Change and conflict in the academic library

2008-02-20T15:24:10Z (GMT) by Catherine Edwards Graham Walton
It has been observed that "the libraries of colleges and universities are changing faster than their respective parent institutions. Essentially everything in and around the library is changing: services, technologies, organizational constructs, ownership and access policies, values and most of the rest'' (Riggs, 1997). Invariably this intensity of change will cause conflict on different scales and levels and have serious implications for Library and Information Services. Between 1996 and 1998 the eLib IMPEL2 (Impact on People of Electronic Libraries) project was able to monitor how this conflict was being manifested. Using literature from both the management and librarianship disciplines, the general concepts of conflict are discussed, focusing on causes of conflict, positive and negative impacts and different conflict handling techniques. There is an overview concerning how the theories and ideas on conflict drawn from the management discipline apply within an academic library context. After outlining the background to the IMPEL2 eLib project, examples of conflict found in academic libraries are illustrated using data collected. In February 1999 examples of conflict were reviewed at a study day for librarians who identified causes and possible conflict management strategies. These are also presented.