As of 22 April 2009 this website is 'frozen' in time — see the current IFLA websites
This old website and all of its content will stay on as archive –
If a local government advertizing for a new public librarian specifies in its advertisement that is is looking for a change oriented person, nobody would probably raise an eyebrow. But I am convinced that it would cause great surprise if faithfulness towards the established norms and standards of public librarianship was among the qualifications listed.
To organizations and professionals, however, the implementing of reforms often stand forth as threatening inconveniences. Frequent reforms seem to take resources away from the "real"tasks of the organization. Instead of concentrating upon producing library services, we are forced to continually scrutinize our organization and our practices to see to it that they are in accordance with the latest fashions in organizational life. New norms and standards are often regarded as threats to pratctices to which we attach meaning. Oganizations and professions, therefore, tend to develop mechanisms to defend themselves against changes and reforms.
Public librarianship can be regarded as an institutionalized system of norms and standards. Throughout this century these norms and standards have structured the development of public libraries. The result has been isomorphy, i.e. public libraries basically have imitated each other, implemented the same standards and norms and become alike. It seems reasonable to hypothesize that todayís change imperative threatens to dissolve public librarianship as a coherent field, thus supplanting isomorphy with diversity. My research question can be summed up as follows:
In order to grasp and estimate the role and structuring power of the established value base of public librarianship, I have compared three metropolitan public libraries facing basically the same change-inducing factors, but doing so in environments differing as for political and administrative turbulence. The libraries I have been comparing are the Deichmanske Public Library of Oslo, The City Library of Gothenburg (or rather the network of independent libraries in the city of Gothenburg) and The Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Public Library of Gothenburg. I have studied planning documents, made in depth interviews with altogether 36 librarians from the three libraries, and distributed identical questionnaires to all qualified librarians in the three library systems.
The fundamental idea of the modern public library system which has developed throughout this century, can be summed up in the following sentence: Promoting equal access to knowledge and culture by putting books and other kinds of documents at the free disposal of the public, thereby promoting values like meaning, participation in society, access to education and the cultural heritage regardless of economic means and social status, and, in the end, a widening of democracy. The professional basis of public librarianship is to a large extent normative and value ridden. Equality, pluralism and quality in selection policies and the promotion of democracy as an ultimate goal have all been central dogmas in the professional ideology.
Core elements in what we might term the ideological basis of of public librarianship have been eleborated and diffused on an international basis through IFLA and the library activities and programs of UNESCO, through professional journals and conferences. They have proved adaptable within the the framework of different political contexts. Be it in the social democratic Scandinavia, the United States, Germany, Great Britain etc, we have up to now found libraries and librarians defining their role in basically the same way. (One of the libraries I am going to study, belonged to the former Soviet bloc. It might form an exception, to the extent pluralism in selection policy and democratic values are integral parts of the foundation of librarianship. But the librarians - at least in Hungary - were integrated into the international community of librarians. As the deputy head of the Szabó Ervin put it in an interview I made with him in 1989: "Orally we have paid heed to Soviet ideology. But in our practical work we have looked to England, the United States, Scandinavia for impulses".
Like other state and local government organizations, public libraries are political instruments. They are established and maintained in order to further political goals within the fields of cultural, educational and informational politics. When compared to other public organizations they are, however, characterized by some peculiarities which might be of importance when analyzing them - especially when analyzing change:
In the era of the (social democratic) welfare state, one might say that a harmony existed between the ideas of public librarianship focusing upon e.g. equal access to knowledge and culture regardless of economic and social status, the role of libraries in promoting democracy and free borrowing, and the values dominating which were hegemonic in the political environment surrounding the libraries. Public librarianship represented a solution which was relevant to the dominating political values. Now this era seems to have come to an end. Values focusing upon competition and market solutions have taken over the hegemony. In order to prove relevant to society, public librarianship will probably have to change.
It seems reasonable to expect, however, that changes in order to adapt to to trends dominating the political and administrative environment will be difficult and conflict ridden due to the inherent conflict between the values now coming to the forefront and the established value base of public librarianship.
The change impetuses which public libraries have to adapt to, can be divided into three groups:
In my research, I have concentrated on the second and third category
These three perspectives can be desribed as falling within a rational and instrumental tradition.
When observing organizational pratice, however, one often finds anomalies which cannot be explained by rational theories. One often finds that reforms decided upon are not really implemented. They might for instance be restricted to what Brunsson calls the level of talking, not being allowed to enter and effect the organizationís level of action (Brunson, 1989), or they might be translated and transformed to suit the organizationís traditional practices, so that no real changes take place. And how can we interpret and understand the fact that decision makers often gather information without using it, that they perform expensive cost-benefit analyses which apparantly have no effects on the final outcome or that organizational members fight for the right to participate without using it, to cite some of the examples brought forward by March and Olsen (March and Olsen, 1989, p.48).
Since the end of the seventies, institutional theory has come to the forefront in social science as an alternative to insttrumental rationalism. Institutionalism stresses the weight and meaning of existing structures, rules, norms and roles. Organizational action and change cannot be sufficiently understood as the result of a rational means-end calculus (Meyer and Rowan, 1977; Selznick, 1983; March and Olsen, 1983; March and Olsen, 1989; Brunsson and Olsen, 1990; Olsen, 1991; DiMaggio and Powell, 1991a: DiMaggio and Powell 199b; Olsen, 1992; March and Olsen, 1994). To a large extent we receive norms and prescriptions through membership in institutions. These norms, rules and structures represent a socially constructed reality which we take for granted and which we are acting within. Instead of asking ourselves which actions will maximize goal realization, we often select or reject courses of action based on considerations of appropriateness. Within the field of public librarianship, it might very well be that some actions are regarded to be inapppropriate, no matter their instrumental rationality. A good public librarian simply does not do certain things. The more ambiguous means/end relations are (and in public librarianship such relations are mostly highly ambigous), the more we probably rely on other mechanisms of choice and decision-making. Such alternative mechanisms might be looking to and imitating the most influential and prestigous institutions within the field.
