Public Library Administration

Course Description and Rationale

This course will give students practical knowledge to begin work as a public library administrator. It was originally developed as part of the IMLS grant, Public Library Leadership (PuLL) program.

Course Goals and Objectives:

By the end of the course, students will have a greater understanding of:

  • The place of the library in the community (weeks 1 – 2)
  • The importance of effective internal and external communication and policies (weeks 3, 4, 7, 8, 13, 14)
  • The library budgeting process, including human resources and facilities (weeks 5, 6, 7, 12, 14)
  • Problem solving (weeks 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14)
  • Change management (weeks 10, 11)
  • Care of staff (weeks 11, 15)


Required for all:

  • Disher, W. (2010). Crash Course in Public Library Administration. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Required for PuLL students:

  • Dann, J., and Dann, D. (2012). The Emotional Intelligence Workbook. London: Hoder Education.

Online Course Access

You may access the course via Under course login, select Canvas and enter your PawPrint. If you have difficulty logging in to the course or you do not see the course listed, please contact the Mizzou IT Help Desk at (573)882-5000.

Library Resources

Access to the library will be critical to your academic success. You may also access the University of Missouri Library Distance Education Support Service page at: .

IT Resources

All enrolled students are eligible for a free copy of MS Office 365 ProPlus, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. It can be downloaded by logging into your university email account. Go to: Settings>Office 365 Settings>Software. Other resources, including other software , are available through the department of IT.


What to Expect from a Technology-Enhanced Course– This course meets Monday evening 7 – 8. It is essential that you access the course site Monday through Friday for course announcements, and to interact with the group on the discussion board.
What the Instructors and Your Peers Expect from You- By enrolling in this course, you have agreed to contribute to weekly discussions by accessing the Discussion Board regularly (2-3 times per week, Tuesday through Sunday). This will require a team effort, with respect and help for each other, as we build a community of learners. We also expect that you will have a foundational understanding of Internet terms and functions. All general class correspondence should be submitted to the relevant Discussion Board forum; only personal or confidential matters should be directed to the instructor in e-mail.
What You May Expect from the Instructor – Monitor and facilitate class, respond to private questions within 24 to 48 hours, provide timely feedback on written assignments and projects, and help build a learning community.

Assignments and Grading Criteria

  • Budget Assignment (15%): Your budget is a reflection of your mission and priorities. A library director needs to be able to “think big”, be visionary, and at the same time deal with the limitations that come from having to allocate money towards salaries, building upkeep, and the library’s regular collection. You will be given an actual library budget and will be presented with some issues that you will need to address in order to write next year’s budget, and then you will present your budget to a combined meeting of the staff and library board (this will be done in a powerpoint!).
  • Human Resources Assignment (10%): This assignment will require you to analyze rules and regulations in human resources. You will be presented with a case. Your paper will discuss laws and library policies that relate to the case. Finally, you will develop a plan of action to solve the problem.

    Your paper should include the following clearly sections (you may include subsections if needed):

    A statement of the case
    An explanation of the problem in both terms of both law and internal policy
    Solutions to the problem, including how it will affect internal policy

    The paper should be 4 – 5 pages long, not including the APA-style bibliography.

  • Continuing Education Assignment (10%): What are the most important things going on in librarianship, today? For this assignment, you will assume the role of library director, and you have a budget for continuing education for you and your staff. Your job is to consider what you and your staff need to know in order to stay current in the field. You will design a plan of action for continuing education with a limited budget. You will identify:

    Webinar opportunities
    Online or face-to-face courses
    Staff day events

    Discuss who will attend different events, why, and what the requirements are for attendance (i.e., do they need to make a post-attendance presentation to the rest of the staff?) You will present your decisions to the staff as an internal memo that is 2 – 3 pages.

    You will find out how much the events cost and use a spreadsheet to create your budget.

