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The death of the book? One library's response to change

This presentation examines one academic library that is being dramatically affected by technology through the lenses of Logic, Turbulence, Culture, and Psychic Prisons.

Lianne Hartman

on 9 December 2010

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Transcript of The death of the book? One library's response to change

Rather than being independent from their environments, organizations (including MMCC library) maintain their environment while maintaining themselves. (Morgan, 244)

In the context of this problem, the library may perceive threats to the traditional print-based collection as coming from outside. If organizations are self-referential, however, this may not be entirely the case. Let's take a closer look... autopoiesis "fixed notion of who they are and what they can be and are determined to impose or sustain that identity at all costs" (Morgan, 248) egocentric organizations UNFOLDING LOGICS OF CHANGE TURBULENCE THEORY CULTURE PSYCHIC
PRISONS So what does the increasing digital availability of books mean for the library's identity? shifting attractors "Order is natural - its precise nature can never be planned or predetermined" (Morgan, 256) So far, MMCC library has not completely embraced or completely refuted ebooks. Stanford engineering library, however, took a drastic step to impose order. "Create 'new contexts' to break the holds of dominant attractor patterns in favor of new ones" (Morgan 257) New contexts at
MMCC Library include ... serving online learners
24/7 availability of resources for busy, working students
space constraints - smaller library footprint in new renovation plans
college pressure to continue to be "Tops in Technology" New understandings at MMCC Flickr user Proserpina_ Flickr user Alice Chaos BUT.. are these new contexts strong enough to pull the powerful attractors of traditional libraries? BOOK
CENTERED Mutual Causality "in the long run, survival can only be survival with, not survival against, the environment" (Morgan 249) MMCC Library will not survive as it currently exists if all related systems undergo radical change. Flickr user bdewey shifting attractors from Anderson (2009), p. 139-141 Google books is game-changer #1
Patron-driven acquisition is game-changer #2
Marginalization of print is game-changer #3
Open access is game-changer #4
The economic crisis is game-changer #5 attractors also exist on a local context... 70% of college students associate "library" first and foremost with books
(OCLC, 2008, p.3-23) Dialectical Change "potential new futures always create oppositions with the status quo" (Morgan 282) "Of the seven million books that Google reportedly had digitized by November 2008, one million are works in the public domain; one million are in copyright and in print; and five million are in copyright but out of print" (Darnton 14) "both dimensions of the contractions that accompany change have merit" (Morgan 283) Let's examine... Thesis Anti-thesis New Thesis growth of ebooks libraries = books "new innovations lead to the destruction of established practice" (Morgan 284) creative destruction Now MMCC library is striking a balance, purchasing both traditional and ebooks Flickr user PatrickGage Flickr user diffendale Logics of change can illuminate how MMCC library, while it can't control the change it is a part of, can affect small changes that build over time. Flickr user dovi Next, let's examine the situation in terms of turbulence faced by this organization... Levels of Turbulence Turbulence Gauge Light



Extreme Little or no disruption

Widespread aware-ness of the issue

A sense of crisis

Structural damage to reform MMCC library is experiencing a moderate level of turbulence. There is anxiety over budgets and space and these pressures on purchasing print books and ebooks.

If the library were experiencing severe turbulence, there would be institutional pressure to cease purchasing print books.