Institutionalism, however, is not a unified and coherent perspective. There are important differences between the so-called "new institutionalism" coming to the forefont in the last 15 years, and the traditional institutionalism of for instance Philip Selznick. But what all institutionalists have in common, is the importance of meaning and a scepticism towards instrumental explanations. According to Selznick, to institutionalize "is to infuse with value beyond the technical requirements of the task at hand (Selznick, 1983, p.17). Ways of doing things are becoming values in themselves. Library standards in cataloguing and classification are probably not only expendable instruments in order to make retrieval more effective, but practices to which librarians attach meaning. In contrast to most modern gospels of organizational theory, Selznick stresses the uniqueness of organizations: "It is easy to agree to the abstract proposition that the function of the executive is to find a happy joinder of means and ends. It is harder to take that idea seriously. There is a strong tendency not only in administrative life but in all social action to divorce means and ends by overemphasizing one or the other. The cult of efficiency in administrative theory and practice is a modern way of overstressing means and neglecting ends.....the cult of efficiency tends to stress techniques of organization that are essentially neutral, and therefore available for any goals, rather than methods peculiarly adapted to a distinctive type of organization or stage of development" (Selznick, 1983, p.135).
Conservative as such insitutionalized norms might seem to the reform oriented leader, the experience of meaning and value is necessary in order to make organizational members invest that extra effort which the organization needs in order to survive and achieve success.
Although the institutional approach(es) has developed since the work of Selznick, his contribution is still stimulating. For the purpose of this research, it seems natural to pose the following question on the basis of Selznick:
Do we find such tensions when studying change processes in public libraries?
The traditional institutionalism which I have described shortly above, is to some extent instrumental. It is possible to read and interpret Selznickís contribution as an arsenal of methods, dimensions and variables which the wise leader ought to take into consideration in order to understand his role properly.
Modern institutionalism, however, seems to be less practical and more interpretative (Meyer and Rowan, 1977; March and Olsen, 1983; March and Olsen, 1989; Brunsson, 1989; Brunsson and Olsen, 1990; Olsen, 1991; DiMaggio and Powell, 1991a; DiMaggio and Olsen, 1991b; Olsen, 1992; March and Olsen, 1994). Organizational action is to a large extent symboligc and ceremonial. Through our organisational actions, we pay heed to a set of common norms, standards and vaules. The term "myth" is often used to describe the socially constructed reality constituted by the standards, norms and values we are acting in accordance with (Meyer and Rowan, 1977).
In a social system som actor have a central position, some a more peripheral. So also in the social system of organizations. Organizations in the centre dominate also as for the setting of standards. When means/end relations are ambiguous, organizations tend to imitate standards and norms stemming from those organizations regarded to be most influential and successful. The result is isomorphy, i.e. organizations tend to become alike.
Based on the insitutionalized values of public librarianship one should be able to predict how public librarians will respond to a given change impetus, e.g. increased market orientation. But what if we introduce differing degrees of environmental turbulence? Does that affect the structuring power of field values?
I have tried to illustrate my general point of departure in figure 2.1 below. In this analytical scheme, level of political turbulence is treated as an intermediate variable, which might modify or even dissolve the effects of institutionalized factors stemming from the professional field.
The way a given reform is being met and coped with within this general scheme might be perceived as being dependant upon:
B. Perceived compatibily and rejection/acceptance will probably not only be a result of characteristics of the reform itself, but also of its originating inside or outside the professional field in question. If a reform is being perceived as field external, the probability that it will also be perceived as incompatible and thus rejected, increases.
The expectations resulting from A and B are summarized in table 2.1 below.
Table 2.1. Expected level of problems connected to implementing a reform as result of its compatibility with the value base of an organization and its source of origin. Compatible Incompatible Internal initiative Unproblematic Medium External initiative Medium Highly problematic
In the next section I will highlight some of the results.
I believe it is fair to sum up the changes undertaken as follows:
In Budapest too, a rather comprehensive decentralization has been enforced. Up till 1992, the 22 district libraries received their grants via the budget adopted by the city council. From then on, a reform was implemented stating that incomes generated locally should remain with the local libraries.. The resources distributed via the central budget do not cover the running costs. The reponsibility for raising the funds necessary for keeping up activities (or for reducing activities, if the fund-raising is unsuccesful) has been decentralized .
Oslo has also decentralized, although in a less radical way than the other two libraries. Selection and the disposing of the media budget has been decentralized to the branches. The decision-making power which some staff members in the central library formerly had over certain service areas in the branches, e.g. services directed towards children, has been transferred to the heads of the branches.
The process of decentralization is well in line with general tendencies in public administration and can be regarded as an adaption to such tendencies.
In Gothenburg there has also been an extremely conflict-ridden attempt to reorganize the central library. The number of departments and correspondingly the number of department-heads, were reduced. There was also an attemt to change the relationship between the clerical staff and the librarians.
The introduction of new technology.
Both Oslo and Gothenburg have automated their accounting systems. The automation of Deichmanske took almost 10 years and was completed in 1992. Gothenburg implemented a new system very rapidly in 1991, the whole process taking only about 10 months. Budapest has so far not automated. The Szabo Ervin library has, however, been more active than its Scandinavian counterparts in introducing media based on new technology, e.g. Iarge-scale lending of video-tapes and in some instances also software.
Introducing new planning methods, e.g. MBO-oriented planning.
