SPEC Kit 331: Changing Role of Senior Administrators  · 11
Executive Summary
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 adminis-
trative 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 addi-
tional challenges and responsibilities: defining the
strategic direction of the organization, articulating its
vision, and participating more explicitly in the aca-
demic 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 man-
age what once was exclusively director-level work.
This survey focused on the professional, admin-
istrative, and management positions that report di-
rectly to the library director (or in some ARL member
libraries the position that serves as the representa-
tive 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 responsibili-
ties. Forty-six of the 126 member libraries responded
to the survey between March 12 and April 16 for a
response rate of 37%.
Titles and Responsibilities of Senior-Level
The survey asked respondents to identify which se-
nior positions reported directly to the library director
in 2007 and in 2012. The positions identified have a
variety of titles, including deputy director, associate
director, vice provost, and director, manager, or head
of a division, department, or branch library. Overall,
the number of positions reporting to the director has
not changed in the past five years; however, many
libraries are changing senior administrative-level re-
sponsibilities and the titles of those reporting to the
director. All but three of the libraries responding to the
survey (95%) have altered senior administrative-level
positions or introduced new positions in the past five
years. Of those, 25 (58%) have changed half to all of
their positions, and 13 (30%) have made only minor
changes. There is also a significant elevation in the ti-
tles of positions reporting to library directors, moving
away from head and assistant titles to associate and di-
rector titles, with the number of deputy librarian titles
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