Chinwe, Nwogo Ezeani Ph. D
organization operates in a constantly changing environment. The success or failure
of an organization therefore depends on its ability to recognize and adapt to internal and external changes. This article, therefore,
takes a look at the management of change at the University of Nigeria, library system. Specifically, the article attempts to (i) establish the need for change in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, library; (ii) identify areas of Change; (iii) examine problems military against introduction of change in the University of Nigeria library; and (iv) proffer strategies on how to manage change in the University of Nigeria library.
Change is inevitable in every organization. Indeed, for any relevant change is imperative. The amount, change may vary among enterprises, but change aspect of all organizations. The inevitability and in organization was emphasized by Likert (1967:128)
When he states:
organization is in a continuous state of change. Sometimes the changes are great,
sometimes small, but change is always taking place. The conditions requiring these
changes arise from both within and without. As a consequence, there is never-ending need for decisions which guide adjustments to change. The adequacy of these decisions for meeting on organization’s current and developing internal and external situations determines the well-being, power, and future of that organization (Likert, 1967:128″).
Organizational change is a process: It results from both internal and external pressures. To work effectively, organizations should be anchored on the past and yet adaptable to future changes – thus new employees are hired while older employees retire, established ways of discharging duties are discontinued and new and emerging trends are discovered.
Academic libraries have always been seen as complex institutions with multiple roles and a host of related operations and services developed over the years. However, their fundamental purpose has remained the same – to provide access to authoritative, trustworthy knowledge. In this regard, they have stood unchallenged throughout the world as the primary providers of custodians of knowledge. Our patrons have over the years looked up to us for dependable information. Sadly, events around have shown that academic libraries are fast relinquishing their position as the prime source of inquiry. The reason that this is happening is because of the impact of digital technology. As digital technology has pervaded every aspect of our lives, academic libraries have in the same trend been losing their supremacy in carrying out their key role which is being at the epicentre of learning, teaching and research. For academic libraries to be able to stand their feet amidst all the revolution around them – change has become inevitable.
The University of Nigeria Library System, has a main Campus Library at Nsukka and other branch libraries at Enugu Campus and College of Medicine, Enugu. The library at Nsukka Campus has a new library structure, which the library is gradually planning to move into. This in itself will necessitate change. The new library on completion will be one of the biggest libraries in West Africa, and will be fully net worked and also linked to the Internet.
The objectives of this article are to:
- Establish a need for change in University of Nigeria Library.
- Identify areas of change
- Examine problems militating against change introduction in (lie University of Nigeria Library.
- Proffer strategies on how to manage change in University of Nigeria Library.
The Meaning and Nature of Organizational Change
Organizational change entails re-alignment of organizational systems and processes with the factors prevailing in the external environment of an organization. It facilitates the overhauling of organizational systems and processes. According to Lewin (1951), change is a function of the forces that promote change-and the opposing forces that slow or resist change. While change forces lead to differences in the form, quality, or condition of an organization over time, in contrast, resistance forces support the status quo, that is, the existing state of conditions in organizations (Williams 2000:380). Therefore, change can be nonexistent, sporadic, continuous, or discontinuous, depending on whether change forces are stronger than resistance forces (Williams 2000:383-384). The forces of organizational change include internal and external forces. The ability to recognize and adapt to internal and external changes can mean the difference between continued success and decline of an organization. The latter occurs according to Wcitzcl and Jonsson (1991:7-22), when organizations don’t anticipate, recognize, neutralize, or adopt to the internal or external pressures that threaten their survival. “in other words, decline occurs when organizations don’t recognize the need for change” (Williams 2000:381).
The Need for Change in Academic Libraries in Nigeria
Information technology in Nigeria has become ubiquitous. At almost every nook and cranny of most universities in Nigeria there arc cybercafes and Internet kiosks always full to the brim. The libraries erstwhile clientele have gradually filtered off to these new areas. These commercial houses charge fees that are usually high, yet their patrons are undaunted because of the business – like way in which these cafes arc run. Patrons find that they have their money’s worth. This has over the years put a lot of pressure on academic libraries, necessitating for academic libraries, without which they would fail in their mandate for providing trustworthy information to their being clientele. Change is a part of our everyday life.
It is universal and inevitable. All academic libraries regardless of their structure need change. However, while change often presents a threat to the survival of most libraries it also frequently offers an unprecedented opportunity for growth. Academic libraries within these last couple of years have constantly been facing the challenge of creating a structure that is capable of remaining current and viable.