The Deichmanske public library introduced a MBO-oriented planning concept in 1988. From then on, every branch and department has been obliged to set priorities and formulate goals in yearly plans. A first version of a network-comprising strategic plan was produced in 1988. The Budapest library dates its planning reform to about 1985. From then on they switched from the socialist tradition of 5-year plans to a concept of strategic planning. The Gothenburg situation is somewhat more ambiguous in this respect. The library committee under the city council adopted a comprehensive document stating the goals and purposes of the city library in 1990. The city library also produces yearly plans well within the framework of goal-oriented planning, formulating quantitative goals for the year to come and evaluating goal achievement in the previous year. In the local councils it seems as if adaption to the new organizational structure has taken up most of the resources. Library plans are often integrated into more comprehensive sector plans, e.g. plans for the cultural sector, and occupy a few rather short paragraphs in these comprehensive plans.. Only a few of the local-council libraries reported having produced plans of their own.
Adaption to demand and market orientation
The slogans of being user-oriented and of adapting to demands prevail in all three libraries, although the slogans are being defined somewhat differently. Budapest has without doubt gone the furthest in defining these slogans in ways different from the established norms of public librarianship. "The value of of a document is defined by its use", declared a member of the central management in an interview, thus rejecting objective and independent criteria of value. Charging for AV material has been introduced on a large scale, and a strategy of organizing and presenting the collections according to categories of user interest has been introduced , instead of according to established professional standards. In Gothenburg criteria of quality vs. user demand seem to be a theme of discussion and conflict, and the libraries in the network have taken different positions. We do find charging for video services on a very limited scale. In Oslo, charging has not been implemented, and although adaption to demand and user orientation is part of the strategy, selection is to be based on criteria of quality.
The changes referred to above are of two kinds: One group is related to the distribution of authority, responsibility and status within the organization (measures of decentralization and the relationship between different groups in the staff), while the other group is related to the criteria and procedures which should count as being important when making professional decisions, planning, setting priorites etc. (implementing goal-oriented planning, cost-benefit analysis, categorization, charging). In general, I regard the latter category of changes as being more intimately linked to the value-base of public librarianship than organizational restructuring. If institutionalized professional norms decide response to changes. I would therefore expect resistance to be stronger when it comes to changes affecting professional decision-making criteria as opposed to organizational restructuring.
When comparing the conflict structure in the three libraries, one gains the impression that organizational changes create a higher degree of resistance than changes more initimately attached to professional principles of service production. One thing is the fact that the conflicts are most intense in the library which has concentrated more strongly than the other two on changing the organizational structure. And also in Oslo and Budapest, where organizational reforms have been less fundamental, reforms affecting the organizational structure seem to be major sources of conflict. In Oslo, the stripping of the formal decision-making authority of the so-called senior librarians in the central library to the advantage of the heads of branches, is regarded to be the most conflict-ridden of all the reforms introduced. 33% of the Oslo librarians refer to this reform as a source of conflict, while only 5% refer to decentralization in general or the strategy of increased user/demand orientation as important sources of conflict.
In Budapest, according to the questionnaire-data, no single issue stands out as being a dominating source of influence. Conflicts are related to the process as a whole. During the period of data collection, however, the central management tried to implement an organizational reform supplanting the 22 district libraries with 8 regions, a reform which would have deprived the majority of the district librarians with their formal status. The reform met strong resistance, and represents one of the few wehere the Budapest management had to give in (although at a later stage it suceeded in implementing the reform by exploiting a political vacuum).
One might gain the impression, therefore, that reforms affecting (local) traditional, hierachical releationships, status and authority create more fierceful resistance than those aiming at changing professional criteria and norrns.
But the picture is more complicated. The in-depth inteviews revealed that resistance towards organizational restructuring has an institutional basis in addition to self interested concerns about status and position. In all three cities, the librarians interviewed expressed the following two concerns when commenting upon the process of reorganization:
I interpret this as a call for what we might term institutional leadership, i. e. that part of the complex role of leadership focusing upon defending the integrity and unique identity of an institution.
Among the middle managere, however, a marked difference could be observed between the respondents belonging to the central library and those working in the districts. Those working in the districts tended to be more positive towards the organizational changes implemented and the introduction of MBO-oriented ways of planning than those working at the central library. This was also a common finding in the three cities. (Later we shall see that this difference between branches and central libraries was also evident in the questionnaire data). Even in Gothenburg, where resistance against the enforced LC reform has been fierce, there were tendencies towards some of the heads of the LC libraries embarking upon a process of accepting and even appreciating and identifying with (at least elements of) the reform. It is reasonable to interpret this as a result of what Dunleavy (Dunleavy, 1991) terms bureau-shaping. Even though decentralization might collide with established standards , it does offer bureau- shaping opportunities for those to whom authority is transferred.
The different response found among those working centrally and those working locally, therefore, serves to modify the role of institutionalized professional norms.
This was reflected in the interviews as well as the questionnaire, and was particularly strong in the central library. I interpret this, however, not as directed against goal-oriented planning per se, but as a reflection of the fact that according to the perception of many respondents at the central library change and reorganization is not based upon professional but on managerial considerations.
It is particularly interesting to analyze the attitude towards charging. As noted above, Budapest has introduced charging on a large scale as far as AV media are concerned. One LC library in Gothenburg has a fee-based video service, and the city library introduced a similar service shortly after I concluded my research. Charging is, so far, not a current issue in Oslo.
Services for free have no doubt been a mainstay in the ideology of public librarianship. And the implementation of fees is without doubt met with resistance. As one of the middle managere in Budapest put it
Nevertheless, fees seem to be about to be accepted. In all three cities a minority rejects any form of charging whatsoever and a minority accepts a general practice of charging, while the majority accepts charging on specific services or services for specific groups of users. (74% in Oslo, 69% in Budapest and 64% in Gothenburg state that they are willing to accept fees on specific services or for specific groups of users. Budapest has the highest percentage of those willing to go one step further and accept a general practice of charging - 14%).
