Reinventing the Library: From the 2012 "Leading in a Time of Change" Asia-Pacific Library Connect Seminar Series

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In this video, Dr. Thomas Leonard, University Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses organizational simplification with its goal of finding new ways to produce the library’s work, while being fair to employees and finding resources to devote to new challenges. Changes to the organization may include increasing a manager’s span, reducing levels and consolidating library locations.

Leonard spoke of the advantages of bringing in an outside consultant to encourage free inquiry and overcome inertia. Librarians often play a role of “custodians of culture,” which can result in rigidity and become an obstacle to change. Leonard was quick to note that staff attitudes are not fixed. He believes that by coming a little later to the process of organizational simplification than other academic libraries, UC Berkeley may have gotten more staff buy-in as the need for change had become apparent.

The consultants to UC Berkeley recommended they increase the number of direct reports per manager (their “span”) from 3-4 to 7-8 people, and emphasized the development of management skills and management as a profession. In addition, throughout the university, they recommended reducing the level of reporting layers, i.e., from the Chancellor down, from 13 to 6-7. With organizational simplification, the span of control increases.

Leonard also shared a number of slides from an internal survey that the library used to assist in its decision making. For example, asking what the highest spending priority was: collections, locations, or staff.