Category Archives: Libraries & Museums

Remote management of library staff: Challenges and practical solutions

Source: Sarah Edwards, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 47, Issue 5, September 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
COVID-19 has forced staff in academic libraries across the world to pivot from face-to-face workdays and services to fully remote (and, in some cases, back again) with very little time or notice. This new reality has presented new challenges in the remote management of staff that may also be working remotely, or in the building. This column explores some of those challenges and presents possible solutions for those at all levels of library management.

In Pursuit of Diversity in the CUNY Library Profession: An Effective Approach to Leadership in Academic Libraries

Source: Nilda Alexandra Sanchez-Rodriguez, Journal of Library Administration, Latest Articles, December 12, 2020
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From the abstract:
Maximizing the current organizational culture and diversity/inclusion practices within CUNY libraries is crucial to retaining highly talented support staff with significant potential for future leadership roles. This research explores equity, diversity, and inclusion within the library profession, with the intention of implementing strategic frameworks to attract, recruit, and retain underrepresented groups within the University. To spotlight areas of upward mobility within CUNY academic libraries, a CUNY-wide Library Workplace Climate survey on the perceptions of diversity, universal inclusion, and career progression was conducted. The scope of the survey study compares the different perspectives of CUNY librarians, full-time library classified paraprofessionals, and part-time classified staff to measure CUNY’s commitment to addressing the diversity gap in the library profession. CUNY-wide, 141 library employees participated in a survey study to uncover professional development opportunities in support of career advancement and upward mobility. Nearly 2 in 5 African American/Black library staff-members are paraprofessionals, while 13.5% are faculty. A stark contrast to 3 in 5 or 64% CUNY library faculty, which identified as White/Caucasian. The findings reinforce the need for measures to maximize workplace diversity through support-staff mentoring, guidance, and recruitment. Workplace mentorship and career development—across all levels within CUNY libraries—cultivate skills for a better work environment that can lead to promotion and successful plans for succession. Investing and sustaining structured library professional development opportunities geared toward underrepresented groups—generally in paraprofessional and student-worker roles—will help identify next generation CUNY library leadership.

First Class Tickets—Perks and Library Management

Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61 no. 1, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A case study presents a public library director who has traveled lavishly with library funding to the annual American Library Conference while three librarians with professional obligations did not receive support. The initial analysis concludes that she did nothing illegal or even unethical and presents reasons why her expenditures may be less troubling than they seem. Nonetheless, she behaved unwisely because her actions may have a negative effect upon employee morale and her relationship with the community. The general principle for all library managers should be to evaluate the necessity of professional travel, especially to attractive locations, and to make sure that an administrator is the appropriate person to represent the library. Beyond travel, administrators should not be exempt from cost saving measures because of the current pandemic. One additional complication is a differing judgment between the administrator and staff about what is a perk and what is an obligation.

Voices of Strength: A Survey of Librarians Working with Chronic Illnesses or Conditions

Source: Susan Rathbun-Grubb, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61 no. 1, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This research attempts to understand the ways that librarians overcome the challenges associated with a chronic condition in the workplace. Six hundred sixteen respondents completed a survey about type of workplace, type of chronic condition, longevity of the condition, disclosure, accommodations, level of support, career mobility and advancement, work challenges, coping strategies, and perceptions on disability. Respondents report chronic illness and conditions of all sorts, both visible and invisible, with 46% having more than one type of illness. They cope by using creative strategies to supplement or replace formal accommodations, however 39% believe that their condition has negatively impacted their career advancement.

National Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums

Source: American Alliance of Museums and Wilkening Consulting, November 2020

From the summary:
Between October 15-28, AAM and Seattle-based Wilkening Consulting conducted the second iteration of a survey of 850 museum directors to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on the museum field. The survey asked the same questions as the first National Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums conducted in June, and gathered some new data and benchmark metrics for members. Museum directors responded to the AAM survey on behalf of their organizations, representing a broad cross-section of the field geographically, by size, and by discipline.

The sample of 850 museums provides a confidence level of 95 percent with a confidence interval of 3 percent for the population of AAM member museums. The data filters (by museum type, geographic region, and museum operating expenses) have smaller numbers and therefore higher margins of error. The research was conducted by AAM and Seattle-based firm, Wilkening Consulting.