But when the librarians (reluctantly) are accepting some forms of charging, they try to give their acceptance an institutional basis, i.e. reconciliating their attitude with the established norms of librarianship on this issue. That was evident in the in-depth interviews in both Gothenburg and Budapest. Fees on what some of them term "garnish" are accepted as a meas to avoid charging for the core services. We might call this a strategy of paying heed to two gods simultanously.
It is tempting to intepret differences between the three libraries with regard to the speed of the reform process as well as the level of conflict against the backgound of the observed differences in talking. Librarians as well as other groups tend to unite to resist external threats. If a reformer is able to present his policies as having first and foremost a professional legitimacy, the chances of having the reform accepted are probably better than if they are perceived as field-external.
The difference observed here can probably be explained as resulting from political differences. The public library of Budapest has, paradoxically enough, had a greater leeway for independent manoeuvering than its Scandinavian counterparts. The Budapest network has operated under severe constraints as far as financial resources are concerned, but it seems as if it has had, at least for a decade or so, a position of relative political independence. This seems to have been a trait characterizing the past political regime of Hungary during its last years. (Klausen 1993). All reform initiatives of importance have originated from within. This makes Budapest a particularly interesting case: The majority of environmental changes to which the library has had to adapt are similar to the environmental changes in Scandinavia as far as the main direction of development is concerned. The Szabo Ervin public library, therefore, offers a case of the potential of institutional leadership vis-á-vis the changes of today's society.
I have chosen four background-variables:
1. Professional activity
This variable is constructed as an additive index, based on the number of professional journals which are read regularly, the level of activity in professional organizations, and participation in further education programs. I take the variable of professional activity as an indicator of embeddedness in the professional field. The higher the level of professional activity, the more a person is exposed to impulses from the professional field. I expect those most strongly integrated in the professional field to be the most ardent defenders of professional norms, values and traditions.
2. Branch (or local council) libraries vs. central library.
Central libraries are substantially larger than branches or local council libraries, which is a more correct term in the case of Gothenburg. The simple fact that a higher number of professionals are gathered in the central libraries than in the branches, makes it reasonable to expect that established norms and traditions will have a more favourable soil to grow in. As it was formulated by one of the respondents from the central library of Gothenburg in one of the in-depth interviews: "It (tradition - my remark) sits in the walls". While the most eager readers of professional journals, participants in further education and activists in professional organizations are exposed to field standards, those working in the central libraries are exposed to local standards and traditions. Those staff members working in the branches/LC libraries, are more exposed to immediate contact with externals (users, local councils, local administration, local organizations etc) and are to a lesser extent protected by a numerically strong professional milieu.
This is a demographic variable in line with Pfeffer. It is reasonable to expect that those with a high score on the variable of tenure will be more conservative and have less propensity to change than newcomers. The three libraries are all charaterized by a high average score on the variable of tenure. The average librarian in Oslo has been employed for 13.4 years and is 44.9 years old. In Gothenburg and Budapest the corresponding figures are 16.4/47.8 and 15.2/42.4 years respectively.
The variables of professional activity , tenure and work place (central library vs. branch/LC library) have effects on all the dimensions of change. For tenure and work-place the effects go in the expected direction. In all three cities the juniors and those working in the branches are more positive than the seniors and those working in the central library towards decentralization, new medias, goal-oriented planning/MBO, demand orientation. These findings are stable in all three libraries. There are, however, two exceptions - one which is general and one which is specific to Budapest. Those working in the branch/LC libraries are more negative than those working in the central libraries to the introduction of charging, and in Budapest there is a slightly more positive attitude towards categorization in the central library than in the districts.
The attitude of those working in the branches seems to be characterized by a brand of liberal philanthropy: the users should have what they want -therefore a positive attitude to a kind of demand and market orientation -and they should have it free of charge.
We shall now go somewhat deeper into the variable of demand-orientation, i.e. the attitude towards increased demand/market orientation. The kind of change towards which the librarians in the three cities were asked to specify their attitude was formulated in the questionnaire this:
"The increased importance of user evaluations and demand as opposed to the librarians' professional norms of quality when selecting material".
The in-depth interviews and the written plans revealed that the common slogan of demand and user orientation is defined somewhat differently in the three cities. That must be saken into account when reading the Tables.
The attitude in Oslo, Gothenburg and Budapest according to professional activity, place of work and teniority are given in Tables 3.2. to 3.4.
Table 3.2. Attitude towards demand orientation and professional activity. Proportion positive or very positive City Oslo Gothenburg Budapest Prof.activity High Low High Low High Low % positive 56 39 59 28 78 56 Table 3.3. Attitude towards demand orientation and work place. Proportion positive or very positve City Oslo Gothenburg Budapest Place of work Branch Central Branch Central Branch Central % positive 56 40 59 28 67 54 Table 3.4. Attitude towards demand orientation and tenure. Proportion positive or very positive City Oslo Gothenburg Budapest Tenure Short Long Short Long Short Long % positive 54 54 55 42 62 61
We see that both professional activity and work-place have marked effects. The effects seem to be identical in Oslo and Gothenburg, while professional activity seems to be somewhat more important in Budapest than work-place. The effect of tenure, however, is negligible on this specific variable, with a possible exception in Gothenburg.
To the extent that increased demand orientation means a departure from established professional norms, therefore, it does not seem as if those most strongly affiliated to the professional field stand up in defense for established standards. On the contrary, they seem to be what Roger terms "early adopters, open to new tendencies. (Rogers,1983).
But what if we take work-place and professional activity combined? Which of the variables is the stronger?
The results are given in table 3.5 to 3.7.
