Management by Peers or Who's in Charge Here?

 

Francie C. Davis
Reference and Electronic Resources Librarian
Department Coordinator
Dowling College
Idle Hour Boulevard
Oakdale, NY 11769-1999
davisf@dowling.edu
Suzanne Terry
Reference Librarian
Former Department Coordinator
Dowling College
Idle Hour Boulevard
Oakdale, NY 11769-1999
gterrys@dowling.edu
Abstract
Problem
Peer Management Is Empowering!
Peer Diminishes Accountability
Peer Management Leads to Campus Respect
Peer Management Is Frustrating
Peer Management Is Not Understood in a Hierarchical World!
Peer Management Creates Powerless Leaders
Peer Management Does Not Have the Final Authority
Conclusion
Additional Reading
 

Abstract

Dowling College Library, a self-governing department with no director, has a unique organizational structure. It is a flat organization with each full time member having an equal vote. The Department Coordinator, elected by peers, has the same one vote as the others and has no authority over her peers. The Library reports directly to the Provost. The 7 full-time faculty librarians are responsible for running all professional aspects of the library. There is an Information Services Director, a non-librarian with an MBA, responsible for a hierarchically structured clerical staff and overseeing facility management. This position frees and enables the librarians to do their professional duties without being bogged down by clerical tasks but the two different organizational structures within the library offer the potential for conflict.

This poster session will discuss the pros and cons of our unusual structure and examine some of the following:

 
Problem:

Dowling College Library has a flat organization with no director. The librarians are responsible for the professional administration of the library and the Director of Information Services, a non-librarian MBA is responsible for both the administration of the physical plant and the clerical staff, thus freeing the librarians to perform their professional duties. The librarians report directly to the Provost. Like other academic departments, the Department Coordinator is elected by peers but has no authority over his/her peers. This unique structure is at once empowering and constraining.

Peer Management Is Empowering!

Peer Management Diminishes Accountability! Peer Management Leads to Campus Respect Peer Management Is Frustrating Peer Management Is Not Understood in a Hierarchical World! Peer Management Creates Powerless Leaders Peer Management Does Not Have the Final Authority Conclusion:

Peer Management

Additional Reading Besemer, Susan P., "Managing the academic library through teamwork: A case study," Journal of Library Administration 18 (1993) pp. 69-91.

Bloss, Alex, "The library department head in the context of matrix management and reengineering," College and Research Libraries 58 (November 1997) pp. 499-509.

Bluck, Robert, "Team management and academic libraries: A case study at the University of Northumbria," British Journal of Academic Librarianship 9 (1994) pp. 224-242.

Chadbourne, Robert D., "Management team acts as director," Wilson Library Bulletin 66 (March 92) pp.11.

Graves, Diane J., "Training for better management: an interview with members of the ARL/OMS training team," Library Administration & Management 9 (Fall 1995) pp.198-202.

Hawkins, Katherine W., "Implementing team management in the modern library," Library Administration & Management 4 (Winter 1990) pp.11-15.

Mahmoodi, Suzanne H. & Geraldine King, "Top management team competencies developed for public librarians," Library Personnel News 6 (Nov./Dec. 1992) pp.1+.

Ohlrich, Karen B., "What are we? Library media information specialists, computer technology coordinators, teacher instructional consultants, school-based management team members, or what?" School Library Media Activities Monthly 12 (May 1996) pp. 26-8+.

Scott, R. Neil, "Athletic team building: A management model for developing effective libraries," Mississippi Libraries 56 (Winter 1992) pp.107-110.

"Teamwork in Hertfordshire: Four-member management team replace director,"

Library Association Record 96 (Feb. 1994) pp.72.

Voyles, Jeanne F., "The changing role of the student employee in a team based organization," Journal of Library Administration 21 (1995) pp. 109-124.

White, Herbert S., "Never mind being innovative and effective – just be nice!" Library Journal 120 (15 September 1995) pp. 47-9.

White, Herbert S., "Smearing with a broad brush: Diversity is essential in team management," Library Journal 120 (15 October 1995) pp. 41-2.

White, Herbert S., "The library implications of individual and team empowerment," Library Journal 118 (15 June 1993) pp. 47-9.

           White, Herbert S., "Tyranny of the ‘Team,’" Library Journal 118 (15 April 1989) pp. 54-56.