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close this bookInternational Reader in the Management of Library, Information and Archive Services (UNESCO, 1987, 684 p.)
close this folder1. Management, information and development
close this folder1.3 Management and the information service
View the documentOrganization: in general and in principle
View the documentManagement Training and Background
View the documentOn library management (I)
View the documentOn library management (II)
View the documentThe library manager

Management Training and Background

G. Edward EVANS

Every organization must have someone who makes things go well, which is what management is all about. Human beings have kept things going for thousands of years, of course, but schools of management and business administration are recent phenomena. These schools have developed and prospered, though, only because persons educated in them seem to succeed at keeping things going better than those who have not been exposed to principles of management.

Some years ago, Yale economist Charles Lindbloom described "the science of 'muddling' through.” You will probably always have to muddle through as a manager, regardless of your training, but the amount of muddling generally goes down as the amount of training goes up. Unfortunately, libraries and other NFP and governmental organizations have been rather slow to see the need for formal training in management.

Formal training for management in the profit sector places heavy emphasis on fiscal control. Because money and materials are more predictable variables than human beings, a person can effectively use formulas, models, and theories to successfully solve a problem (for example, increasing profits or changing a loss to a profit). Libraries deal in rather imprecisely defined services to what is most often a very heterogeneous population. Lacking precise goals and measures of achievement, then, they and a great many other service organizations have, in the past, seen little need for formal training in management.

Over the past 20 years, though, the notion that any librarian can be a manager has shifted to the recognition that a need exists for some formal background in management. Format training can provide some understanding of the basic elements of managerial activities, since, over the years, managers have accumulated a large body of literature about their activities, both successful and unsuccessful.

The remainder of this chapter explores what some writers have had to say about management, management theory, people and organizations, and what roles managers play.


Before answering the question of what mangers do, we need to distinguish between management and administration. A widely accepted distinction, and the one that this book employs, is that administrators establish fundamental patterns of operation and goals for an organization, white managers primarily carry out the directions of the administrators. In the profit sector, the board of directors is empowered to establish the overall direction of an organization (as administrators), while the officers of the company (from the president down) are the managers. Very often the top/senior officials of the company also are members of the board of directors; hence, outsiders. and lower-level employees often have difficulty making a distinction between management and administration

Practically all librarians, including library directors when they are in their librarian role, are managers rather than administrators. Since almost all libraries are part of a larger organizational unit (corporation, educational institution, or government unit), libraries must operate within a body of guidelines, goals, objectives, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, etc. that are formulated by others. Managers are not, however, without influence and a void in the establishment of these directions. Quite often a manager or a director sees the need for a change, formulates specific suggestions for that change, and passes these suggestions on to the person(s) empowered to make decisions. A properly functioning situation includes cooperation between manager(s) and an administrative body that is based on mutual respect.

Now, just what do managers do? Many answers to that question occur; however, the question can be seen from two points of view-function and behavior. Some examples of functions are planning, directing, budgeting, etc.; behavior is defined in the sense of roles filled, such as leader. Writers tend to take one side or the other. Most basic management textbooks seem to take a functional approach. Advanced level books seem to favor the behavioral approach. This book, white organized according to functions, explores behavioral aspects as well. In the next few pages I explore a few of the approaches that have been employed by some important writers in the field of management.

To gain an idea of what managers do, try this experiment. Approach a person you know to be a manager, director, or unit head, or someone who is responsible for overseeing the work of someone else (the scope of the individual's duties is not important in this context). Simply ask the person to tell you what he or she does. Do not be surprised if the response is something like "Well, I'm head of the reference department," or "I'm assistant director for technical services," or "I'm the director of the library." You must then probe further by saying "Fine, but tell me what you actually do during a typical work day." You will seldom get the answer "Oh, I direct, plan, control, delegate, budget, and hire and fire people." More often, the answer will be "I attend lots of boring meetings, write letters, reports, and memos, and listen to complaints. It seems like I never get anything done."