Table 3.5. Attitude towards demand orientation vs. work place and professional activity. Proportion positive or very positive. Gothenburg Branch/local Branch/local council library council library Activists Non activists Activists Non activists 71 30 38 19 Table 3.6. Attitude towards demand orientation vs. work place and professional acitivity. Proportion positive or vey positive. Oslo Branch/local Branch/local council library council library Activists Non activists Activists Non activists 63 48 46 31 Table 3.7. Attitude towards demand orientation vs work place and professional activity. Proportion positive or very positive. Budapest District library District library Activists Non activists Activists Non activists 86 60 46 62
The general picture in our three libraries is almost identical. The most keen adherents of a demand oriented policy are the activists in the branches/LC libraries, those resisting such a policy most strongly are the non-activists in the central library. We get an impression of the prediction of either the branch/central library-variable or the degree of activism if we look at the sum of differences between those who differ on one variable and have a similar value on the other, etg. the sum of differences between those who differ on the variable of activism and are working either in a district/LC library or a central library. The N in the different categories varies. That have to be corrected for. I have used a weigthing procedure based on the relative proportion of the number in a given category to the total N.
When performing such a procedure, we find that in Oslo and Budapest both activism and work-place have independent effects, and the effects are almost identical: In Budapest the effects are .12 for work-place and .17 for activism, in Oslo .15 for work-place and .14 for activism. In Gothenburg both effects are stronger than in the two other cities, and like in Budapest -the effect of activism is stronger than that of work place: .30 vs. .24.
We also observe that in all three cities the effect of activism is dependent upon place of work: Activists working in the branches are the most reform oriented group, and non-activists in the branches trend to be almost as reform oriented than the activists in the central library.
We are tempted to conclude, then, that field-affiliation has an effect, but an opposite one from what one should expect if field-affiliation means identification with professional norms. Those most active in the professional field are more willing to depart from established professional standards than their more passive colleagues.
The way a given reform is being met and coped with within this general scheme might be perceived as being dependant upon:
A. Its degree
In this final part of the paper we shall sum up and discuss the results in relation to the problem-statement: Are the outcomes of efforts to implement reforms dependent upon:
B. The reform's compatibility with the established value base of the profession?
C. Does the level of turbulence in the environment affect the structuring power of institutionalized professional norms, standards and values?
Public libraries have developed within a normative framework which has been relatively unified also internationally, and which to a large seems to have structured change also on an international basis. Do these insitutionalized professional norms still have a structuring force, and can we, thus, predict response to environmental change-inducing factors on the basis of their compatibility/incompatibility with established field norms and their being generated externally or internally?
As so often, the conclusions we are forced to draw, are ambigous.
Both in the field of organizational structure and planning and decision-making criterias, our libraries are facing challenges which are very similar and which are stemming from broad environmental tendencies. Response and adaptation, however, varies. In Gothenburg one goes much further than in the two other libraries in departing from established organizational norms, while the Budapest public library are implementing more radical changes than Oslo and Gothenburg when it comes to adapting to the environmental tendencies of charging and market-orientation. Oslo seems to have been primarily pre-occupied with introducing MBO-oriented methods of planning. To some extent, we get the impression that field-norms are losing their structuring force. In the Swedish situation, the management adapted directly to field-external decisions made at the political level when implementing decentralization in 1990. The management is also criticized by its staff for paying more attention to field-external ideas when it comes to reforms where the initiative lies with the management. We have seen that management stresses that its mandate is of a political and not of a professional nature.
When the Budapest public library goes further than its Scandinavian counterparts in adapting to market-orientation, it seems reasonable to interpret this as resulting from the massive influx of market-oriented thinking following the change of political system. Supplanting planning with market is a general trend, but this trend probably carries with it greater weight in a situation characterized by change of system compared to situations where developments are of a more incremental nature.
What we observe in all three cities, seems to underline the role of environmental political norms and standards as opposed to professional norms. The direction of the changes is structured by adaptation to field-external standards and norms more than by adaptation to professional ideas. Although the broad trends of decentralization, market-orientation and MBO-oriented planning are to be found in all three polities, they are mixed in different blends, and turbulence differs. In Gothenburg the decentralizing LC-reform dominates, a reform which the Oslo-library so far has been protected from; Awareness in Oslo seems to focus more upon less radical reforms such as adaptation to MBO-oriented planning, moulding the concept of user-orientedness in ways which are compatible with established field-norms, and defining fees as irrelevant. The Budapest situation, in turn, is characterized by the recent change from socialist economy to market economy and by economic decline, and the library adapts accordingly.
We are tempted to conclude, then, that:
Changes which at the surface seem to be running contrary to established norms and standards, then, are justified as necessary means to protect those very standards and make them survive.
The strategy of honouring two sets of norms simultanously can be interpreted as similar to a strategy often referred to in theory of science: A scientific theory can be seen as consisting of a core and a protective belt. When a theory is attacked and anomalies are pointed at, scientists invest a lot of energy in protecting the core and restrict changes and adaptations to the protective belt. (Ball, 1987). Such a process is progressive and fruitful as long as changes in the protective belt are content-increasing. If such changes are only of a semantical nature, the process is no longer progressive and the theory in question is endangered.
Scientists pursuing such a strategy are not to be blamed for conservatism. Good theories are hard to come up with, and deserve to be given a fair chance.
When public libraries and librarians are striving to cope with the issue of charging and demand-orientation in the ways we have observed, what they are doing is apparantly to find ways and means of adapting without discharging the theoretical core, i.e. the value-base, of public librarianship. The general attitude towards charging in all three libraries and the justifications given for charging on a limited scale in Gothenburg and Budapest, can be interpreted within such a framework. When the city librarian of Gothenburg tries to integrate the statement of goals and objectives adopted in 1990 into the planning-format defined externally, it is another example of the same strategy.
The perhaps best example of the kind of adaptation described above, is the system of categorization implemented as a city-comprising strategy in Budapest and on a smaller scale in some very few units in Oslo and Gothenburg: The traditional ways of organizing documents in libraries are extremely rule-oriented. As such, they correspond very well to the bureaucratic thinking dominating public administration throughout the greater part of this century. During the seventies, bureaucratic models of planning and decision-making became the victims of severe criticism in most Western countries. Goals, not rules, should decide the allocation of resources. The criticism has resulted in efforts to reorganize as well as the introduction of new models of planning.
