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The leaders in our libraries today find themselves in an often untenable position. Library budgets have largely not kept up with the increasing costs of everything that library users expect their libraries to have. Whether they are managing a single library or leading a system of libraries, library leaders are squeezed by a long and growing list of what the library could provide from and what they can afford to provide.
Many library leaders have turned to the art of negotiation – with funders, with vendors and with their users – to not only manage expectations and get as much out of every dollar. This pressure has also driven many libraries to revisit and change the mix of skills of staff in their libraries. This has included reassessing the skills and training of everyone, up to and including the Director. Some notable libraries have hired executives instead of librarians, while others have ensured their Director had or could receive the training to be an executive on par with peers that are running other large institutions.
Library leaders today are representatives of everything their libraries could be to potential supporters and users. They sometimes have to leverage what they can do today against what they know will be absolutely critical to their success tomorrow and in the future. This is why so many library leaders have been working diligently with publishers to secure a role for libraries with the e-book revolution and why free Internet access is such a cornerstone of library services in every type of library today.
Library leaders are constantly balancing the task of managing their library today and helping to support it as it grows and changes to become what its users will need in the future. Library leaders don’t have to be visionaries – but they do have to find opportunities to support the visionaries in their libraries that will make tomorrow’s libraries a reality.
The leadership of our libraries today – and probably for generations to come – will never see their libraries stable and secure in what is expected of them. The opportunity they have, however, is to be part of ushering in new models of service and new experiences for their users and their communities.
ProQuest partners every day with library leaders and negotiates to bring a broad range of content and services into every type of library that exists in our society today. From historical news to unique primary resources and from discovery solutions to tools that manage the research workflow – ProQuest wants to help library leaders succeed.