of administrative responsibility between Academic Services and Collections created confusing dual reporting lines and inhibited effective coordination between program and information resources planning.

  6. There was concern that the new model not add to the total administrative overhead, yet recognition that although in theory there was one AUL for Academic Services, in practice the authority has been divided among three people.

  7. There was concern about how to fund an external search for multiple leaders, about the delay a search would bring to filling a vital leadership role, and an estimate that an outsider would take at least a year to "come up to speed."
The following principles are a provisional strategy for solving these issues.  Having the closest contact with faculty and students in Berkeley's academic programs, the clusters should set the agenda for Library budget planning for collections and services.  Together the AULs will be the central force in working cooperatively to develop and implement our new strategic directions.  By extension from this responsibility, the resource center leaders should be appointed with the authority of Associate University Librarians.  The Academic Services AULs will formally report to the University Librarian for strategic and budget planning functions, while the Deputy University Librarian will coordinate the Library's general operations.

Within their resource groups, the AULs would have authority over operations and collections budgets and all personnel matters, subject to general strategic directions set by the University Librarian and operational principles defined by the Deputy University Librarian.  In sum, the resource group leaders will have full responsibility for program, collections, and budget planning and development within their areas.  The resource group leaders will work closely with the UL on strategic issues, with the Deputy on operations, and with Access Services, Administrative Services and the Collection Development AUL to develop library wide policy and to ensure a reasonable and equitable distribution of resources across all Library units.  Just as each of the Groups provides services to the campus, each of the internal administrative groups provide services to Academic Services, thus the priorities and programs defined by the Cluster AULs will tacitly define the priorities of Access Services, Administrative Services and Collection Development.  There are economies of scale in Access Services and a mandate to provide technical infrastructure and services to the entire library.  Administrative Services must provide consistent human, financial and space resource policies across the Library.  The AUL for Collection Development must coordinate library wide collection development and information access policies, programs and initiatives, and work closely with the Resource Group Leaders and other Administrative units to manage budgets, develop digital library initiatives, and develop collection evaluation and performance measurement methodologies.  Each administrative unit will continue to report to the UL to coordinate strategic planning and budgets, and work within the Operations group of the Deputy to coordinate Library management.

This statement of principles is general and subject to refinement in practice;  in fact one of the fundamental purposes of this management strategy is replace hierarchical management with participatory management, to foster creativity and innovation.  Each of the resource leader AULs must be able to work with their team to define their own structures and styles, to create new ideas and take risks.

4.  Selection Procedures for Academic Services Associate University Librarians.

The University Librarian has received the permission of The Vice Chancellor, to whom responsibility for AUL selection and appointment procedures has been delegated, to use the procedures used to select academic department chairs to appoint the new Associate University Librarians for Academic Services.  This management strategy is intended to align Library programs to academic mission and programs, and its leadership strategy adopts the departmental chair model to emphasize the essentially academic nature of the Library, and the academic status of Librarians.  The University Librarian has met with the Library Managers Group to describe the principles of this re-organization, met with every Librarian who had submitted a comment, then revised and discussed the model.  A number of those interviewed joined a focus group to refine and test the ideas and discuss organizational issues.  After the process of consultation, there appears to be consensus that this strategy will open up the decision making process, make the management role more attractive to a wider group of potentialcandidates, and produce more innovative decisions.

The Academic model stresses consultation and consensus building within the unit; this model is especially useful for building an organization in which priorities and plans are set by general participation rather than imposed from the top.  In the next three years the Library must make long term, innovative strategic decisions to create a new equilibrium between its resources and its services, and create new budgetary and technological models for collections; thus the detailed knowledge of the campus environment brought by established Librarians from within UC Berkeley is invaluable. This strategy does not require the Library to create nor fund new FTE AUL budget lines, but borrows from the present workforce. After a new equilibrium is defined, or when resources are available to recruit from outside, The Library may choose to review the costs and benefits of this tactic. The LAUC Executive Committee will be asked to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this management model at the end of the three years.

Procedurally, new AULs will be selected for fixed three year terms, then return to regular Librarian assignments; this circulates management responsibility among librarians, helps to keep decision making focused on real and urgent operational problems, and helps to prevent a hierarchical relationship between management and faculty. Like Departmental Chairs, the Academic Services AULs will be drawn from the ranks of UC Berkeley Librarians, and serve for a fixed term of office. The term should be long enough to benefit from accumulated experience, but short enough to enable Librarians to return to their academic specialties. The term might be renewable, but in principle, the responsibility should circulate. During the time that these librarians serve as AUL's, they would continue to carry a 0% FTE appointment in the Librarian series. In order that they continue to make normal progress, CAPA has agreed to develop a process to continue the normal review timetable of the AULs within the Librarian series.

To identify potential candidates, the University Librarian has actively solicited nominations, and has interviewed all of those nominated by their peers in order to recruit and evaluate interested candidates. The final candidates will be brought to the LAUC Executive Committee for discussion. It is worth noting that no nominees were interested in serving as Acting AUL for Academic Services as the job had previously been defined, and many of the ideas in these papers were the product of their recommendations about how to make the job more attractive, and the incumbents more likely to be successful.

5. Draft Statement of Responsibilities.

The new resource group leaders will have full responsibility for program and information resources planning for library services to the academic departments, schools, and colleges in the general cluster of disciplines covered by service units in the AUL's resource center. The major objective of the AUL must be to work with faculty and colleagues to define, build, and preserve Berkeley's information resources and services in support of research and teaching on the campus. This responsibility includes: delivery of information services to faculty and students through staffed information points, development and use of new technologies to assist and inform clientele, extending and strengthening instructional programs and outreach; it also includes providing information resources to the campus community through collection development, implementation of commercial and electronic document delivery services, licensing of commercial products, formulation of resource sharing agreements, leadership of digital library planning and development; as well as fund raising, budgeting and budget management, and staff development and renewal. A key responsibility is to ensure that Berkeley plays an appropriately active leadership role in improving the ability of the nation's research libraries to support research and teaching.

6. Draft Statement of Qualifications.

The incumbent must possess the ability to plan, lead, and manage academic support programs in a complex, decentralized research University library setting. This requires a broad knowledge of research library services, collections and resource sharing potential; sophisticated appreciation of the potential of technology to provide information resources and improve services to campus research and teaching programs; understanding of the role of the research library in national developments in librarianship; a commitment to a consultative, participatory managerial style and a demonstrated concern for staff development. The incumbent must have the ability to provide creative leadership in dynamic circumstances, and must have an abiding commitment to the overriding goal of improving and extending the Library's information services; must be able to foster productive interaction among the various parts of The Library and to communicate effectively and work productively with Deans, faculty, students, donors, colleagues in other libraries, and campus managers; must possess strong skills in making oral and written presentations. Candidates must have demonstrated evidence of ability to lead, coordinate, and to motivate professional associates and subordinates within a collegial framework.

Authored by: Peter Lyman, University Librarian
May 1996

Copyright © 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
Document maintained by: Ann Moen
Last update 8/28/97. Server manager: Contact