When the idea of categorization came to the forefront toward the end of the seventies, it was not accidental. It can be regarded as an adaptation to the MBO- or goal-oriented ways of thinking which were coming to the forefront in public administration in general. Categorization, implying a departure from rules which are valid across concrete situations, can be regarded as a change in the protective belt of public librarianship in order to prove relevant when facing new environmental trends and challenges.
Adapting in order to prove relevant to changing circumstances while at the same time protecting and conserving the core of one's institution, i.e. defending its integrity and uniqueness, is in many ways what institutional leadership according to Selznick is all about. In our research we have observed:
And although the in-depth-inteviews revealed concerns about the possibility of surviving as a professional group, the conflicts related to organizational changes do not seem primarily to be rooted in such concerns. We did not find any correlation between field-affiliation and attitude towards organizational reforms in any of our three case-libraries. But we did find correlations between organizational position and attitude.
Professional activity can be regarded as a measure of integration into the professional field as an institution. It is the professional journals, organizations, conferences etc. which constitute the field as an arena of activity between the individual library-organizations. High score on field-activity indicates a high exposure to field-values. The activists are the most keen readers of professional journals, those attending professional meetings and occupying positions in professional organizations most frequently etc. We did, therefore, hypothesize that those most strongly affiliated to the field also will be the most loyal defenders of field-values.
If our observation is a reliable one, it might be a finding of great importance and consequence. We ended paragraph 4.2. with a question: Which out of two observed tendencies will come to dominate - the one emphasizing the importance of defending the field, or the one stressing the prevalence of an externally defined mandate? The field-activists seem more willing than their passive colleagues to depart from established standards and import externally defined ideas and standards. My theory of the activists' performing the role of loyal defenders of the field, has to be replaced, it seems, with a theory emphasizing their role as gatekeepers and early adopters. (Rogers 1983). Taking it for granted that the activists will be more influential than the non-activists, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that their willingness to accept field-external standards and norms will foster a process of isomorphic change where the fundamental models of imitation are externally imported.
As a result of organizational reforms and planning-reforms, leaders, those working in branches and field-activists will be given new responsibilities, more discretion and room for manouvering. Such effects might reasonably be linked to their professional self-interest. (As we have seen, the district-librarians of Budapest opposed regionalization, which would diminish the status and position of many a district-librarian, and heads of departments in Oslo opposed reforms which would affect their status and power negatively). Institutional explanations, then, might fruitfully be supplemented with explanations basing themselves on self-interest. Within the framework of this project, however, we do not have data making it possible to draw any conlusions as for the role of self interest beyond the realm of speculation. Although the potential coupling between private interests and policy choices are more obvious in administrative or insitutional policy making (which our reforms to a large extent are dealing with) as compared with "substantive policy-making" (Egeberg 1995), we have not studied the motivational force lying behind the responses we have observed and analyzed. We have observed relationships between organizational position and attitude towards reform, but we are not in a position to draw any conclusions as for the motivational force behind those relationships.
Such questions are possible topics for future research.
Aiken, Michael and Jerald Hage (1971) The organic organization and innovation. Sociology (5): 63-81
Allred, John R. (1978) The purpose of the public library: the historical view, in Barry Totterdell (ed) Public library purpose, pp. 15-33. London: Clive Bingley
Audunson, Ragnar (1979) Miljø og ressursproblemene - en ny konfliktdimensjon. Hovedoppgave. Oslo: Institutt for statsvitenskap
Audunson, Ragnar (1989) Hvordan utvikle et bibliotektilbud for ungdom: Rapport nr. 1 fra Holmliaprosjektet. Oslo: BRODD
Audunson, Ragnar (1990) Ungdom og informasjonsbehov: Rapport nr. 3 fra Holmliaprosjektet. Oslo: BRODD
Audunson, Ragnar (1991) Framtiden i norsk bibliotekdebatt, i Romulo Enmark (red) Biblioteken och framtiden, pp. 122-170. Göteborg: Centrum för biblioteksforskning
Audunson, Ragnar (1991b) Holmliaprosjektets effekt på utlånet til ungdom: Rapport nr. 4 fra Holmliaprosjektet. Oslo: BRODD
Baker, Sharon L. (1989) Managing resistance to change. Library Trends (Summer): 53-61
Bingham, Richard D. (1976) The adoption of innovation by local government. Lexington: Heath
Black, James A and Dean J. Champion (1976) Methods and issues in social research. New York: John Wiley & sons
Blais, André and Stéphane Dion (1991a) Introduction, in André Blais and Stephane Dion (eds) The budget-maximizing bureaucrat, pp. 3-12. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
Blais, André and Stephane Dion (1991b) Conclusion: Are bureaucrats budget-maximizers? in André Blais and Stéphane Dion (eds) The budget-maximizing bureaucrat, pp 355-361. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
Ball, Terence (1987) Is there progress in political science, in Terence Ball (ed) Idioms of inquiry, pp. 13-44. Albany; State University of New York Press
Boyd, Alexander Dock (1979) Leadership, organizational dynamics and rate of change in selected public libraries in the Northeastern United States. Ph.d dissertaion. New Brunswick: Rutgers University
