Objectives: Libraries face challenges as they continue to adapt to technology and changes in how information is created, organized, used, and preserved. They are under increased pressure to assess their work and be accountable for returns on investment to their institutions. A better understanding of what makes academic health sciences library directors effective could provide valuable guidance to future library leaders.
Methods: Phenomenological research was used to investigate the research questions of the study. Phenomenology focuses on revealing meaning and understanding the essence of a shared experience, and works well with phenomena that does not lend itself to easy quantification, such as leadership effectiveness. The data for this study were collected through semi-structured interviews with eight directors, drawn from academic health sciences libraries at public research universities with a very high research activity classification. The list of participants was further limited by geographical region (Southeast and South Central United States) and membership in the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Interview responses were coded, then examined for patterns that could developed into themes.
Results: The major themes were: 1) Assessing Your Environment; 2) Strategies and Decisions; and 3) Critical Skills. These themes captured important aspects in what made the participants’ effective library leaders and present practical guidance for improving leadership effectiveness. Assessing Your Environment discusses the need for directors to understand their context and institution to be successful. Strategies and Decisions looks at both long-term and short-term thinking that directors must engage in when leading. Critical Skills exams the skills participants thought were necessary to be effective as library leaders. Overall, the participants were able to convey much practical advice for improving leadership effectiveness.
Conclusion: Academic health sciences libraries are under greater pressure to assess their work and measure outcomes, as well as meet the challenges in an environment where technology and information are always changing in how it is used and created. This study explored the experiences of several experienced library directors to gain a better understanding of leadership effectiveness and provide guidance to future library leaders on how to be more effective leaders. There are many practical methods and skills they were able to share that can be used to improve leadership effectiveness and help all leaders successfully accept the leadership challenge.
Keywords: leadership, effectiveness, management, administration, career development, library directors
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Rick L. Fought, Ed.D., M.L.I.S., AHIP is the Director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He recently completed his doctorate in education, with an emphasis in higher education, from the University of Memphis. Dr. Fought's dissertation was titled, "A Phenomenological Study of Effective Leadership in Academic Health Sciences Libraries in the United States". The paper he is presenting at this conference is based on his research into effective leadership in academic health sciences libraries.
Dr. Fought has been at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for over six year having recently been promoted to Director in January 2017. Previously, he served as Interim Director of the UT Health Sciences Library for one year.
Sunday, May 28
3:20 PM – 3:35 PM
Assistant Professor, Adult Learning and Adult Education
Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling
Sunday, May 28
3:20 PM – 3:35 PM
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