20 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 291 2017 Intrapreneurship in Libraries Intrapreneurship offers libraries an organic approach to structural change. Reflecting on Stoffle, Renaud, and Veldof’s seminal 1996 essay “Choosing Our Futures,”2 Neal proclaims that “we must dismantle traditional organizational structures to create more agile advancement and more robust internal and external communications and collaborations.”3 It seems that even 20 years after the initial call to arms for organizational change, libraries are still struggling to become more flexible and agile. Intrapreneurship offers an opportunity to alleviate some of this tension through lightweight initiatives that can work within the existing structure. Organizations can address emerging areas of customer need that may not fit into existing portfolios. Indeed, one of Batthini’s definitions of intrapreneurship was the “internal start-up” model: establishing a joint venture, a new subsidiary, a new outlet, or a new business unit.4 In a library context, intrapreneurship’s internal start- up model is often seen in holistic librarianship: cross-departmental, project-based collaborations. This can begin an intrapreneurial culture shift in an organization that breeds flexibility and resilience. Library technology, too, is ripe for intrapreneurial innovation. We all struggle to meet users’ growing expectations of online services and products with our limited budgets and resources. It is a challenge to keep library staff members’ technology skills up to date when low turnover minimizes opportunities to add staff members with new skill sets to the team. Providing quality professional development in this area can be expensive and hard to deliver at scale. Library leaders in charge of training-fund allocation may not be aware of these skill deficits or fully understand the impact they have on service delivery, making it difficult to direct development opportunities. Intrapreneurship offers libraries an organic approach to structural change.
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