Managing conflict in the library information services of selected universities


Academic libraries are not immune to conflict; various important external and internal factors underlie conflict. Change, both external and internal, leads to interpersonal conflict amongst librarians which is caused by differing goals, policies, rules and decisions. Technology has been the major change in the digital era and academic libraries embarking on meeting the needs of the users have to manage change. It is important to understand how change evolves in order to manage it and the faster the change, the more conflict can be expected. The main purpose of this study is to investigate change and conflict in library and information services. The study collected data from two selected academic libraries - Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu. The reason for this choice is that the two libraries are from the Eastern Border region and strategically located to serve the deep rural and poverty-stricken communities. Both libraries are from merged institutions, under-developed and faced with change and conflict. Data was gathered by means of a literature study and face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with six participants in each library: two librarians in senior, two middle management and two librarians occupying lower level positions. Purposive sampling was used to select participants who fit the criteria and who could contribute to the study. The findings reveal that library staff experience stress and conflict because of external and internal factors of change impacting the academic environment. The study generated important findings which are capable of guiding academic library management on how to manage change effectively in the „new‟ electronic environment. The findings show that understanding conflict also equips management with strategies and techniques to manage conflict effectively. This study offers valuable insights into the lived conflict experiences and perceptions of librarians and sheds much light on the role of conflict management in these environments. This study will contribute to the management of conflict in information services in university libraries and will be an innovative application of conflict theory to the library discipline

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Nelson Mandela University

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This paper was published in Nelson Mandela University.

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