Library Next: Seven Action Steps for Reinvention

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A call to action that extends beyond administrators and managers to all library workers, Murray-Rust’s book will give readers a voice in creating a positive future for libraries.

After a career of more than 40 years, Murray-Rust, former Dean of Libraries at Georgia Tech and a self-proclaimed library disrupter, sees our profession’s central challenge as simply this: how to turn the library outward in order to make a difference in the lives of individuals and the community. In this book she encourages readers to look an uncertain library future square in the eye. She shares stories from her transformational years at Georgia Tech Libraries which present both inspiration and practical advice on how to stand up for values while changing the ways we act upon them. Organized around seven action steps for change, this book offers takeaways and activities you can adapt to your work style and organizational culture. You will learn from such stories and lessons as

  • the three different kinds of information you need for measuring impact;
  • using new frameworks, outside fragmented, risk-adverse library structures, to get the work done;
  • the limitations of trying to manage your way through major cultural change;
  • embedding in the community to develop visions and strategies for improvement;
  • painful and challenging times that set Murray-Rust on a path of self-learning;
  • how an uncomfortable assignment led to a sought-after seat at the table for a university-wide capital construction project;
  • the bold promise that got the library onto the high-priority list for renovation;
  • visiting a Toyota plant to learn how to encourage employee engagement and creativity; and
  • learning to listen with the "turning outward" philosophy of Harwood Institute.


Chapter 1    Why Turn Yourself and Your Library toward Your Community? 
Chapter 2    Begin with Yourself
Chapter 3    Action Step One: Look Outside Your Social Circle, Profession, and Organization for Ideas and Inspiration
Chapter 4    Action Step Two: Be Curious about the Future
Chapter 5    Action Step Three: Make Bold, Public Plans

Chapter 6    Action Step Four: Cultivate Relationships with Allies and Champions
Chapter 7    Actions Step Five: Create Successful Change
Chapter 8    Action Step Six: Implement a Framework for Action and Innovation
Chapter 9    Action Step Seven: Focus on Impact

Conclusion: Onward!

  •     Appendix A    Georgia Tech Library Revised Mission, Vison, Values, and Expected Behaviors
  •     Appendix B    Georgia Tech Library Portfolio Management Example: Price Gilbert Computing Technology Project Status Report


Catherine Murray-Rust

Catherine Murray-Rust retired in August 2020 as the dean of libraries at the Georgia Institute of Technology. For more than 40 years she has been a change agent, reimagining library services and collections to meet the needs of the community. Now she focuses on telling encouraging stories and offering practical advice about how to help libraries thrive in the future.

"The perfect introduction to reevaluating and reinventing the role of the library, be it on campus, in the school, or in the community. The activities spread throughout the book serve as great reflective moments, allowing readers to absorb what they learn and apply that knowledge to their own libraries ... This book is a great read and will be revisited frequently."
— Choice

"As the author rightly points out, the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustices have forced librarians to rethink their programs of resources and service. In her preface, she offers 'action steps to navigate these rapidly changing times and prepare for a brighter future.' To this end, she writes from her 40 years of experience transforming academic libraries ... She does not shy away from challenges and frustrations but rather shows how to deal with those situations and learn from the experiences. This book provides a unique, revealing look at library issues, particularly from a change-agent approach."
— Booklist

"This insightful book offers ideas that can be easily implemented by librarians who want to develop their trailblazing and leadership skills in order to pave the way for the future of their institutions."
— Library Journal

"This book is equally useful as a leadership development resource and a guide for change and project management approaches in libraries .. Through its accessible and compelling grounding of theoretical concepts through stories and case studies, this book is relevant for librarians at any point in their career and would serve well as a text in a course on leadership, change management or academic libraries. "
— Technical Services Quarterly