Chief Librarians: The Leadership and Administration of Community College Libraries
College and university libraries are facing numerous challenges and need strong, effective leadership to meet student needs. Higher education is in crisis and restructuring of organizational structures is commonly utilized for cost-saving purposes. Academic libraries are not exempt from organizational change due to limited or reduced funding. Library budgets have been severely reduced and these cuts impact library resources and personnel. Community colleges are an overlooked segment of higher education and there is a wide gap in the library and information science literature on community college library administrative models, leadership, and librarianship practice. Using a combined multi-frame leadership model and competing values framework, this study examined library administrative practices in the California Community College (CCC) system and explored the experiences of community college library leaders, or chief librarians. The research design of this study was a mixed-method convergent parallel study that used quantitative and qualitative methods to answer two main research questions. Extant data on chief librarians and content analysis of CCC library administrative job advertisements were used to review library administrative practices. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews and document analysis were utilized to examine what it means to be a chief librarian and their leadership perspectives. The study revealed a wide variety of administrative practices in the CCC libraries by chief librarian titles, roles, duties, education, and external reporting. Extant data analysis indicated that more than half of designated chief librarians have a faculty role such as department chair or director. Traditional library manager positions, dedicated deans and directors, have been or are being combined with other college functions such as technology/online education and/or academic/college programs. Job ad content analysis indicated growth in additional library administrator duties in the areas of staff development, tutoring, distance education, and instructional technology. Furthermore, six main themes emerged from chief librarian participant interviews: (1) supervision, (2) collaboration, (3) shared governance, (4) lack of resources, (5) marginalization, and (6) credentialed librarian managers.