Decision-Making in the Absence of Certainty: A Study in the Context of Technology and the Construction of the 21st Century Academic Library (PIL #63)

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors

Decision-Making in the Absence of Certainty is an in depth study of the often surprising decision making process at five American universities that built new libraries at the dawn of the 21st century. Their collective decision to invest many millions of dollars in technology and physical space is a testament to their perceptive commitment to a vision that the very best for students and faculty is a library where both technology and the physical space are well designed.

Mash explores such questions as: How do we bring together the richness of physical space and the effectiveness of technology to achieve a learning environment that reaps the best of both? What decision making model can help library leaders face ambiguity about the future as they navigate this complex, high stakes, and expensive task? Readers will gain personal and professional insights that expand to any setting where high stakes decision making is combined with ambiguity and complexity.

Decision-Making in the Absence of Certainty is #63 in the ACRL Publications in Librarianship (PIL) series.


1. Libraries, Technology, and Visions of the Future
2. Institutional Decision Making: Not Just Politics
3. Technology Forecasts: Caveat Emptor
4. Research Methodology and Decision Maker Distinctives
5. Problems Need Solutions and Solutions Need Problems
6. Building the Library: How Decisions Happened
Conclusion: Making Peace with Ambiguity

Addendum: Research Design

About the Author

S. David Mash

S. David Mash, a native Texan, graduated from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of North Texas. In addition to undergraduate and graduate work in psychology and theology, he is also a graduate of the higher education administration Ph.D. program at the University of South Carolina. He presently serves as the dean of library services at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship.