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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2018

10 - A kaleidoscope of change: how library management can support the development of new learning environments

from Part 2 - Policy into practice


Academic librarians and libraries are undergoing significant change. The importance of effective and visionary management and leadership in such a context cannot be under-emphasized. Philip Payne explores this management challenge, highlighting skills and approaches and concluding with a case study of management approaches to e-services development. The role of the manager, using Drucker's words, is to be ‘the dynamic, life-giving element in every business’ (Drucker, 1955, 3). As Philip – and indeed this whole collection – highlights, for managers in the HE context that ‘business’ is changing rapidly. Consequently, the vision of the library and learning support service manager in this chapter is of someone who aligns the service with institutional and external drivers and who creates learner-centred and student-facing environments. It is apt that this chapter is the final practitioner perspective, as it reflects many of the themes covered throughout this collection but from the perspective of a service manager.

The changing higher education environment

Libraries and learning support services are experiencing a kaleidoscope of change. As echoed in Section 1 of this collection, the pace of this change is accelerating as higher education itself is going through a revolution. Rapid change is being fuelled by wider societal and economic influences such as technological change, increased globalization, greater consumerism, moves towards greater social inclusion, and the need to develop and maintain a more skilled workforce. The higher education environment, in turn, is being transformed by increased student numbers, greater focus on meeting student expectations, more emphasis upon widening participation, concern with the development of lifelong learning skills, the emergence of new subject disciplines and decline of more traditional ones and the increased use of technology in learning.

Each institution is responding in its own way to these changes, and to the greater emphasis being placed upon HE institutions as businesses. Each seeks to position itself to make the most of the challenges that change brings and to seize the opportunities that arise. The way that they do so will depend upon factors such as their size, location, mission and the institutional strategies that they choose to adopt. Libraries in each of our institutions are influenced by how the wider context is interpreted in their host institutions. However, libraries are themselves being metamorphosed by the technological change which transforms the way that information is organized and retrieved.