Coping with Change, Managing Uncertainty Essay

Coping with Change, Managing Uncertainty Essay

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Coping with Change, Managing Uncertainty
'Thirty years ago most people thought that change would mean more of the same, only better. That was incremental change and to be welcomed. Today we know that in many areas of life we cannot guarantee more of the same...[we] cannot even predict with confidence what will be happening in our own lives.' (Handy, 1991)

He differentiates between incremental and 'discontinuous' change, suggesting that the combination of economics and technology form a potent blend in this. We can see that Higher Education (HE) Library and Information Services (LIS), are part of an environment which is subject to both incremental and discontinuous change:

Political - increased control from central government
Sociological - the information age
Educational - the mass HE system
Technological - networking, computing and telecommunications
Organisational - new structures
Economic - increased demand for value for money
Cultural - changed norms and values
In LIS the move from holdings of information sources in-house to electronic access to remote sources, along with the pressure to provide more services with fewer human and financial resources brings its own kind of change:

New structures such as team-working
Collaboration with a range of different groups and individuals
Additional skills for staff and users
Increased management and decision-making
Heavier workloads
LIS managers and their staff need to adopt positive strategies to cope with these changes:

'Library administrators must become facilitators. They must understand how the world is changing and how the library must change. And they must also learn to be masters at persuasion, since wherever there is change there will be resistance.' (Moore, 1995)

Coping with change rests on two struts: understanding change and managing change.

Coping with change: understanding
Practical steps can be taken to increase knowledge and understanding:

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis
TQM (Total Quality Management) exercises
Group planning exercises
Programmes of visiting speakers
Training needs analysis
Environmental scanning
Electronic discussion lists
User surveys
Internal staff surveys
Away days
External seminars, conferences and workshops
Shared experience sessions

Understanding uncertainty
'Information technology is ve...

... middle of paper ...

.... Mowat (eds). Networking and the future of libraries: managing the intellectual record. UKOLN and LA.

Corrall, S. (1995 b) Academic libraries in the information society. New Library World, 96 (1120), 35-42.

Garvin, D.A. (1994) Building a learning organisation. Business Credit New York, 96 (1), 19.

Handy, C. (1991) The Age of Unreason. In: Henry, Jane (ed) Creative Management. Sage Publications, 269-282.

Majaro, S. (1988) The Creative Gap. London, Longman.

Moore, M. (1995) Impact of the changing environment on academic library administration: conflicts, incongruities, contradictions and dichotomies. Journal of Library Administration, 22 (1), 13-36.

Morgan, G. (1991) Emerging waves and challenges. In: Henry, Jane (ed). Creative Management. Sage Publications, 283-293.

Riggs, D. (1997) What's in store for academic libraries? Leadership and management issues. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 23 (1). 3-8.

Walton, G. and Edwards, C. (1997) Strategic management of the electronic library in the UK higher education sector: implications of eLib's IMPEL2 project at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle. In: Raitt, D. (ed) Libraries for the New Millennium, 169-198.

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