Presumably a manager who says something like "I never get my real work done" is referring to some of the classical concepts of the functions of a manager. One set of labels for these functions was set forth in a classic paper by Gulick and Urwick (1937). In it, they coined the acronym POSDCORB, which stands for the following functions:


These seven functions (for which labels may vary) are assumed to underlie, in one form or another, all management activities. They do not describe the work of a manager; they merely identify the objectives of a manager's work. At least one writer claims that, because the labels fail to describe what is actually done, they are of little use. This seems to be too harsh a judgment, for if we do not know where we are going (that is, if we do not have objectives), how shall we know when we get there? By studying the concepts covered by labels such as POSDCORB, a student can gain an understanding of what good management attempts to accomplish.

Various writers use slightly differing labels,, but all of them draw directly or indirectly from a set of concepts described by the French industrialist, Henri Fayol. After many years of profitably managing several unreIated industrial organizations, Fayol set down principles that he had found valuable in his work. All of his principles reflect the thinking of a practical person, not of someone concerned with developing a grand philosophy or a great theory. Fayol's concepts may seem to reflect common sense, but no management text in the United States identified them until the late 1940s (although he published his observations in 1916). Today his views fit extremely well into most contemporary thinking.

Fayol divided the activities of organizations into six fundamental groups: (1) technical, or production, aspects; (2) commercial aspects (buying, selling, and exchanging goods); (3) financial aspects (the search for, securing of, and efficient use of money); (4) security (protecting the safety of employees and property alike); (5) accounting (including statistics and record keeping); and (6) managerial activities (planning, organization, and control). At the time Fayol wrote his book, the sixth group had not been adequately defined; he devoted most of his attention to the question of defining managerial activities.

Fayol reasoned that a worker's most important attribute is the technical ability to carry out a prescribed function properly. As a worker rises in the hierarchy of an organization, the importance of managerial ability increases, until, at the top level, it becomes the basic requirement. Fayol thought that managerial skill could be acquired and that the best way to acquire it was through a combination of education and practical experience. In many ways, this view reflects my philosophy. Education in the fundamentals of management must be seasoned with experience in situations entailing real responsibilities and duties. When a solid background is lacking, learning on the job can be tedious and frustrating, because the manager-in-training needs a great deal of time to become a productive staff member. As libraries have come to recognize this problem, some larger systems have attempted to provide special management training. An example of on-the-job training is the trainee fellowships offered by the Council on Library Resources for a year-long work-study management program. The program is needed, because, until very recently, library schools did not offer courses in general management, and practitioners found themselves at times lacking basic information about management.

Fayol's entire list of activities is useful in the library situation. Production is obviously an aspect in the processes of cataloging books and making them ready for use. Buying, selling, and exchanging library materials certainly represent commercial activities. There is a clear financial aspect, in that administrators, and frequently the entire staff, are concerned with locating sources of funds to support library programs. Security is an important library concern whether it involves protection of material against theft and physical deterioration or the consideration of the safety of personnel and patrons. Anyone who has had experience with an acquisitions department recognizes the significance of the accounting function. And, finally, although a profit-loss statement does not exist for the library, good managerial skills are just as critical to the library as they are to a profit-making organization.


Fayol identified 14 principles of management.

Division of Work or Specialization It is best to assign workers to jobs fairly limited in scope, so that they can develop a high degree of skill. This promotes efficiency for the organization. Moreover, the superior has control, because only a small range of activities must be dealt with for any one person. Since division of work is necessary for efficiency; the only real question is how to handle the division. In a library, this can be by type of service or by type of material. Regardless of the method, it is important to consider a unit's direction and objectives. (See Chapter 6 for further details.)

Authority and Responsibility Authority and responsibility must go together. This may seem obvious, but very often, only responsibility is delegated, not authority. The frequency with which this principle is violated is surprising, yet the reason for this is quite evident. The person delegating authority always retains some responsibility for the accomplishment of a task; many managers are reluctant to delegate authority to subordinates, because they doubt that their subordinates can do the job. (This will be explored in more depth in Chapter 5.)