Findings from the new AAM survey show museums are suffering prolonged stress and are anticipating a difficult and slow recovery:

  • Nearly 30% of museums in the United States remain closed due to the pandemic.
  • Nearly one-third of museum directors surveyed confirmed there was a “significant risk” (12%) of closing permanently by next fall, or they “didn’t know” (17%) if they would survive.
  • Over half (52%) of museums have six months or less of operating reserves; 82% have twelve months or less of operating reserves.
  • Over half (53%) of responding museums have had to furlough or lay off staff. Overall, respondents indicate that approximately 30% of staff are currently out of work. Positions most impacted by staffing reductions included frontline (68%), education (40%), security/maintenance (29%), and collections (26%) staff.
  • To prepare for reopening, each museum spent, on average, $27,000, with this figure cited as high as $750,000.
  • On average, each respondent has lost $850k in revenue due to the pandemic so far this year.
  • On average, respondents anticipated losing approximately 35% of the museum’s budgeted operating income in 2020 and are anticipating losing an additional 28% of normal operating income in 2021.
  • While museums are creatively replacing traditional revenue models, digital fundraising event revenues are falling 34% short of these traditionally in-person activities.
  • Museums are operating at, on average, 35% of their capacity–an attendance reduction that is unsustainable long-term.

Related:
Press Release

Libraries Reopen in COVID-19 Hot Spots: Are Library Staff Being Protected?

Source: Lindsey Williams, BookRiot, August 18, 2020

Arizona has made headlines quite often this summer as the state’s COVID-19 cases soared. As of August 13, the CDC reports that Arizona currently ranks third in cases per capita, falling only behind Louisiana and New York City.

In the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, two major library systems have yet to reopen. The Phoenix Public Library System, which has 17 branches located throughout the Phoenix area, states on their website that it “continues to remain closed to in-building visits in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our community and staff safe during our ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic.” The Maricopa County Library District, which has 20 branches located throughout the county, has also remained closed “in order to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our staff and community safe during this crisis.”

Despite this, several city libraries in Maricopa County made the decision to reopen, some as early as June 1. This begs the question: If the two major library systems in Maricopa County remain closed to the public to ensure the safety of their staff and patrons, what are the libraries that have chosen to reopen doing to protect their own?

US academic libraries’ staffing and expenditure trends (1996–2016)

Source: Starr Hoffman, Samantha Godbey, Library Management, Vol. 41 No. 4/5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose:
This paper explores trends over time in library staffing and staffing expenditures among two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

Design/methodology/approach:
Researchers merged and analyzed data from 1996 to 2016 from the National Center for Education Statistics for over 3,500 libraries at postsecondary institutions. This study is primarily descriptive in nature and addresses the research questions: How do staffing trends in academic libraries over this period of time relate to Carnegie classification and institution size? How do trends in library staffing expenditures over this period of time correspond to these same variables?

Findings:
Across all institutions, on average, total library staff decreased from 1998 to 2012. Numbers of librarians declined at master’s and doctoral institutions between 1998 and 2016. Numbers of students per librarian increased over time in each Carnegie and size category. Average inflation-adjusted staffing expenditures have remained steady for master’s, baccalaureate and associate’s institutions. Salaries as a percent of library budget decreased only among doctoral institutions and institutions with 20,000 or more students.

Originality/value:
This is a valuable study of trends over time, which has been difficult without downloading and merging separate data sets from multiple government sources. As a result, few studies have taken such an approach to this data. Consequently, institutions and libraries are making decisions about resource allocation based on only a fraction of the available data. Academic libraries can use this study and the resulting data set to benchmark key staffing characteristics.

Promotion: An Intractable Management Problem for Academic and Public Libraries

Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The lack of opportunities for promotion within libraries may be an important reason for job dissatisfaction and lowered morale. This column examines reasons why librarians wish to be promoted, the two paths for promotion, a short history of promotion since 1945, how promotions occur, why promotion is a challenge for management, and some suggestions to alleviate the problem. The corporate promotion model requires moving into a position with increased responsibilities and is often the only model in public libraries. The academic promotion model also offers the possibility of promotion for increased performance of the same duties, usually according to more formal rules. A blocked path for promotion can lead to leaving the library for opportunities elsewhere or create morale problems. Library managers can take some steps to increase promotion opportunities and sustain morale. The concluding section briefly argues the opposing viewpoint that the current state of promotion may benefit the profession as a whole if not some individual librarians.

Pandemic Impacts on Library Consortia and Their Sustainability

Source: George Machovec, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Library consortia are planning on how their funding, programs, and services may need to change with the societal tumult caused by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Most consortia in North America are either state agencies or non-profit corporations which may have different approaches and options available for solving substantial budget shortfalls. Changes may need to take place in staffing, programs, and services. Some consortia may have financial portfolios which may help on filling-in budget holes. Other consortia have applied for, and received, funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help with staffing. Many library consortia will not see a quick recovery but may have long-term consequences as their member libraries and parent organizations try to recover.

Working from Home: How We Managed Our Team Remotely with Technology

Source: Monica D. T. Rysavy & Russell Michalak, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s library and the office of institutional research & training (OIRT), along with all departments of our college, shifted to working from home (WFH) overnight. This column shares examples from the literature regarding experiences and lessons learned from both the corporate world and academic libraries’ experiences managing teams remotely with technology. Finally, we share how the College’s academic library and OIRT transitioned to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic with the variety of online tools we already used, but further enhanced during this experience, to communicate and collaborate effectively with our team members.