    There are a variety of events offered through:

    the state:

  • Potentials and Practicalities (15%): You are a library director. Your library has a policy of collecting anonymous suggestions from the staff regarding new services and innovations. It is now that time of the year…budget time! This is the time of the year when you have to make decisions about all of the amazing ideas your staff comes up with. Unfortunately, you don’t have an unlimited budget, so you are forced to make hard decisions. For this assignment, you will be presented with a laundry list of (real!) suggestions. It is your job to decide which ones you can fund. You will look at your library’s mission, goals and objectives and decide what you can do, what you cannot do (now or ever) and why. You will present your decisions to “the employees at a staff meeting” (meaning, the other PuLL students in class) in a powerpoint in our last class. This assignment will demonstrate that you can make decisions based on budget constraints, think innovatively about ways to meet the needs of various types of people in your community, and communicate with employees as an administrator.
  • Organizational Chart (8%): Not all communities are the same, and libraries work with many different groups outside of the library. For this assignment, you will create an internal and external organizational chart or illustration of relationships. The purpose is to show who works with whom around the entire community–such as nonprofits, grassroots organizations, and clubs. You will find out about the library’s relationships by talking to people in the library: department heads and other employees, and by reading any publications or documentation about the library. You might have an organizational chart that includes library employees, with bubbles around it for all of the groups that the library works with.

    You can get really creative with this assignment. It can be low-tech (drawn, collage, etc.) or high-tech (Word, Adobe, powerpoint, etc.) or a mix of the two (multi- or mixed – media). Low-tech versions will need to be captured electronically.

Blackboard Collaborate

This class uses Blackboard Collaborate, a real-time, digital learning environment independent of a physical classroom. Students and instructors can participate in distance learning and collaboration regardless of their physical location using their own computer. Complete technical specifications including hardware and browser information are found online (Links to an external site.) . To fully participate in a Collaborate session, we recommend using a headset with microphone. While I recognize that occasionally you might have technical difficulties, if you are regularly unable to contribute to class conversations because you do not have audio capabilities, you will not get full credit. Everyone is expected to be in class and ready to discuss the texts, via audio. You might want to use a webcam at some point, though it will not be necessary. Many laptops already have built-in webcams so make sure you check before purchasing a webcam.


The weekly routine: Every week, you should expect to login to the course site no fewer than 3 times: once on Monday during class, and at least twice during the week to participate on the discussion board.

Each weekly unit will have assigned readings, a Collaborate session, and weekly discussion questions. We have class on Monday night, and on Tuesday I will open the discussion board. You should complete your readings and review the course commentary before posting to the discussion board. In addition to posting your own original posting addressing the discussion question by midnight Wednesday, you must comment/reflect upon the postings of at least two peers by midnight Sunday. If you want to take the weekend off, just finish up on Friday! If you work more on the weekends, you are free to respond to your classmates on Saturday and Sunday (but your first post must still be made by Wednesday).

Conventions for Naming Assignments and Grading Criteria for Discussion Board

Course Schedule

Week 1: August 24 – 30: Local Government
Disher, Chapter 1
Henricks, Susan A., and Genevieve M. Henricks-Lepp. “Desired Characteristics of Management and Leadership for Public Library Directors as Expressed in Job Advertisements.” Journal of Library Administration 54, no. 4 (2014): 277-290.
Assignment: Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 8/24, 7 – 8 pm

Week 2: Aug 31 – Sept 6, Public Administrators, power, and politics
Disher, Chapter 2 – 4, 9
Stenström, Cheryl, and Ken Haycock. “Influence and Increased Funding in Canadian Public Libraries: The Case of Alberta in Fiscal Year 2009–10.” The Library 1 (2014).
Slack, Enid, and Richard Bird. “Merging municipalities: Is bigger better? .” IMFG Papers on Municipal Finance and Governance 14 (2013): 1-34.
Assignment: Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 8/31, 7 – 8 pm

Week 3: Sept 7 – 13, Planning by listening: the importance of communication
Disher, Chapters 6 and 8
Ford, Jeffrey D., and Laurie W. Ford. “The role of conversations in producing intentional change in organizations .” Academy of Management Review 3 (1995): 541-570.
Cottrell, Terrance Luther. “Weeding worries, part 1: books.” Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, The 26.3 (2013): 98-102.
Assignment: Discussion Board
No Class! Happy Labor Day.

Week 4: Sept 14 – 20, Planning: Who is your community?
Disher Chapter 13
Hertel, Karen, and Nancy Sprague. “GIS and census data: tools for library planning .” Library hi tech 25, no. 2 (2007): 246-259.
Sarling, Jo Haight, and Debra S. Van Tassel. “Community analysis: research that matters to a North-Central Denver community.” Library & information science research 21, no. 1 (1999): 7-29.
Assignment: Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 9/14, 7 – 8 pm

Week 5: Sept 21 – 27. Budgeting.
Disher, Chapter 5
Show me the Keys: Tax Levy Setting. . Webinar by James Smith, CFO for DBRL.
U.S. Impact Study, Instructional Video, Making Connections: Chapters 1 – 4.
Assignment: Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 9/21, 7 – 8 pm