Discipline Clearly defined limits of acceptable behavior are absolutely necessary, so that everyone in an organization knows what can and cannot be done. When a rule is violated, it should be enforced equally and fairly by someone who is competent, understanding, and able to apply discipline. Often this principle is difficult for a supervisor to apply impartially, because a tendency exists, especially within the human-relations managerial style, to modify discipline in terms of non-work-related factors-a practice that may or may not benefit an organization as a whole. (See Chapter 12 for details.)

Unity of Command An employee should receive orders from only one supervisor. Yet, because of a number of interacting variables in any job situation, line and staff as authority become opposed to line and staff as function (see Chapter 6). For example, to whom should subject specialists report? Possibly to the head of technical services, because they are concerned with both the selection and the processing of acquired materials. However, subject specialists also answer specialized reference questions. Thus, their assignment to public services might seem logical. Yet most libraries with personnel of this type divide their duties between technical services and public services which clearly violates the principle of unity of command. Therefore, the specialist must satisfy the expectations and requirements of both departments. Frustration under such circumstances is easily understandable. Almost all readers have, at one time, found themselves working under two bosses simultaneously. I have experienced this situation as a nonprofessional in public and academic libraries and as a professional in academic and special libraries.

Unity of Direction There should be only one plan, and the person should be responsible for supervising it; all activities have the same objective should be supervised by one person. For example, bibliographic checking units should have one supervisor and one plan of operation, yet libraries frequently violate this principle by having a bibliographic checking unit in both the acquisitions and catalog departments. A plan to combine the units and satisfy both acquisitions and cataloging needs should be formulated. (See Chapters 7 and 8.)

Subordination of Individual to General Interest Fayol believed that the individual should subordinate self-interest to the general good. This is difficult, though. in a work situation in which employees perceive no managerial concern for individual well-being. It is incumbent upon management to reduce conflict between the individual and the general wellbeing wherever possible. (See Chapters 10 and 11.)

Remuneration Remuneration for work must be fair and accurate, affording maximum satisfaction for both employee and employer. Some libraries pay the minimum amount necessary, to hire an individual, but these systems obviously have no standards for hiring or promotion. The library manager must examine tasks, identify responsibilities, and decide upon a just level of compensation. The next step is to find someone to carry out the defined duties for the established salaries. (See Chapter 13.)

Centralization Fayol thought centralization of authority to be desirable, at least for overall control. Certainly, both formulation of policy and the generation of basic rules and procedures ought to be centralized. Managerial decisions may be made at a lower level, but only within the framework established by the central administrative authority. Many libraries adhere rather strongly to this principle, embracing the idea of centralization of authority, physical facilities, and services. (See Chapter 6.)

Lines of Command or Scalar Chain Organizations need a formalized hierarchy that reflects the flow of authority and responsibility. Fayol suggested that a chain of command is necessary most of the time, but, at times, it is best ignored. When the organization obviously will be harmed significantly by adherence to a hierarchical arrangement, the rule must be violated. (See Chapter 5.)

Order Relationships between various units must be established in a logical, rational manner, so that these units work in harmony

Equity Managers/supervisors elicit loyalty from employees only when they deal with them as individual persons. Employees must be seen as persons, not things to be manipulated. If managers hope to create a good working environment, they must treat everyone fairly and with equity (See Chapters 9, 10, and 11.)

Stability of Tenure A high turnover rate is expensive for an organization. Turnover of a high degree is both a cause and an effect of bad management, and one way of evaluating a manager/supervisor is to examine the turnover and absenteeism rate of persons working under that manager. A low turnover and absenteeism rate may or may not indicate a good manager, but a high rate indicates the existence of a problem that the manager/supervisor has failed to correct. Naturally, every time an employee leaves, the organization incurs significant costs in time and money spent recruiting, selecting, and training a new employee. Furthermore, the new employee will require time to become an integrated member of the staff. A person who is often absent can create bottlenecks in the flow of material, hindering the entire organization's efficiency (and often costing the organization far more than his or her salary). (See Chapters 12 and 13.)

