Research Article

Leadership, Development, and Expertise: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Scholarly Communication Librarian Position Announcements

  • Angela Hackstadt orcid logo (University at Albany, SUNY)


INTRODUCTION In 2012, the Association of Research Libraries reported that 95% of libraries identified their libraries as leaders of scholarly communication efforts on campus. While academic librarians have long been responsible for SC issues, institutions have explicitly tasked positions with these responsibilities increasingly over time. This qualitative analysis of position announcements focuses on the ways libraries expect these librarians to engage with SC issues and responsibilities, rather than describing the prevalence of SC-related functions. Specifically, this study asks the following questions: (1) How do administrators communicate leadership expectations of SC librarian roles through job advertisements? (2) In what ways could these leadership expectations be challenging or problematic for SC librarians in non-administrator positions? METHODS This study is a qualitative content analysis of scholarly communication librarian position announcements posted to ALA JobList between January 1, 2016, and July 31, 2019. The advertisements are predominantly from North American academic libraries. Qualitative content analysis is systematic but allows for flexibility of interpretation in describing themes and categories. The coding scheme developed over multiple readings of the data and the author identified categories through the process of subsumption. RESULTS & DISCUSSION Prevalent themes in position announcements include leadership, expertise, and development. Leadership responsibilities appear as management duties or, often in non-administrator positions, as an expectation to take initiative or be an exemplar. SC librarians are expected to be experts, often as the library’s campus liaison or as educators in a variety of SC issues. They may also be tasked with developing institutional repositories or SC programs, though it is not always clear in the advertisement what support is available. These themes are discussed in terms of the SC librarian as a boundary spanning role. Boundary spanners are positions within an organization that communicate with the outside environment. They may also serve as filters for information coming into the organization or facilitate communication between departments or units in an organization. CONCLUSION In SC librarian job advertisements, positional authority is often absent from positions that have a responsibility to lead or develop SC efforts, programs, or initiatives. Non-experts may bestow some level of authority to experts. However, leadership and development tasks may prove difficult for a SC librarian who lacks the ability to make decisions or organizational changes. Suggestions for institutions and potential further research are discussed.


External Data or Supplements:
Hackstadt, A. (2020). Data from: Leadership, Development, and Expertise: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Scholarly Communication Librarian Position Announcements., Harvard Dataverse.

Keywords: scholarly communication, job advertisements, hiring, leadership, development, expertise, boundary roles, boundary spanning

How to Cite:

Hackstadt, A., (2020) “Leadership, Development, and Expertise: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Scholarly Communication Librarian Position Announcements”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 8(1), eP2376. doi:

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Published on
28 Aug 2020
Peer Reviewed