Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Co-Chair; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Co-Chair; Lili Luo, PhD, Member


academic libraries, succession planning, leadership development, University of California, library administrators, library managers, library management, library administration


The Library and Information Science (LIS) literature has made clear that academic libraries in the U.S. have experienced decades of hiring freezes and budget cuts that reduced staffing overall and eliminated many middle management positions. Consequently, now that baby boomer library managers and administrators are beginning to retire, there are few qualified applicants to replace them. Thus, many in the LIS field have called for better succession planning by top-level library administrators (e.g., Deans, Directors, University Librarians). Few studies, however, have directly addressed this issue by examining these administrators’ perceptions or behavior regarding succession planning. This study begins to fill this literature gap through semi-structured interviews with all 10 of the University Librarians (ULs) in the University of California (UC) system.

The study employed a case study/cross-case analysis design; each participant-UL was considered a case. During data analysis, a within-case thematic analysis was conducted for each participant and then a cross-case analysis was undertaken to compare and contrast the ULs’ perspectives on succession planning. A theoretical framework drawn from the field of sociology was used to better understand the perceptions and behavior of participant-ULs regarding this topic. This framework suggested examining the structure and culture of the context in which each UL worked, as well as the perceived agency of each participating UL.

This study’s findings suggest that structure, culture, and agency can significantly impact how and why the ULs engage or do not engage in succession planning. For example, the retirement pension for UC employees encourages long-term retention, which leads to low employee turnover. A static population may resist a ULs’ attempts at cultural change. Thus, both low turnover and resistance to change can make succession planning a challenge for ULs.

The results of this study contribute to both LIS literature and practice in at least two ways. First, this study’s findings could be useful to other academic library administrators, given that the study identifies potentially transferable strategies that the ULs in the study are utilizing to succession plan. Second, this study helps further a conversation in the disciplinary literature about how and why to develop future library leaders.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.