Librarians and the Emerging Research Library: a Case Study of Complex Individual and Organizational Development


The purpose of this case study was to increase the knowledge base of how research librarians experience and cope with the turbulence of change within their library system. This research also examined the issues that surround the organizational structures and leadership of transformative change in one research library. A library belonging to the Association of Research Libraries was selected for case study investigation. Seventeen librarians participated in on-site interviews, utilizing a protocol composed of a clustering technique and semi-structured interviewing. Instrumental case studies of each individual were then developed through a collective case method to present the intrinsic case study of the library system as an organization. Data were analyzed primarily through a complex systems theoretical framework while at the same time were grounded in a broad literature base of organizational, leadership, individual change, and library organizational development theories. The findings of the study include: the competing tensions between the physical and virtual environments, the search for professional meaning, coping with the experiences of professional change, the evolution of the organizational structure, and leadership as a shared experience. Analysis of the findings suggest: the emergence of a hypercritical state, the limiting nature of negative feedback, a complex systems framework for professional thinking, coping in the hypercritical organization, the emergence of disorder in the complex system, the blending of self-organizing systems with structural feedback mechanisms, and the complexity of leadership in the new research library.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Gilstrap, D. (2007). Librarians and the Emerging Research Library: a Case Study of Complex Individual and Organizational Development. Norman: University of Oklahoma.