Another form of absenteeism not usually reflected in statistics is that of employees who are "present but absent." These people arrive at the last possible moment, take longer than necessary to set up for work, begin coffee breaks early and drag them out, extend lunches beyond the normal schedule, and push cleanup further and further into the working period. The equivalent of one workday per week may be lost by such persons; if this happens, the supervisor (and the supervisor's supervisor) must examine the situation.

Initiative Initiative should be encouraged at all levels. and subordinates should be asked to submit plans and new ideas. All of these should be carefully reviewed, and each person who makes a suggestion should be informed as to its status. Although this principle is given lip service by many libraries, in actuality, it is often not practiced. For example, when personnel evaluation forms enquire about an employee's initiative, often the only true interest is in conformity (that is, lack of initiative). This was not Fayol's intention, and it should not be the intention of a good manager. (See Chapter 4.)

Esprit de Corps As a good Frenchman, Fayol believed in esprit de corps. He felt that all successful organizations survive only when a feeling of unity pervades the group and that viable organizations cleat with crises as a team. (See Chapters 9, 10, and 11.)

I emphasize Fayol's work because his ideas have served at the basis of most management writers since he published his book-as they do for this book.

Frequently, you will encounter articles discussing the question of whether management is an art or a science. Generally, these articles conclude that, despite many elements of science present, management is, in the final analysis, an art. Although you can learn basic concepts, principles, functions, and techniques as described by Fayol and others, each management situation is unique. Even when certain situations appear to be similar, the individuals involved will be different, whether in fact or just with the passage of time. Thus, what worked yesterday may or may not work today. Your ability to assess degrees of change is the real art of management.

As a manager, you will have to fill a number of roles in varying situations. The statement "I have to wear a number of hats" is truer than most people realize. In discussing what managers do, Henry Mintzberg identified 10 basic roles:

(1) figurehead,
(2) leader,
(3) liaison,
(4) monitor,
(5) disseminator,
(6) spokesman,
(7) entrepeneur,
(8) disturbance handler,
(9) resource allocator, and
(10) negotiator.

Although several of these roles have elements of the political process in them, the librarian in a publicly supported library needs to add a role to Mintzberg's list-politician. With all these roles to fill, it is not surprising to find most managers agreeing that management is an art form, not a scientific exercise. For this reason, throughout this book the behavioral aspect is tied to the functional activities.


A few words about the nature of formal organizations will help set the context in which behavioral and functional activities occur. Formal organizations are social units formed in order to accomplish certain objectives. Individuals join the organization because its objectives represent to some degree objectives that they wish to achieve personally or professionally (or both). As an organization grows and changes, its original objectives will be modified, and they may well change to such an extent that the founders might have trouble recognizing "their" old organization. Formal organizations, then, have two basic characteristics:

(1) they are formed to accomplish a specific objective, and
(2) that objective may well change many times during the lifetime of the organization.

As an organization becomes more complex, one objective may come into conflict with another. Society itself is composed of thousands of organizations, many of which have objectives in conflict with the objectives or other organizations. Furthermore, the personal goals of the members of organizations rarely are in total harmony with organizational objectives, especially as each person belongs to hundreds of organizations (formal and informal, voluntary and involuntary membership). As is readily apparent, another major characteristic of organizations is the widespread existence of conflict.

A number of management articles in the 1960s and early 1970s dealt with conflict control, which some people view as the central issue for management. Granted, conflict is a fact of life, but it is as naive to pretend that conflict is the only element of life as it is to assume that there is no conflict at all. What we must recognize is that a series of interactions constantly takes place:

Individuals interact with the environment
Individuals interact with one another
Individuals interact with organizations
Organizations interact with other organizations
Organizations interact with the environment

Because people and organizations are interdependent, and because every action does produce a reaction, management is clearly a complex problem.