Brunsson, Nils (1985) Irrational organization: Irrationality as a basis for organizational action and change. Chichester: John Wiley & sons
Brunsson, Nils (1989) The organization of hypocricy: Talk, decisions and actions in organizations. Chichester; John Wiley & sons
Brunsson, Nils (1990) Reformer som rutin, i Brunsson og Olsen (red): Makten att reformera, pp. 27-43. Stockholm: Carlssons
Brunsson Nils och Johan P. Olsen (1990) Kan organisationsformer väljas? I Brunnson och Olsen (red) Makten att reformera, pp.11-26. Stockholm: Carlssons
Burns, Tom and George M. Stalker (1968) The management of innovation. London: Tavistock
Burge, Liz (1985) Change agents or change victims? An exploration of the relevance of an innovation diffusion model for library management. The Australian Library Journal (26):310-315
Christensen, Tom (1991) Virksomhetsplanlegging - myteskaping eller instrumentell problemløsing. Oslo: TANO
Damanpour, Fariborz and Thomas Childers (1985) The adoption of innovation in public libraries. Library and Information Science Research (7): 231-245
D'Elia, George (1980) The development and testing of a conceptual model of public library user behavior. Library Quarterly (50): 413-430
DiMaggio, Paul (1982) Cultural entrepeneurship in nineteenth-century Boston: the creation of an organizational base for high culture in America. Media, Culture and Society (4): 33-50
DiMaggio, Paul and Walter W. Powell (1991a) Introduction, in DiMaggio and Powell (eds) The new institutionalism and organizational analysis., pp. 1-38. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
DiMaggio, Paul and Walter W. Powell (1991b) The iron cage revisited, in Di Maggio and Powell (eds) The new institutionalism and organizational analysis, pp. 63-82 . Chicago. University of Chicago Press
DiMaggio, Paul (1991) Constructing an organizational field as a professional project: U.S. art museums 1920-1940, in DiMaggio and Powell (eds) The new institutionalism and organizational analysis, pp. 267-292 . Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Donbroski, Lyn (1980) Life without Dewey, Catalog and Index, no 57: 3-6
Downs, Anthony (1957) An economic theory of democracy. New York
Downs, George and Lawrence B. Mohr (1976) Conceptual issues in the study of innovation, Administrative Science Quarterly (21): 700.714
Dunleavy (1991) Democracy, bureaucracy and public choice: Economic explanations in political science. New York: Harvester Wheatsleaf
Easton, David (1965) A systems analysis of political life. New York: John Wiley & sons
Eco, Umberto (1983) The name of the rose. New York: Warner
Egeberg, Morten (1995) Bureaucrats as public policy-makers and their self-interest, Journal of Theoretical Politics (7): 157-167
Eide-Jensen, Inger (1992) The metropolitan Szabo Erwin library: a report. Gothenburg: The city library
Elster, Jon (1989) Nuts and bolts for the social sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Emerek, Leif (1990) Kvalitet i 90ernes materialvalg: Bibliotekerne mellem det moderne og postmoderne. Biblioteksarbejde nr. 31: 5-27
Eriksen, Erik Oddvar (1993) Den offentlige dimensjon: verdier og styring i offentlig sektor. Tromsø/Bergen: TANO
Fine, Sara F (1986) Technological innovation, diffusion andresistance: an historical perspective. Journal of Library Administration (7): 83-108
Gyulavári, Antal, András Sejmen and István György Tóth (1991) Financing the capital: the wider context. Paper prepared for the World Bank mission on local government finance. Budapest
Hartmann, Heinz (1972) Arbeit, Beruf, Profession, in Luckmann und Sprondel (eds) Berufssoziologie, pp. 36-52. Köln: Kiepenhauer & Witsch
Hood, Christopher and Michael Jackson (1991) Administrative argument. Aldershot: Dartmouth
Harris, Michael (1978) The purpose of the American public library: a revisionist interpretation of history, in Barry Totterdell (ed) Public library purpose, pp. 39-53. London: Clive Bingley
Howard, Helen (1980) Organizational structure and innovation in academic libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship (6): 77-82
Hungary. Laws etc (1979) The Hungarian library law: Fundamental regulations. Budapest
Hungary. Laws etc. (1990) Fundamental acts on local self government in Hungary. Budapest
IFLA (1986) Guidelines for public libraries. München: Saur
Jones, K.H. (1978) Towards a re-interpretation of public library purpose, in Barry Totterdell (ed) Public library purpose, pp. 122-135. London: Clive Bingley
Kimberley, John R (1981) Managerial innovation, in Nystrom and Starbuck (ed) Handbook of organizational design (1): 81-104. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Kiss, Jenö (1988) Libraries in Hungary. Budapest: Association of Hungarian Librarians
Kiss, Jenö (1993) The management of public libraries in a changing society. Manuscript
Klausen, Susanne (1993) Politisk kultur i Ungarn: kontinuitet og forandring kulturelle transformatione. Köbenhavn: Forlaget sociologi
Kohn, Melvin L. (1989) Cross-national research as an analytic strategy, in Melvin L. Kohn (ed) Cross national research in sociology, pp. 77-102. Newbury Park: Sage
Lázár, Istvan (1989) Hungary - a brief history. Budapest: Corvina
Ljunquist, Peter et. al (1983) Göteborgs folkbibliotek: en kort historik. Borås: Bibliotekshögskolan
Luquire, Wilson (1983) Attitudes toward automation/innovation in academic libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship (8): 344-351
March, James G and Johan P. Olsen (1976) Ambiguity and choice in organizations. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget
March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen (1983) Organizing political life: What administrative reorganization tells us about government. The American Political Science Review (77): 281-296
March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen (1989) Rediscovering institutions: the organizational basis of politics. New York: Free Press
March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen (1994) Institutional perspectives on political institutions. Oslo: Arena
McColvin, Lionel R. (1978) The purposes and values of a library service, in Barry Totterdell (ed) Public library purpose, pp. 33-39. London
