May 25, 2022

Workforce Preparation: Dean of Oklahoma St. University Libraries on OSU’s Library Future Series

Sheila Grant Johnson, Dean of Libraries at Oklahoma St. University, shares a workplace transformation story in a new essay posted on the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) web site.

The essay begins:

I have held a series of administrative positions at Oklahoma State University (OSU) since 1978 and have been dean of libraries since 2004. During that time we have experienced a number of changes and in 2012 the OSU Library looked to be thriving. We had adopted technology to enhance collections and improve services. We had been a development partner with Summon and were in a similar role with Intota. We consistently received positive survey results and comments for our services and collections. Our building was heavily used by students. For most of my staff and many of my librarians, the library looked healthy and robust. We were clearly not stagnant, but I had a strong sense that many librarians had not yet acknowledged how precarious our future was in research libraries. Staff members who did not have opportunities to attend professional meetings or the time to read the professional literature were unaware of the danger we were in. They did not fully comprehend how the transformations in technology, scholarly communication, and higher education would change their work, nor did they recognize how the competitive challenges from Google and others could make our traditional services irrelevant.

To prepare my staff to participate in the redesign of our work processes and to help prioritize our future work, I needed to give them opportunities to learn about the drivers of change and how other libraries are responding. They needed information to help inform their participation. Raynna Bowlby, an associate in Library Management Consulting, and I together designed the OSU Library Future Series (LFS).

Read the Complete Essay (1204 Words)

See Also: More Workplace Transformation Stories From ARL

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.