Conflict has a great many sources; the ability to recognize the major sources can help a manager to perform more effectively. Perhaps the major source of conflict is competition for resources, as all organizational resources are limited in quantity. During any given period, some resources are more available than others, but the pattern of availability and demand fluctuates. In the 1950s, libraries were concerned about material resources, physical facilities, and funds to support intellectual freedom. In the 1960s, the big resource problem was personnel, and in the 1970s, it was financial support. The 1980s cannot be predicted.

Competition for scarce resources takes place both inside and outside an organization, and competition between similar organizations can be very strong. Because most libraries are governmental agencies, they find themselves in a yearly struggle to secure a larger portion of the tax dollar (or to hold onto their present allotment). Because each agency's request justifies the full amount of tax money that it could use, and because each request will have active supporters, the library has competition for every dollar that it seeks. The total monies requested by all agencies usually exceed the amount available; therefore, conflict (and often ill will) can arise as each agency tries to prove that it is worthy of its requests.

Competition for resources takes place within the organization as well, among the units that compose it. Perhaps the library secured only one of six new positions that it requested, and all department heads are trying to justify their receiving the new staff member. Just as with interagency conflict, the manager (decision maker) must realize that any decision may result in tension and conflict that may, last for some time. Obviously, competition for resources forces the issue. The manager must try to avoid the long-term effects of such conflicts.

Another form of conflict, line-versus-staff, is built into the organization and is sometimes deliberately encouraged. In a library, this type of conflict often arises between systems personnel and other staffers. Trying to improve the library as a whole, systems people tend to have a broader perspective than the operations staff. When a systems person recommends a change in one department. and when both the systems person and the department personnel know that it would mean less efficiency in the department (even if it would mean more efficiency for the library), vigorous objections from the department are only natural. The department staff members do not want the library to be less efficient, but they also do not want their own work to be less efficiently performed. The manager's task is to make certain that the department realizes that it will not be penalized when a decrease in efficiency does occur. The conflict that arises is encouraged here, though, because department members have forgotten the question of overall organizational performance. Yet, that overall performance and operation must remain the top priority of everyone working in the system.

Sometimes, several staff members make conflicting demands on a unit head. Because each unit has its own purpose and responsibilities, the unit head often assigns a level of importance to each request. Yet this should never be allowed to happen. lop management must assign all priorities, allowing the entire organization to benefit from staff and line specialization.

Other types of conflict arise from differences in work orientation and needs. In a library, one of the clearest examples of this can be seen in bibliographic searching. Acquisitions departments can secure books without the detailed bibliographic searching that catalog departments often need. Frequently, discussions arise concerning when, where, and how such searching should be done. If acquisitions does a complete search, it takes more time than necessary to meet that department's needs. If cataloging does the search, the cataloging work Dow will be improved, but the actual acquisitions process may be slowed down. In either case, one department is doing the work of the other, which almost inevitably leads to tension and conflict.

Whatever its source, conflict must be controlled if organizations are to operate efficiently. Persons holding management positions must have a tolerance for conflict situations. A manager must recognize the sources and nature of each conflict, must not be afraid to tackle problems and must be comfortable in dealing with problems. Methods of dealing with conflict situations range from using personal judgment to attempting bargaining to the all too popular muddling through.


Accomplishing goals with and through other people is a basic human activity, and most persons are involved in working with others in some fashion. If we define an organization as two or more persons acting together to achieve a specified goal, then we can say that everyone is a member of a number of organizations. Members of organizations must interact in a structured, interdependent manner to achieve their desired objective. While the degree of structure and interdependence vary constantly, whenever two people seek a common goal, some structure and interdependence must be present in their organization.

Anthropology, archaeology, and history supply ample evidence that organization is necessary. Indeed, the findings of these disciplines reinforce the contention that both formal and informal membership in organizations marks all stages of an individual's life. As Etzioni (1964) and others have noted, an individual is not really dead until the state officially certifies the fact. A brief discussion of just a few of the many types of organizations one belongs to will illustrate the complexity and the pervasive nature of organizations.