In most Western countries, the traditional way of rendering library services have given way to technology and most library functions and services arc computer driven. According to Mullins (quoted in Croft 1996) most organizations will need a ‘trigger’ to address the issue of change. For academic libraries the trigger is technology. Furthermore, the information seeking behaviours and habits of the libraries patrons are changing. The Internet powered by ever-improving search engines and the wide world web has rapidly become the largest and the easiest storehouse of information in the word. While still, several Nigerian libraries are not yet hooked to the web. These arc major challenges that have made change an imperative for libraries in Nigeria. Most Internet connected libraries have the problem of getting librarian to adapt to this new way of doing things and for most library patrons, the traditional card catalogues are still their preferred way of searching for information. Change would necessitate that not only the workforce (library staff) will embrace and adapt to redefinition of ways of running the library, but our patrons would also need to be involved in the change process. Therefore, there is a clear need to understand change and to know how to introduce change in a manner of consistent with the libraries objectives.
In the University of Nigeria library system, the need for change can never be over-laboured. Most functions of the library which is supposed to be computer driven up till now arc still done in the traditional way. Our card catalogues, most of which are as old as the library itself have all gone brittle and blurred making it very difficult for patrons to browse. The reference section that is supposed to be an e-resource centre, is still operating at the traditional level of housing only print – reference sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, directories, year books, indexes, abstracts etc. The catalogue section that is supposed to be hooked to world cat’ is presently cataloguing through the traditional method and thus, takes so much library time. The circulation desk is not different, books are checked inland out manually and this wastes both the time of library staff and the time of our clients. At no time in the history of the library is change needed the way it is presently. In the special collections area, thesis which arc meant to be digitized because of their critical role in research are still there and because of lack of space most arc kept in places mostly out of the reach of users. When digitized these resources can be very invaluable toresearch. In all this, the issue of bringing change, a change of mind-set to the library staff is also very fundamental. According to Troll (2001) changing the way an organization operates is tough. Money can be spent on new software, business processes can be changed but this cannot guarantee change. Technology, according Troll, may change but organizations usually stay the same. Therefore, the need to change the attitude, the mindset ot the library workforce is also very critical in effecting change in the University of Nigeria library, system. The library administration will also need to re-evaluate its activities in order to bring about change. The change agent is the person at the top who introduces change. He/she has to make workers feel secure and capable of changing without reducing their power Workers should be motivated to change and some new learning can occur (Croft, 1996). Change management entails thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation-and above all consultation with and involvement of the library workforce.Schnell (2006) summarizes this by establishing that:
Successful change is not the old school variety of change that comes every few years and is accompanied by massive upheavals, frightened staff and upset customers, successful change cannot be discontinuous or fractured. Constant change is fluid, it is evolutionary not revolutionary.
Constraints to Change in the University of Nigeria Library
Change, particularly organizational change hardly takes place on a smooth and balanced manner. Resistance to change is a normal occurrence. Ordinarily people are very averse to change and would always like to stay in their comfort zones and do things as they have, been done, before. Management therefore, has the responsibility to facilitate and enable change. There are certain factors which are likely to encourage resistance to change in libraries and those factors are examined with regard to the. University of Nigeria library.
1. Lack of understanding and trust. Most library workers believe that the introduction of new technologies may create rationalization in the workforce. This attitude can cause resistance, since library staff may think that new technologies can take over their job. It is actually important to note that workers do not resist change per se; but the uncertainties that change can bring.
2. Lack of commitment on the part of change agents – University
Librarians, to follow change through. If a change is initiated and it is not followed through or the tempo at which the change is introduced in not sustained, library workers will assume it is one of those lack-luster efforts made in the past. Library staff would want to be assured that this change initiated has indeed come to stay, in which case, there will be no other opinion than to adapt to it.
3. Lack of clear strategy, direction and vision on how change can be effected. Most librarians at the top do not have a clear vision of how to bring about change. Whatever change it is especially with regard to technology, a leader is suppose to be very much abreast with these new technologies to be able to effectively carry the staff along. If the people know the direction he/she is going, it becomes easier to carry staff along, with a clearly stated vision and strategies for achieving the change.
4. Lack of involvement of library staff in planning and implementation of change can cause a major resistance on the part of library staff, Involvement brings about participation. People will always support that which they helped to create. During planning there is usually a cross fertilization of ideas, exchange of perspectives and indeed open communication that will help workers understand what the change entails at a fundamental level. When once this is understood, majority of the staff will help to propagate the change even to our library patrons.
