Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 291 2017
as an entity or organization, “thinking about organizational culture
therefore involves recognizing the inseparability of binaries—together
and apart, general and unique, structures and agents, organizations
and identities—in sum, organizational culture as a constraint and as
an everyday accomplishment.”8 Diversity both within and between
departments and positions is critical, as colleagues rely on one
another individually and collectively for their respective areas of
expertise and experience. Further, it is intrinsic to a collaborative
model to distinguish varying cultures, identities, and structures
with siloed work, services, and collections, because having divisions,
departments, or other types of organization in staffing provides
structure. It is vital to recognize that within all libraries, there is a
centralized, overarching goal: that the library exists to serve their
constituents. The vision and approach of each department on how
to achieve the overarching goal may differ, but it is the responsibility
of each group to determine how to work integratively among
departmental (micro) cultures and the whole library (macro) cultures.
By creating an environment that is flexible and culturally accepting
of experimentation, new avenues of collaboration and cross-training
can take place. The organizational
culture of an institution can
either foster experimentation and
innovation, or in turn, it might work
against those principles through
continued siloing of expertise and
compartmentalizing of departments,
collections, or services. It is noted
that “unlike hierarchical bureaucracies, the ability to innovate is most
frequently associated with an open, entrepreneurial mind-set in an
organization.”9 Anytime innovative projects are implemented, there
is always a risk of them not working out. Cultivating a culture open
to innovation needs to happen across departments, not only with
top-down approval but horizontally in departmental and individual
librarian practices. “For librarians…to risk that possible failure, there
must be a culture where they first feel valued, secure and respected.”10
By creating an environment
that is flexible and cultural-
ly accepting of experimenta-
tion, new avenues of collab-
oration and cross-training
can take place.
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