Economic groups include not only a person's place of employment, but banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions, among others. Owning a credit card implies membership in an economic group. In these instances, each group represents a structure created to fulfill some specific economic objective(s) that each member desires to accomplish (service or product). The organization itself desires a profit for providing the desired service or product.

Religious groups affect the individual even when a person does not belong to a formal group. Religious holidays and their observance influence the behavior of both organizations and individuals; as a result, even the non-religious person comes under the influence of formal religious bodies.

Governmental agencies of all types (including military) constantly affect the individual. Membership in such organizations is not always voluntary; one becomes a member simply by living or working in a specific area. Other organizational groups are educational, social, and political.

In several of his books, Peter Drucker has described four principles of production-unique product, rigid mass, flexible mass, and "flow" production. Although the principles were originally established through the study of industrial production, they apply equally well to producing and handling information and to what can be labeled "knowledge work." Libraries and most service organizations fall into the "unique product" category. If librarians keep the definition of this category in mind, they will be able to relate their activities to most other activities in a manner that managers and politicians outside the field of librarianship will understand.

Drucker characterized unique product work as labor intensive:

Even when highly mechanized-and it does not lend itself to automation-capital investment will be comparatively low compared to labor cost. But it has great flexibility. Costs of individual products are high, but break-even points are low. Unique product production can operate at a low volume of output or with considerable fluctuation in output. It makes high demands on skill,, but little or no judgment.

With the exception of the last phrase in the last sentence, this is an accurate picture of library work. Libraries devote well over 50% of their budgets to salaries and staff benefits. Capital investments, compared to labor costs, are low, and (when they are actually calculated) unit costs for services to individuals are high. Generally, the degree of skill and judgment required are high, contrary to Drucker in this case.

As a labor-intensive activity, even without considering the clients, the management of libraries places emphasis: on people and interpersonal relations. Because of the increasing complexity and growing numbers of organizations, though, we must be concerned with the question of whether organizations control individuals. This brings us back to the two basic aspects of management: activities and people. As long as the manager remains fully aware of the ramifications inherent in organizations and people, and as long as the manager tries to maintain a balance between the needs of the two, people are in control of organizations. When the balance tips in favor of activities, people are no longer in control. An organizational threat to individual freedom and dignity cannot exist in a balanced situation.

Saul Gellerman summed up the situation with the following:

Thus we return to the dilemma that organizations have always faced, and always will, as long as they are comprised of individuals. The organization exists, thrives. and survives by harnessing the talents of individuals. Its problem is to do so without hobbling those talents or turning them against itself This perpetual balancing act is the responsibility of management, especially those members of management in the lower echelons, whose influence upon employees is most direct.

I agree with Robert Townsend's statement about people and organizations in the preface to his book, Up the Organizations: "Solution two is non-violent guerilla warfare: start dismantling our organizations where we're serving them, leaving only the parts where they're serving us." Very few people deny that every formal organization has anti-people elements. Nevertheless, when someone threatens the entire organizational structure, many others rush to the defense of the status quo. If, however, energy is directed toward correcting the anti-people elements and developing a balance between people and things, then almost everyone in an organization will help with the process. Libraries and librarians are people-oriented, and a little more awareness of management techniques is all that is needed for libraries to become effective people-oriented organizations.


1. C. Lindbolm, "The Science of Muddling Through," Public Administration Review 19 (1959): 79-88.

2. H. Mintzberg, The Nature of Managerial Work (New York: Harper, 1973). p. 11.

3. P. Drucker, Management (New York: Harper, 1974), pp. 203-216.

4. Drucker, p. 213.

5. S. Gellerman, Management of Human Resources (Hinsdale, III.: Dryden Press, 1976). p.13.

6. R. Townsend, Up the Organization (New York: Knopf, 1970), p. 11.


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