Monday, September 9, 2013

Comp D: Management

Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.


I have been a manager in retail environments for over ten years. I was even named “Manager of the Quarter” by my company. So I came into LIBR 204 thinking I already knew all there is to know about this subject, but I was very wrong! I still had so much more to learn. Some of what I knew could apply in a library environment, but there are quite a few differences also. Similarities include the importance of communication, budgeting, and motivation. The major difference is the goal: in retail management, the goal is always focused on improving the bottom line. In LIS – although it may vary somewhat – management goals are usually not profit-oriented, but user-oriented. This means different management, planning, and marketing techniques are necessary in a library environment.

  • Management

The four major resources that an LIS manager handles are employees, budgets, technology, and facilities. To successfully manage those resources, they must have knowledge in areas such as decision-making, authority, responsibility, change, delegation, employee performance, motivation, and communication. In the past, it was thought that just having authority over others was all a manager needed. Now, after years of study of management concepts, experts know that skills in the areas listed above can be learned and applied effectively. There have been many different fads in management styles over the decades – scientific, behavioral, administrative, and others – but no one approach will work with every situation and employee. Evans and Ward emphasize that “circumstance/environments change and flexibility is the cornerstone to successful managing” (2007, p. 36). Contemporary management experts use a composite approach that draws from every discipline and is flexible enough to respond to unique situations.

  • Planning

To reach any goal, we must have a plan. “Without a plan, the chances that random activity will achieve a desired organizational goal are extremely low,” say Evans and Ward (p. 146). Most organizations have both long-term and short-term plans. As a retail manager, we had daily, weekly, and monthly goals (i.e., sales, cleaning, and maintenance), and yearly goals (i.e., budget, employee retention). At the company level, there were long-term five- or ten-year plans, which we were privy to but not involved in creating at the store level. Library and information center managers can be more involved in the long-term planning process. The short, day-to-day plans are called operational plans. Tactical plans are mid-length plans and help move an organization to their strategic goals. Strategic plans are long-term, usually lasting several years. This strategic planning was the focus of much of my work in LIBR 204 and LIBR 282.

There are many parts to a successful strategic plan: an environmental scan helps management assess the parameters in which they are operating; mission, vision, and value statements boil down the organization’s ultimate strategy; and the plan goals and objectives allow management to break out tasks and timelines for employees. Sometimes a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is included in a strategic plan. This is an effective exercise, according to Evans and Ward, because it can “facilitate thinking through the implications of environmental data and the capabilities of your organization” (p. 153). They caution, though, that we should not become too attached to one style of long-term planning, to keep local settings in mind, and adjust our planning approach to fit the circumstances.

  • Marketing/Advocacy

Library and information centers in the past did not feel the need to market materials and services to patrons. Since the 1980s, this has changed. Now, we can see that marketing helps us increase effectiveness and tailor our programs and services to the needs of the people in the community. Evans and Ward list a few (of many) excellent reasons why a library may need to market their wares: people don’t know about the product; people cannot find the product or do not know when it is available; people do not understand what the product can do; people have difficulty using the product (p. 85-86). Once library management decide to make marketing part of the library’s plan, there are many areas this can be applied. Promotion is the most obvious way of marketing – this means techniques that inform and persuade the community to use the available services. Techniques include advertising, publicity, and using social media. Other areas of marketing include branding, internal marketing (making sure staff are well-informed of services), and public relations.

Advocacy is closely tied in to marketing, but library management does not just have to advocate to the community. They must advocate and lobby to politicians, executives, and other decision-makers about the usefulness of their programs and services. “A manager has to ensure that the service is recognized as being essential and adds value to the organization and the community it serves,” explain Evans and Ward (p. 187). This is especially important at times when the budget of the information center is under fire. Being a good advocate and having the backing of the community can go a long way to keeping a budget reasonably intact.


The first artifact I am presenting as evidence is part one of a group project for LIBR 204, called Team 3 Strategic Plan- Part 1. This section of our project includes a literature review; mission, vision, and value statements; an environmental scan; and a SWOT analysis. I was the group leader for this project and the library we assessed is where I volunteer, the Rohnert Park-Cotati Public Library. My contributions to this part of the project include the second half of the literature review (about social media in libraries); statistics, census data, and first-hand knowledge for the environmental scan; and articulating examples, quotations, and statistics for the SWOT analysis.

I demonstrate that I understand how long-term planning is applied in a library setting. The environmental scan and SWOT analysis really taught me that the situation of the organization can have a large impact on the goals of an organization. For instance, the Rohnert Park-Cotati Public Library has a built-in used bookstore run by the Friends of the Library; there are no other bookstores in the immediate area. This means that the Friends bookstore is able to raise over $1,000 a week in additional funds for the library, something no other library in the Sonoma County system is able to do. The branch manager is able to use these funds for extra high-demand book titles and any special projects she chooses. Every library has its own unique features such as this, and an environmental scan and SWOT analysis will show how these can be used to a manager’s advantage in the strategic goals.

The next evidence is the second part of the group project from LIBR 204, Team 3 Strategic Plan- Part 2. Section two includes the strategic goals, objectives, and assessments; and an annotated bibliography. My contributions to this part include writing goals 3-5, as well as half of the annotated bibliography. The goals I wrote, as well as the articles I annotated, are all focused on the marketing of library services through social media, especially Twitter, Facebook, and a library blog. The goals include specific tasks and guidelines for social media use; this type of marketing is not a one-way street, but is inherently interactive. Social media must be monitored closely by library staff to ensure proper posting and responses.

This shows that I understand the importance of marketing library services to users online. A public library really needs to have an online presence. Some people may prefer using one social media platform over others, so librarians must go where the users are to bring them the information they need. For the right person, this type of marketing could become an enjoyable way to get to know patrons and their wants and needs. I have already begun to apply what I have learned about social media in this particular project; I recently took charge of the Twitter account for the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center.

My third piece of evidence is a discussion post from LIBR 282 (Discussion Customer Analytics).  The class was a seminar on managing information technology; in this discussion we responded to a case study in which an organization was presented with advanced customer behavior analytics technology. Was there a way to ethically and responsibly use the information? One important part of management is being able to say “no” sometimes, especially when the technology would violate a core value - in this case, privacy. Even though the technology seems like it would have advantages – in the case study, the insurance company could make correlations between grocery store purchases and customer health data – but the disadvantages may outweigh whatever would be gained. A health insurance company is not the same as an information center, but they do face the same type of privacy issues when medical records are involved.

In the discussion post, I argue that using the new technology could not only violate the security and privacy of their customers, but they could actually lose customers. I advise against using the technology. “The question of making a poor investment is important, since information and communications technology takes up an increasing percentage of the service’s budget,” according to Evans and Ward (p. 456). Libraries generally have less money to spend on new technology, so we must be very careful what we choose to invest in.


Through work experience and what I have learned in LIBR 204 and LIBR 282, I will be able to approach any management opportunity with the requisite knowledge and skills to be successful. Managing an information center brings its own benefits and challenges that are not found in other organizations. The most important point is that a library manager must be flexible and not get mired in something that is not working – whether it is a management style, type of plan, particular marketing tactic, or even social media platform. Knowledge of the various methods and philosophies will help me adjust to whatever the setting and situation call for.


Evans, G. E., & Ward, P. L. (2007). Management basics for information professionals (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

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