May 17, 2022

New Issue Brief From Ithaka S+R: “Finding a Way from the Margins to the Middle: Library Information Technology, Leadership, and Culture”

Here’s a new issue brief released today by Ithaka S+R and written by:

Dale Askey
McMaster University

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

From the Brief:

2017-05-18_08-21-07Given the number and variety of significant information technology projects led or supported by research libraries, one could incorrectly assume that information technology has been successfully integrated into our organizations. Unlike other recent library service program developments—namely, information literacy and scholarly communication, which also started on the margins—information technology has not found its way to the “middle” in most of our organizations. Information technology workers, not solely but in particular, experience a lingering divide between the culture of the information technology unit and the library culture at large as an unproductive chasm. As a result, libraries fail to develop the full potential in their technology-dependent service programs and, ultimately, library users are left without the kinds of programs and products that would create real value for them.

As with more and more collaborations these days, this Issue Brief has its origins in an exchange on social media, a short but provocative discussion of Library IT and organizational structure. Ultimately, the authors decided to submit a proposal to speak at CNI, hopeful but frankly skeptical that the topic would resonate with attendees who generally seek out project updates. While we had hoped for perhaps a dozen or two people, approximately 65 attended. Aside from the strong turnout, what surprised but heartened us was how eager the audience was to participate in a discussion. It was also clear that many had come seeking answers to or suggestions for some of the real issues they face in recruiting and retaining staff in information technology roles. While the discussion resulted in few answers, this Issue Brief stands as the next attempt to continue this conversation in pursuit of strategies and tactics to address these challenging issues.[1]

Read the Complete Issue Brief (About 3850 words)

PDF Version (12 pages; PDF)

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.