5. Lack of staff training. It is important to adequately equip staff with training when a new method of doing things is introduced. For technology, if staff is given the proper training, they will be excited and enthusiastic about what they have learnt and want to practice it immediately Technology undoubtedly makes library functions and services easier, but workers will need to be trained on how to use this new software. In 2002 when the University of Nigeria library started using the library programme, a consultant was invited, who trained members of staff. The programme took off effectively until the server went down. Therefore, training programmes are very useful in developing collective understanding approaches, methods and systems of tackling new innovations..
6. Lack of staff surveys, Library managers should occasionally do a survey and find out workers opinions about some of the innovations in their work places. These surveys help to establish problem areas that need to be tackled. Without such surveys library workers may feel that the management may be only interested in achieving goals without caring about their opinions. This can also lead to resistance of. change. Libraries should develop the internal flexibility and creativity to make further changes which arc demanded by the information obtained.
7. Lack of adequate infrastructural support can also cause resistance to change. If a new technology is introduced and there is no technical support to maintain such infrastructure, when these gadgets break down from time to time library workers will revert to the traditional method of functioning which they are already well grounded in.
Strategies for Change Management in the University of Nigeria
Managing change entails institutionalizing the philosophy of change in the organization. Effective change management involves creating a definite vision and management the transition to the desired future state. Furthermore, change management entails managing resistance to change as well as increasing the acceptance level of change. Responsibility for managing change is with management of the library. They must manage change in a way that library workers can cope with it. The management has the prime responsibility (o facilitate and enable change. Library workers responsibility is no other than to do their best given the leadership established by the library management. To be able to manage change in the University of Nigeria library the following strategies are proffered.
1 Library leadership should have a clear vision of where the library is
going and how to take the library staff to that height. Clearly defined strategies for achieving major new innovations should be clearly delineated to library staff. When members of staff understand clearly what is expected of them and how to achieve certain goals they will support the change of process,
2. Teamwork should be encouraged. Most sections should beencouraged to work as a formidable team; this will ensure that library workers can always get help from their fellow colleague and know that whatever achievement made will be looked at from the group perspective and whatever failure encountered will not be seen as an individual but a group failure. Teamwork encourages goal setting which helps in moving the library forward.
3. Training programmes and workshops are very crucial in change management. When library workers are trained it builds their confidence and updates their skills. Furthermore, it shows that the library cares for its workers and are interested in their development.
4. Change managers in this case the library management should ensure that new innovations are sustained; that when once something new is introduced that it will be followed through and workers are expected to continue with this innovation. The situation of starting of a new project or innovation and abandoning it mid stream should be discouraged by library managers. When the Nnamdi Azikiwe Library started the programme, staff members abandoned it mid stream. This is very costly for the library because of the amount of money spent on training. In addition to start it off again after a long period of non-use will also require another kind of training which will also cost money.
5. Library staff, particularly professional librarians and heads of sections should be involved in the early planning of major projects by the library. When once support of this category of staff is enlisted, they will then disseminate the information to their subordinates and other library patrons. This will make the new innovation take off at a faster rate. For instance, the library is at the planning stages of going online. The need for the library to access e-resources has been established and understood by libraries and all categories of staff arc preparing for this giant leap.
6. There is a need for an occasional feedback of some sort to be done. Library managers should occasionally do a survey of the librarians. This could be done through a questionnaire which will be given anonymous response to, interviews with sectional divisional heads should be held to know areas of need. During staff meetings and management meetings, librarians can present the various problems encountered by them. Armed with information, the library management will know who to tackle these problems with a viewto moving the library forward.
Over the next couple of years the University of Nigeria library system will have to make critical important, practical and policy decisions about the functions of the library about the space and about the role of librarians. Change therefore has become inevitable in this library. Change emanating from the traditional way in which we have functioned erstwhile, i.e the manual way in which functions have been carried out. This will no longer be accepted by our patrons who have become so Internet savvy, so ICT compliant that if this change is not carried out sooner than later, the library will loose its influence in the larger university community.
Change arising from the library’s perception of their roles particularly the academic librarians have also become critical. This is the time for librarians to live to their mettle as the academics that they arc. Professional librarians are now fully assessed as their counterparts in faculty and therefore, the need for fundamental changes in our roles to be clearly defined has also become imminent. Do professional librarians need to act as administrators, while indeed they are academics? These and many more questions will bring about change. Change is often threatening and people tend to seek stability and order in their lives; change means disruption and uncertainty and under normal circumstances library workers will resist change. However, change is also very crucial in moving any library forward. Without initiating change most library functions will become moribund and library patrons will no longer find our services useful. Change will make the University of Nigeria more proactive and bring about new cutting edge innovations that will make the library to rise up to the challenges of information provision to its clientele in the 21s‘ century.
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