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New Workforce Transformation Story: Communities of Practice as Tools for Change

image © Tom Sharlot

ARL’s Transforming Research Libraries (TRL) Steering Committee has published the fourth entry in its monthly column, Workforce Transformation Stories. Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education services at Ohio University Libraries, contributed the September essay, “Communities of Practice as Tools for Organizational Change and Self-directed Professional Development.”

In this piece, Broughton provides one possible answer to the question, “How does an organization go about creating a culture that encourages unprecedented flexibility and openness to change and that supports librarians as they continually re-skill?” She describes an effort launched this year at Ohio University Libraries to develop communities of practice with the intention of promoting workplace learning and innovation. The libraries have committed to experimenting with the groups’ ideas to advance the strategic plan. They also plan to develop rewards for outstanding work and leadership in the communities of practice.

ARL’s TRL Steering Committee hopes this monthly column will enable library leaders to point to evidence of trends and general truths, and to support organizational change. Collectively we will build a shared understanding of what it means to work in a research library and what skills and competencies are required.

Potential topics might include:

  • How evolving pressures and priorities in higher education are changing library work
  • The library’s role in promoting new technologies
  • Techniques for the successful on-boarding and mentoring of new library staff
  • Unique staffing models through campus collaborations
  • Innovative ways to provide professional development opportunities
  • Effective annual evaluation and promotion review processes
  • Successful reorganizations and the resulting organizational synergies

If you are interested in contributing a story, contact Judy Ruttenberg at judy@arl.org.

Subscribe to the RSS feed for Workforce Transformation Stories.


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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