Document Type



Library and Information Science


In alignment with ARL’s strategic focus Transforming Research Libraries, designed to articulate, promote, and facilitate new and expanding roles for ARL libraries that enable and enrich the transformations affecting research and research-intensive education, this study has probed the nature of administrative positions that support accomplishing these objectives. The ongoing evolution within these organizations and the roles of those who work in them is mirrored in the administrative structure of the academic library. Two decades ago, it was largely the library director who managed the organization, perhaps with assistance from an associate in public and technical services, or from a single deputy. The metamorphosis of higher education has put new demands on libraries to be agile, engaged, and responsive in diverse ways. Hernon, Powell, and Young (2001) have described the university library director’s role as a position in transition over this same period. The library’s chief executive now has additional challenges and responsibilities: defining the strategic direction of the organization, articulating its vision, and participating more explicitly in the academic life of the parent institution. As a result, aspects of library management and leadership are being taken on more fully by members of a senior administrative team possessing a skill set that enables them to manage what once was exclusively director-level work.

This survey focused on the professional, administrative, and management positions that report directly to the library director (or in some ARL member libraries the position that serves as the representative to the association), positions that have not been examined by a SPEC survey since 1984. It explored the responsibilities of these positions, and the skills, qualifications, and competencies necessary for these administrators to successfully lead a transforming 21st century research library. It looked at whether and how position requirements have changed in the past decade, whether the number of direct reports has changed, whether these administrators have assumed new areas of organizational responsibility, and how they acquire the new skills to fulfill those responsibilities. Forty-six of the 126 member libraries responded to the survey between March 12 and April 16 for a response rate of 37%.