Meyer, John W. and Brian Rowan (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology (83): 340-363
Mittermeyer, Diane (1990) Libraries as "complex" organizations: A concept in need of an operational definition. Library and Information Science Research (12): 321-249
Möhlenbrock, Sigurd (1989) Folkbildning och bibliotek. Göteborg
Muddiman (1990) Towards a definition of public library purpose. Public Library Journal (5): 90-94
Musman, Klaus (1982) The diffusion of innovation in libraries: a review of the literature on organization theory and diffusion research. Libri (32): 257-277
Niskanen, William A (1971) Bureaucracy and representative government. Chicago: Aldine
Niskanen, Wiliam A (1994) A reflection on Bureaucracy and representative Government, in Andre Blais and Stephane Dion (eds) The Budget-Maximizing Bureaucrat, pp 13-31. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
NOU 1991:54 Bibliotek i Norge: For kunnskap, kultur og informasjon
Olaisen, Johan (1988) Librarians - professionals or semi-professionals. Synopsis (19): 59-68
Olsen, Johan P. 1991 Modernization programs in perspective: institutional analysis of organizational change. Governance (4): 125_149
Olsen, Johan P. (1992) Analyzing institutional dynamics. Staatswissenshaft und Staatspraxis (2): 247-271
Parnell, Staffan och Per-Olof Tellander (1989) Verdandi arbetarbibliotek i Uppsala och den svenske bibliotekrörelsen, i Åke Åberg (red) Bibliotekstuderande skriver bibliotekhistoria, pp. 193-227. Borås: Bibliotekshögskolan
Parnell, Staffan (1991) Bibliotekens framtid - intryck från den svenska biblioteksdebatten, i Enmark (red) Biblioteken och framtiden, pp. 171-229. Göteborg: Centrum för biblioteksforskning
Papp, Istvan (1991) Stram livrem i Ungarn. Bok og bibliotek (58): 8-9
Papp, Istvan (1993) The change process in the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library: Problems and their solutions. Manuscript
Péteri, Gabor (1991) Local governments in Hungary, in Péteri (ed) Events and changes: the first steps of local transition in East-Central Europe, pp. 32-41. Budapest: Local democracy and innovation
Pfeffer, Jeffrey (1983) Organizational demography. Research in organizational behavior (5): 299-357
Pfeffer, Jeffrey (1985) Organizational demography: Implications for management. California Management Review (28): 67-81
Pungitore, Verna L (1987) Perceptions of change and public library directors in Indiana: An exploratory study. Library and Information Science Research (9): 247-264
Pungitore, Verna L (1988) The flow of information among public library directors and library change agents. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (29): 262-278
Radford, Gary P (1992) Positivism, Foucault, and the fantasia of the library: Conceptions of knowledge and the modern library experience. Library Quarterly (62): 408-424
Remete, László (1973) Ervin Szabó und seine Beziehungen zu Deutschen Bibliothekaren. Zentralblatt für Bibliothekwesen (92): 257-264
Reynolds, Judy and Jo Bell Whitlatch (1985) Academic library services and the literature of innovation. College and Research Libraries (46): 402-417
Richlich, Illona (1993) A new approach to management in a district library system in Budapest. Manuscript
Ringdal, Nils Johan (1985) By, bok og borger: Deichmanske bibliotek gjennom 200 år. Oslo: Aschehoug
Rogers, Everett M. (1983) Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press
Røvik, Kjell Arne (1994) De-institutionalization and the fashionmechanism. Forthcoming
Sabatier, Paul A. (1986) What can we learn from implementation research? In Kaufman et. al (eds) Guidance, control and evaluation in the public sector, pp. 313-325. Berlin: De Gruyter
Schmidmayer, D (1983) Szabó Erwin - ein noch unbekannter bibliothekar? Zentralblatt für Bibliothekwesen (97): 396-399
Schon, Donald A. (1967) Technology and change: The new Heraclitus. New York: Delacorte Press
Schon, Donald A. (1971) Beyond the stable state. New York: W.W. Norton
Selznick, P. (1984) Leadership in administration. Berkeley: University of California Press
Scott, W. Richard (1981) Organizations rational, natural and open systems. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall
Shoham, Snunith (1986) The public library in a changeable society: Analysis of the Isrealei public libraries. Libri (36): 282-296
Sjöblom, Gunnar (1968) Party strategies in a multi-party system. Lund
SOU 1984:23 Folkbibliotek i Sverige: Betänkande av folkbibliotekutredningen
Statistisk Sentralbyrå (1989) Undersøkelse om bruk av folkebibliotek. Oslo: Statistisk Sentralbyrå
Swiggchem. P.J. van (1985) IFLA and the library world. The Hague: IFLA Headquarters
Thompson, James D. (1967) Organizations in action. New York: Mc.Graw Hill
Thorhauge, Jens (1991) Systemskifte - træk af diskussionen om bibliotekets situation og fremtid i Danmark, i Enmark (red) Biblioteken och framtiden, pp. 9-60. Göteborg: Centrum för biblioteksforskning
Unesco (1972) Unesco public library manifesto. Unesco bulletin for libraries (26):129-131
Vakkari, Pertti and Blaise Cronin (eds) Conceptions of library and information science: historical, empirical and theoretical perspectives. London: Taylor Graham
Vestheim, Geir (1992) Folkebibliotek i forvandling. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget
Vestheim, Geir (1996) Fornuft, kultur velferd. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget.- Doctoral disseration
Vincent, Ida (1984) Staffs perceptions of public library goals: A case study of an Australian public library. Library Quarterly (54): 396-411
Wildawsky, Aaron (1994) Why self-interest means less outside of a social context: cultural contributions to a theory of rational choices. Journal of Theoretical Politics (6): 131-159
Willard, Patricia (1989) Innovation with particular reference to libraries. The Australian Library Journal (38): 241-247
Young, Robert A (1991) Budget size and bureaucratic careers, in André Blais and Stephane Dion (eds) The budget-maximizing bureaucrat, pp. 33-58. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
Zweizig, Douglas and Brenda Dervin (1977) Public library use, users: advance in knowledge of the adult clientele of American public libraries. Advances in Librarianship (7): 231-255