If the library were only experiencing mild turbulence, budgets and space would accommodate purchasing both print and ebooks. Positionality "It is important to understand the relative situation of individuals in the organization in a multi-dimensional fashion" (Gross, 2009) "If students were given the choice between using either a print book or the book's electronic equivalent, 66 percent would choose the print book while only 34 percent would prefer the e-book" (Gregory 269) MMCC library should not overlook students' perspectives Flickr user Malias groups of students (as organized by gender, race, age, SES, or years in the community, for instance) may experience it [turbulence] differently (Gross, 2009) "will conventional books limit themselves to fulfilling the needs of the most disfavoured social groups, or will they become luxury objects for collectors?" (del Corral 149) Remember:
not all students have easy Internet access Cascading "...all of the little nothings wend in their own way into a powerful something." (Gross, quoted 2010) increased political pressure to reduce costs growing perception that "everything is online" accountability measures prize use - difficult to justify unused books "Every significant library activity or process has been usurped by one or more social networking tools" (Law 60) 64% of students say search engines "fit perfectly with their lifestyle." (OCLC, 2008) Stability In the face of cascading institutional and broader social and cultural pressures, the MMCC library could benefit from leadership that embraces DIALOGUE
INNOVATION (Gross, 2001) Unfortunately, Current leadership is
uncritically enamored by technology
reactive rather than proactive
unable to create a shared vision In short, the instability will have a negative impact on turbulence levels and cascading. Especially given The transition to more eresources is dramatically changing the day-to-day work tasks of many long-term employees.
Technology skills are highly prized.
Some are worried that their jobs dealing with print materials will cease to exist.
There is a generational gap in the culture.
New cross-departmental teams are forming. Other libraries undergoing major staff changes found that strong leadership and communication is required (Higa et al, 51) Let's examine how the lens of culture helps us understand how this library can move through this turbulent state in a democratic and ethical manner. TRADITION THREATS Flickr user asimpledarksquid Flickr user cobrasick Culture "Organizations are in essence socially constructed realities that are as much in the minds of their members as they are in concrete structures, rules, and relations" (Morgan 137) The culture of MMCC library is undergoing change due to an influx of new employees, who bring their own personalities as well as ideas and norms from their former employers Flickr user clintjcl Context of cultural change The nature of librarians' work is changing, with an increasing emphasis on collaboration. In a study of changing job ads, Lynch & Smith found that "Requirements for 'flexibility,' 'creativity,' and 'leadership' also suggest that libraries were paying closer attention to interactions between librarians and library users. The library as a passive warehouse of collections was no more" (p.418) This 1946 video of the "Life of the Librarian" highlights old occupational norms and expectations. "The findings of this study reveal a significant gap between future leaders' perceptions of current organizational culture and the culture in which they feel they would be more effective" (335 Maloney et al ) Clashing subcultures Clashing subcultures MMCC library would benefit from a more flexible, collaborative culture to adapt to the changing publishing and academic landscapes. Many new employees would prefer an adhocracy over the current hierarchy. "when groups with very different occupational attitudes are placed in a relation of dependence, organizations can become plagued by a kind of subcultural warfare" (Morgan 133) Culture is a helpful way of understanding how people in this organization may face change together, but it does not take into account the role of the irrational unconscious, which I'll examine next in organization as Psychic Prison. Flickr user quitelucid "Much of the knowledge through which we organize our world can thus be seen as protecting us from the idea that, ultimately, we probably understand and control very little" (Morgan 221) Control Some of the “rules” that exist in libraries are the strong traditional functions that they have historically performed ... the degree of innovation, from incremental to radical, can lead to a modification or replacement of rules. (Weiner 72) in libraries... Control, cont. At MMCC library, issues of control and immortality need to be considered as the library faces changes (and challenges) to its identity. In popular culture, librarians are often portrayed as rule-happy, as cookie monster finds out in this clip. Dolls, Teddy Bears, and Books? Flickr user shelbychicago "When these phenomenon are challenged, basic identities are challenged. The fear of loss ... generates a reaction that may be out of all proportion to the importance of the issue" (Morgan 228). With the loss of the physical card catalog, stamps, and other objects, staff's relationship to books are complicated. "This unconscious dynamic may help explain why some organizations have been unable to cope with the changing demands of their environment and why there is often so much unconscious resistance to change in organizations. (Morgan 228) The metaphor of Psychic Prisons also illuminates the effect of the librarian archetype... Archetypes and organization "The dark side of the good and fertile Mother who gives life is the Crone, the Mother of Death. Becoming well acquainted with the unhuman, impersonal figures in ourselves and others allows us to be human in their presence. Our response to their presence then moves beyond reactionary, inhuman, and stereotyped" (Engle) Engle sees the librarian "crone" archetype as the shadow of the original Great Mother archetype of the first librarians. The Problem start here The Problem Like many libraries, Mary Mount Community College Library (MMCC) is facing new threats & opportunities. This presentation focuses on the library's response to the increasing pressure to purchase ebooks, rather than traditional print books and to decrease the existing collection for library renovations.

How does this change impact the day-to-day work of library employees and the mission and identity of the library? How can these perspectives help move us forward? Books vs. EBooks "The historic mission of libraries is finished, our buildings will gradually disappear over the next 100 years, and the portable e-book, once perfected, will drive the last nail into our collective coffins" (Wisner 68) New technologies will always bring anxiety to those who are invested in the traditional. Even the book itself is a technology!
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