Vision 2020 – Staffing

We’ll focus on each of OLA Vision 2020′s four statements in hopes of generating a discussion on what the visions mean for academic librarians.  All feedback is welcome – brainstorming new roles/services, critical analyses of the vision, services ACRL Oregon should be providing, etc!  We’ll forward all comments to the OLA Vision 2020 Committee so our communities’ voices are heard.


In 2020, library staff and library advocates will know they are part of nimble, supportive and creative organizations. Our libraries will be staffed and supported by:

• Leaders who demonstrate a commitment to experimentation and innovation.
• Individuals who are open to new ways of doing things.
• Lifelong learners who can build on successes and failures alike.
• Leaders who devote resources to staff development and training.
• People who are educated and empowered to effectively advocate for their organizations, their communities and the information profession.

We hope you will share your thoughts on how to bring the vision to fruition over the next 10 years!


  1. To get this type of leadership on a broader scale than present, we need to break two tyrannies of the hiring process:

    1. Prior experience managing staff.
    2. Prior experience managing budgets.

    These two typical baseline job requirements for managers means that our applicant pool is largely limited to Tech Services people, or managers (who probably came out of Tech Services) who aren’t particularly good, but keep getting hired ‘because they have experience.’ It reminds me of baseball teams that hire managers who have never been winners, ‘but they have experience.’

    Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get administrative hirer-ups (pun intended) to buy into this idea.

  2. I think one of the biggest challenges for the staffing vision is the tension between time for training and development and the pressure to keep current library operations running efficiently.

    Staff carry out myriad routine tasks and procedures involved in the library enterprise and I’ve observed that they are rarely freed up for training and opportunities to explore new approaches.

    As Tony mentions, the managers/administrators are a critical factor to creating a culture where all library staff are empowered.

    The OLA Support Staff Division blog has an interesting post that reviews the barriers:

  3. Hi Tony and Diane-

    I like both of your points a lot – thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I am going to take a different tack though since I am thinking that regarding the point on “Leaders who devote resources to staff development and training.” – what if ACRL Oregon tried to partner with various library administrations to bring continuing education opportunities, such as ACRL National e-learning workshops, to library staff throughout the state? Cooperative thinking gets all of us further towards the goal of keeping all library staff empowered and with up-to-date skills during times of extreme financial stress.

    Tony do you have any ideas on how we can support and nurture people who will become/are leaders? Support and nurture all library staff too?

    I have heard many people say that there is so much for them to do that taking the time to comment on things like Vision 2020 doesn’t seem very important. So I just wanted to say thanks for taking your time to send your thoughts.

  4. Robin-

    When it comes to shared staff development and training, I know that Portland Community College library got a grant to survey all Oregon libraries about their continuing education needs. I don’t know what the next step on that one is, but I’m pretty sure the survey has been completed. (I’m not involved with that project, but others might have fuller information.) Whatever comes of that might serve to fill the continuing education goal.

    As far as supporting and nurturing potential leaders, I doubt the tyranny of experience will ever be overthrown, so directors who want to nurture leadership talent outside of Tech Services will need to find a way to give other librarians some budget and supervisory responsibilities. Giving them a closed-end project to manage might be one way.

    I should be clear that I don’t want to sound like I’m slandering Tech Services folks as potential leaders. My point is that as long as we insist on budgetary and supervisory experience, we are only drawing on the leadership potential of 20% or so of the library pool.

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