Book by Marcy Simons explores the evolving landscape of the academic library profession

Author: Jenna Mrozinske

Marcy Simons, organizational development librarian at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries, has published a book titled “Academic Library Metamorphosis and Regeneration.” She explores the remarkable transformations in the academic library profession over decades and outlines how this complex history can prepare the industry for future change.

In her review of the book, Jan Hayes, director of Library Organizational Development at Northwestern University Libraries, wrote,

“‘Academic Library Metamorphosis and Regeneration’ by Marcy Simons is an invaluable guide for champions of change in the library environment. Ms. Simons distills the wisdom and experience of leaders both inside and outside of the library field in a very accessible format. This resource provides library staff at all levels of experience an understanding of the theory and practice of change management and the tools and resources for leaders struggling with change initiatives. In a world where change is a constant, Ms. Simons gives us an opportunity to learn from the past to create a better future.”

Simons says, “It’s time to put the stereotype of Dewey’s clerks away and introduce the world, with confidence, to tomorrow’s research life-cycle management partner.” She offers guidance and resources for academic libraries that are either just beginning or in the midst of a change process. Key areas of focus include: the changing landscape for libraries, the human element of change, and the role of change champions.

Evolving with the constantly changing landscape

Simons presents evidence that academic libraries have been in the midst of rapid change, largely a result of the digital age. She has focused her research on how the profession has responded to advancements in technology and the changing needs of users.

New positions have emerged and traditional roles have changed dramatically. Libraries faced additional challenges in acquiring, preserving, and maintaining access to information, along with the associated costs. How have academic libraries overcome these challenges?

Simons says, “We have emerged as valued partners throughout many stages of the research life cycle by watching and listening to our users. Excellence in service for our users has been the path to transformation.”

Understanding the human element of change

One factor that is agreed upon by most change management experts is that change initiatives must be considered from every angle — they often fail because human nature isn’t considered. Simons says change efforts depend on how well human resources accept, apply, and adopt the new — yet these same resources can also be the biggest obstacle to success.

Readers gain insights about the effect that change has on people and reasons why some embrace and others might resist new ideas. Regardless of where people are on this spectrum, Simons says it is critical to connect and communicate with those affected to ensure smooth implementation and lasting change.

Becoming a change champion

Simons believes that change champions are the backbone of a successful reorganization or change process. They are active members within the change management project who see the vision of success and help facilitate the change process.

She offers suggestions for building skills that will help the next generation of leaders continue to grow with the ever-changing landscape of academic libraries. Simons says, “We must embrace innovation and be leaders in advancing change, rather than just responding to the environment. I would love for more people to become change champions.”

About the author

Marcy Simons is the organizational development librarian at the University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries. Her path in the profession has allowed her to learn from both staff roles and now a library faculty role, where she serves on the senior leadership team.

As a member of the senior leadership team, Simons helps to shape and implement vision, strategic plans, and priority initiatives. She works to integrate leadership and continuous learning opportunities at every level in order to advance library goals.

As the organizational development librarian, she assesses the effectiveness of organizational structure and operations, manages change processes and continuous improvement, and stewards organizational culture by working closely with leadership, supervisors, faculty and staff colleagues, library teams, and campus partners. A change champion, player’s coach, and certified Six Sigma Green Belt, she is passionate about living her mantra of “being the change.”

“Academic Library Metamorphosis and Regeneration” is published by Rowman & Littlefield and is available from Amazon.

ISBN-13: 978-1442273078

ISBN-10: 1442273070

Contact: Marcy Simons, Hesburgh Libraries, (574) 631-2871

Originally published by Jenna Mrozinske at on April 25, 2018.