Week 6: Sept 28 – Oct 4. Budgeting, Part 2.
Holley, Robert P. “Library Planning and Budgeting: a few underappreciated principles.” Journal of Library Administration 54: 720 – 729, 2014.
Show me the Keys: Library Budget. Webinar by James Smith, CFO for DBRL.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 9/28, 7 – 8 pm

Week 7: Oct 5 – 11. Human Resources.
Disher, Chapter 7
Singer, Rachel. Chapter 3 of The Accidental Library Manager (pp. 57 – 88).
Nesbit, Rebecca, Jeffrey L. Brudney, and Robert Christensen. “Exploring the Limits of Volunteerism in Public Service Delivery: Substituting Volunteer Labor for Paid Labor.” (2012).
Discussion Board
Budget Assignment due October 11

Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 10/5, 7 – 8 pm
Week 8: Oct 12 – 18. Team Building and breaking down silos.
Disher Chapter 10
Death by Meeting (excerpt)
Cervone, H. Frank. “Improving Strategic Planning by Adapting Agile Methods to the Planning Process.” Journal of Library Administration 54.2 (2014): 155-168.
Discussion Board

Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 10/12, 7 – 8 pm
Week 9: Oct 19 – 25. Solving Problems and Making Decisions
Disher Chapter 11
Hirst, Giles, Daan Van Knippenberg, and Jing Zhou. “A cross-level perspective on employee creativity: Goal orientation, team learning behavior, and individual creativity.” Academy of Management Journal 2 (2009): 280-293.
Isaksen, Scott G., and Göran Ekvall. “Managing for innovation: The two faces of tension in creative climates.” Creativity and Innovation Management 19.2 (2010): 73-88.
Discussion Board

Human Resources Assignment Due October 25

Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 10/19, 7 – 8 pm

Week 10: Oct 26 – Nov 1. Change Management.
Disher Chapter 15
Karp, Tom, and Thomas IT Helg⊘. “From change management to change leadership: embracing chaotic change in public service organizations.” Journal of change management1 (2008): 85-96.
Phipps, Shelley E., and Amos Lakos. “Creating a Culture of Assessment: A Catalyst for Organizational Change.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.3 (2004): 345-361.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 10/26, 7 – 8 pm

Week 11: Nov 2 – 8. Continuing Education: How can administration ensure that staff stays nimble?
Bitter-Rijpkema, M., S. Verjans, and R. Bruijnzeels. “The Library School: Empowering the Sustainable Innovation Capacity of New Librarians.” Library Management 33.1 (2012): 36-49.
WebJunction : Self-Directed Achievement module.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 11/2, 7 – 8 pm

Week 12: Nov 9 – 15. Facilities Management.
Disher Chapter 12
Dahlgren, Anders. “Public Library Space Needs: A Planning Outline.” Online .
Bratteteig, Tone, and Ina Wagner. “Spaces For Participatory Creativity.” Codesign 8.2/3 (2012): 105-126.Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 11/15, 7 – 8 pm

Week 13: Nov 16 – 20. Public Policies.
Disher Chapter 14
LibrarySecurityGuide (distributed)
Sample Public Library Policies & Development Tips. Online:
Library Crisis Scene Investigators : Library 411.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 11/16, 7 – 8 pm

Thanksgiving Break: Nov 21 – 29

Week 14: Nov 30 – Dec 6. Consortia and the Greater Library Environment.
Posner, Beth, and Evan Simpson. “The Rethinking Resource Sharing Initiative: education, advocacy and inspiration for libraries.” Interlending & Document Supply 39, no. 3 (2011): 142-147.
Bacon, Donna, and George Machovec. “Interconsortial Cooperation for Resource Sharing: MOBIUS and Prospector.” Journal of Library Administration54.3 (2014): 251-260.
Discussion Board
Potentials & Practicalities Assignment Due December 6
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 11/30, 7 – 8 pm

Week 15: Dec 7 – 10. Mentoring and personal growth: how to nurture yourself and others
Mastel, Kristen, and Genevieve Innes. “Insights and Practical Tips on Practicing Mindful Librarianship to Manage Stress .” LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal1 (2013).
Preventing Burnout.
Maslach, Christina, and Michael P. Leiter. “Take this Job and … Love it!” Psychology Today Sep 1999: 50-53.
Discussion Board
Class (Blackboard Collaborate): 12/7, 7 – 8 pm

Finals Week: Dec 15 – 19
Organizational Chart (final version) due December 17