The Academic Library Administrator's Field Guide

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The daily administration of an academic library often leaves you needing quick advice on the topic at hand. Nelson, an experienced administrator writing from first-hand knowledge, delivers such advice in 30 topical chapters. Each chapter begins with an "Assertion," a one-sentence summary allowing you to rapidly scan the book and find what you need. When you're on the job you can dip into this guide for ready-to-use guidance on the full range of administrator responsibilities, such as

  • How to think and act politically
  • Preparing staff for safety and security procedures
  • Influencing student and faculty's perception of the library as a basic component of education
  • Fostering librarians' professional identity as teachers
  • Communicating effectively, from email messages to meetings
  • Assessment and systematic collection of data

Commentary sections in each chapter offer observations and interpretation, with abundant examples of useful advice. If you want to dig further into a topic, a Readings section points you to resources. Packed with insight about the day-to-day operations of the academic library, Nelson's guide will be invaluable to new and experienced administrators alike.




Part I: Being Politically Effective

Chapter 1: Rationale: Mission, Goals, and Strategic Plan

Chapter 2: Perceptions: Library Components Are Basic to Education

Chapter 3: Political Influence: Roles of an Effective Leader

Chapter 4: Organizational Chart: The Academic Side, with Dotted Lines

Chapter 5: Context: Monitoring and Interpreting Trends

Chapter 6: Academic Ceiling: Dependencies and Levels of Quality

Chapter 7: Faculty: Gatekeepers of Library Usage

Chapter 8: Unexpected Events: Planning for Safety and Security

Part II: Managing and Leading Staff

Chapter 9: Beginning: Starting a New Position

Chapter 10: The Job: Nature of Administrative Work

Chapter 11: New Hires: Administrators’ Roles and Accountability

Chapter 12: Priorities: Aligning Work with Library Needs

Chapter 13: Professional Development: Investing In All Staff

Chapter 14: Accountability: Monitoring and Evaluating Work

Chapter 15: Decision-Making: Processes for Library Governance

Chapter 16: Communication: Internal and External Messages

Chapter 17: The Tone: Desirable and Productive Workplace

Chapter 18: How Are You? Issues of Health and Well-Being

Chapter 19: Change: Recognizing Need and Leading Change

Chapter 20: Errors in Judgment: Understanding and Learning

Chapter 21: Ending: Making a Transition

Part III: Supervising Operations

Chapter 22: Budget: Spending It All

Chapter 23: Librarians Who Teach: Professional Identity As Educators

Chapter 24: Building: Designed for Teaching, Learning, and Technology

Chapter 25: Collections: Meeting High Expectations for Content

Chapter 26: Website and Social Media: Designed for Maximum Use

Chapter 27: Technology: As Good As Anywhere on Campus

Chapter 28: Open Access to Information: Evidence of High Value

Chapter 29: Intellectual Property: Define, Educate, and Model

Chapter 30: Assessment: Describe, Understand, and Use


Bryce Nelson, Ph.D.

Bryce Nelson, Ph.D., was University Librarian at Seattle Pacific University, and director of the libraries for the Seattle Public Schools. He is affiliate faculty at the University of Washington's Information School, and Seattle Pacific University's School of Education. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Washington.

"Although meant for academic administrators, the topics covered would be useful for all library administrators, especially the section on staff relationships—first impressions, accountability, professional development, establishing priorities, and communication ... Lucky are the librarians who work with a supervisor who applies even one third of the recommendations provided here."

"Readers falling between the student and administrator stages will find several chapters of interest - not least for beginning to understand what an administrator does."
— Australian Library Journal