Moving with the times
Module 3: Sustaining your library association
Topic 7: Change Management
Few library associations can continue to operate as they have traditionally done, especially when the country’s political and economic climate undergoes dramatic change. To remain sustainable, associations need to understand how to become flexible and responsive to rapidly changing environments. Change management means that leaders need to be able to anticipate change both within the association and in the external areas of practice. This case study considers the ways in which the Indonesian Library Association (ILA) recognised the need develop effective change management processes so that the association remained viable and relevant in a new political environment.
As you read the case study, think about the following issues:
- The role of library associations
- The challenges faced by library associations
- The role and purpose of a SWOT analysis
- The value of strategic planning
- The factors that help make a dynamic library association
The Indonesian Library Association (ILA), known locally as Ikatan Pustakawan Indonesia (IPI), was established in 1973. It is the only formal association for the library profession in Indonesia, with branches in each of the 33 provinces. One of the main activities is to host an annual meeting to bring librarians together to discuss matters of common interest. Since 1980 the Indonesian National Library has supported the association both financially and administratively, firstly by hosting the ILA secretariat at the National Library, and secondly by having the Head of the National Library serve as Chairman of the Central Board of the ILA. The political and economic changes in Indonesia in 1998 had a significant impact on the ILA. While the association had traditionally focused on the role of libraries in society, there was a new push to consider the issue of professionalism of librarians.
Indonesia has a population of almost 250 million, distributed across the archipelago of more than 17,500 islands. In 1998, Indonesia felt the impact of the economic crisis, resulting in the fall of the New Order regime of President Soeharto and the emergence of the Reform Movement led by Amin Rais. The Movement introduced a democratic political system to replace the earlier autocratic dictatorship, with 48 new political parties contesting the elections in 1999. Society became far more open and a free market was introduced. Such major reforms inevitably resulted in a wave of change across the professions in Indonesia, including the ILA. The association was challenged to move away from its centralised bureaucratic traditions to adopt a more open, democratic and devolved framework of governance. Administratively, there was increased autonomy at the provincial level. At the same time, as society became more liberal in outlook, a number of other professional groups formed, including: the Public Library Forum, the University Library Forum, the School Library Forum, the Special Library Forum and the Association of Indonesian Library and Information Scholars. Discussion
The ILA acknowledges the challenges of an association serving a large country like Indonesia. Despite the commitment and dedication of some of the association’s leading figures, many members were frustrated by the problems caused by the lack of funding and the difficulty in attracting good quality staff. The first steps in the journey of reform were to simplify the association’s organisational structure and to encourage the provincial branches to become more autonomous and creative. A further bold move was to invite “some new faces, young librarians with strong commitment and high competency, to participate actively and directly in the decision making process in the Association board meeting and put them in strategic position[s] in the organisational structure” (Gani & Zen, 2009, p.401).
The ILA felt that it had a significant role to play in promoting and supporting library services in the communities in Indonesia, specifically in terms of social issues such as improving education standards, as well as fostering intellectual freedom and the privacy of library users. The main strategy has been to support the provision of information literacy training to enable all library users to independently access the information resources that they need. The ILA was aware that effective communication strategies were essential, introducing a monthly newsletter for members and encouraging the wider use of digital technologies. Resources are being developed to help librarians meet the desired standards for effective library services and to evaluate their services and programs. The association also hopes to create a valid research base to inform the development of library services that are aligned with the community’s demographic, economic and ethnographic profiles. The education and training of library personnel also feature on the ILA’s agenda, together with the development of strategies to promote and support librarians at all stages of their career. The ILA recognises the need to create good working conditions, to ensure fair compensation and to encourage members to use emerging technologies.
Despite the immense progress made since 1998, the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has presented the ILA with new problems. The social impact of the GFC is widely felt in Indonesia, with higher levels of unemployment and the potential for civil unrest. Tighter fiscal policies on the part of government mean budget cuts to many library services. The association itself needs to address four areas of immediate concern:
- The ongoing absence of LIS qualifications amongst library staff, along with the lack of direct LIS expertise amongst managers of libraries
- The problems of managing membership data, due to the lack of IT infrastructure
- The lack of funds to produce the professional journal
- The challenge of collecting membership dues, resulting in low income streams
The ILA is preparing to adjust to the new social and economic climate in which it operates, to ensure that it has a sustainable future.
By adjusting its management style and streamlining the organisational structure, the ILA has managed to survive the political and economic changes in Indonesia. It has grown its membership by identifying and meeting the needs of the majority of its members and by attracting new members, particularly the young professional librarians, to become a more vital and vibrant organisation. Nevertheless, the journey of change management continues, as ILA now believes it should redefine the criteria for membership of the association. It will be important to re-evaluate and prioritise the programs offered to members and to find more creative ways to raise funds, while continuing to encourage libraries to play a key role in helping their communities survive the economic crisis through the provision of the right information resources.
- Can you outline the strategies the ILA used to adapt to the changing times in Indonesia?
- What changes do you feel have had the most impact?
- In what ways is the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) affecting your own library association?
- How important is it to manage change? List some of the strategies that you think might help your association meet political and economic change in your country.
- Do you believe that libraries can play a role in supporting the community through times of economic uncertainty? If so, what can your library association do to support the libraries and the library staff?
Resource: Case study
Region: Asia and Oceania
Agency: Indonesian Library Association (ILA)
Topic: Change management
Keywords: change management, economic crisis, membership, strategic planning
Gani, F. & Zen, Z. (2009). Reinventing library association: Indonesia’s experience and perspective. Paper presented at CONSAL XIV: 14th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, Hanoi, Vietnam, April 21-22, 2009. Available online: http://eprints.rclis.org/16498/ Indonesian Library Association (ILA)/ Ikatan Pustakawan Indonesia (IPI). http://www.ipi.or.id/
Last update: 21 October 2012