Instant Ideas and Collaboration

#uklibchat Summary – Change – 6th August 2013

Highlights from our lively chat on change are presented below.  You can access the full archive for the chat via https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgyKBIR780pOdDhONUtNN0pmT0lCdkh3RXNVUjlaUUE&usp=drive_web#gid=0

1. What are the biggest changes you have had to face in your career in libraries?

Many changes were personal: changing jobs, moving sectors and moving countries. Physical changes such as moving the library from one site to another were also mentioned. Another major point of discussion for this question was the impact of technology in libraries, including changing LMS. The following exchange between Andrew Preater and Liz Jolly picked up on the idea that technology change is not necessarily new:

  • Probably the unrelenting pace of change in technology and its influence on libraries in my sector (HE). in my view, the late 2000s saw a major acceleration. I would guess others longer in the profession would pick out some different timescale eg. late 90s was pivotal (I was an undergrad though!). @preater
    • I think arguments could be made for several decades in the 20th century! @liz_jolly
    • I pick late 2000s cos lots of the technological groundwork was done eg mature opensource software stack & things technically *possible* became more or less *pervasive*. @preater

2. How do you/your colleagues tend to react to change? What about your library users?

3. Do you feel on the whole you are positive about change?

Most people felt they were positive about change themselves but felt some colleagues struggled with it. e.g. @stevenheywood too often people want things to change so long as it doesn’t affect themselves. Natural but only up to a point…

Additionally, it was reported that users often find change harder than staff

Many very much embraced change and @clareangela felt this positive approach was essential for librarians:

  • If you don’t like change you have no business being in this industry @clareangela
    • Went to some training for new librarians where the presenter said “If you don’t like change, leave libraries” @sarahcchilds
    • So true …libraries are about changing lives and if we can’t embrace change how can we effectively enable this? @liz_jolly

Issues with change included: the lack of genuine consultation, the significant cuts experienced in UK public library services and poor change management. Another common attitude is encapsulated in the following quote from @theangelremiel

  • I’m guarded about change. Too often a whim is presented as a fait accompli. On the other hand, if it’s a good idea I’ll go to it all hands to the pump. I just need to be persuaded first. It’s also definitely true that poor change management can turn something harmless into a disaster

4. How can you keep colleagues open-minded, positive and motivated throughout the change?

The need for communication and engagement with staff was strongly emphasised as being essential to the management of change.  Consultation was advised but many contributors passionately argued that that there needed to be at least a small possibility that staff input would actually be acted upon. @poetryghost mentioned the slogan “Inform, involve, explain and train.” Being honest, acknowledging concerns and explaining reasons for change were also highlighted.

@jwebbery also wisely stated “Change needs to be owned by all stakeholders”

An even wiser statement was made by @sonja_kujansuu “It’s important to continuously supply colleagues with biscuits and cake to keep them motivated throughout…”

5. How are library spaces changing? (Physical changes or the ways they are being used?)

Library space was seen as not just physical, but also online. Flexible study space was widely discussed, especially in universities – @saintevelin described HE libraries as “a venue more than a collection”

6, What skills do librarians need to successfully lead change?

Skills mentioned included communication, project management, empathy, having vision, leadership, staff engagement, acknowledging success and failure

@theangelremiel summed up his feelings thus: “Drive to make desirable/inevitable change. Strength to resist destructive/avoidable change. Wisdom to know the difference”

7. Change management. What are the dos and don’ts from your experience?

Some great dos and don’ts were offered by our participants (Nice to see more dos rather than don’ts -keeping things positive – Ed)


  • DO understand range of appetite for change and emotions
  • DO be resolute in implementation.
  • DO have a clear reason for making change.
  • DO Listen to your staff, communicate with them, give out information
  • DO listen and respond. Sometimes you can make greater changes through consultation and engagement
  • DO know how you will know if you’ve been successful. If you can’t define success you can only fail.


  • DON’T let rumour take over
  • DON’T just say change comes from your superiors, even if you don’t like it engage with it and make it work
  • DON’T present change as permanent (if poss), inflexible
  • DON’T fall into the trap of: ” We must do something. This is something. We must do this.” Do have a clear purpose.
  • DON’T Keep all information close at heart

8. With all the changes faced by libraries, are perceptions of the profession also changing?

@liz_jolly said “Do we spend too much time worrying about this? We should develop our professional confidence, be clear about our value and impact to our communities and stop being so concerned about perceptions!”

Although others expressed the need for us to keep thinking about how we’re perceived in order to help us do our jobs better.

9. How are the information needs of library users changing? Are we meeting demands?

@libraryninja said [It’s] more ‘how do we ensure people can find the right information from a trusted source?” So many don’t have a clue how to search etc.

@poetryghost expressed her view that “In a way it is the manner of supporting library user needs that is changing. We’ve always been guides and advisors about quality info.”

A couple of points were made about technology e.g.

Public libraries are struggling to keep up with huge expectations around fast, reliable Internet connection and up to date PCs. #nomoney @PaulTov

10. How do you keep colleagues and library users informed about changes?

Whilst new technology such as social media was mentioned, signage and good old-fasioned face-to-face conversations were also felt to be important.

11. How can library services change and benefit from collaborations with other sectors?

Convergence of professional services incl library, student services, learning development now fairly common in HE so skills relating to working collaboratively with others from different professional backgrounds also important @liz_jolly

12 What changes do you anticipate will occur in libraries in the next 10 years?

Growth of online resources was mentioned – and issues around it – such as information preservation and the continuing need for space for printed items .

I personally found these two tweets thought-provoking:

  • We’ll see pervasive use of #opensource next-gen library systems and shared-services approach to same. At least in HE. 🙂 @preater
  • Bridging the widening gap between academic and public sectors will become ever more difficult. @mickfortune

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This entry was posted on October 26, 2013 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , .


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