Case studies in the BSLA programme

A typical case study presents an example of a specific aspect of library association practice. The case studies build on the BSLA learning materials. It is a detailed account, or story, of what happened in a particular library association at a given point in time. Case studies can be used as part of a workshop, or separately, to analyse a situation. You will have the opportunity to think critically about the information presented through a series of discussion questions, to better understand the situation and develop a solution.

Using the case studies

Each BSLA module indicates where a case study may be relevant to the topic. Each case study is then cross-referenced to a topic in the training modules. You can use the case studies: As part of a workshop to illustrate a real problem or solution With your association’s board to discuss how your association might approach the same situation Independently, to build your own knowledge of how other associations find solutions

Contents of each case study

  • Abstract
  • Key ideas – issues to be considered when reading the case study
  • Relevant topics from the learning materials
  • Profile of the library association
  • Scope – the background and context
  • Description of the main issues
  • Questions to encourage readers to think critically about the issues
  • Information sources
  • Case notes (tags)

Developing new case studies

IFLA is seeking new case studies to add to this initial collection of 20 cases. When you are running a BSLA workshop, think about the opportunities to draw new topics case studies from the discussions. Case studies in any language from any library association are welcome. If you would like to suggest a potential case study, please contact Fiona Bradley.

List of case studies by module

Module 1: Library associations in society

Community libraries to support community needs
For some years, the Library Society of China (LSC) has had a strong focus on building the infrastructure and professional support required for good quality library services. The case study outlines a number of initiatives that have sought to strengthen the association’s influence on government, improve professional standards and increase awareness about the value of libraries to the community. The programs coordinated by the LSC ensured that the association was in a position to demonstrate leadership in difficult times.

In the strictest confidence
While library associations can make a significant contribution to the development of government policy and legislation, they also face challenges resulting from ongoing socio-political changes that impact on library services. The case study highlights the role played the Illinois Library Association (ILA) to safeguard library users’ democratic rights to confidentiality and privacy at a time when there was pressure to amend the legislation to allow law enforcement officers access to library records.

The business of information literacy
In recent years, there has been a focus on the role played by libraries to contribute to higher levels of information literacy in society as a whole. It is widely acknowledged that the contemporary environment of rapid individual, community and workplace change, a static body of knowledge cannot equip people with the capabilities to adapt, thrive or advance. The ability to respond to changing information is now a critical life skill. This case study describes the work undertaken by business librarians at the New South Wales Business Chamber (Australia) who saw the need to help their own corporate library community become more information literate.

What’s in it for me – and us?
Library associations are organisations where library and information workers come together to share knowledge and experiences and move the profession forward. They lay down standards for performance, provide a range of services to their users and are responsible for looking after their interests. An individual’s decision to join (or renew) a professional membership focuses on a balancing act between the questions “what’s in it for me (the individual)?” and “what’s in it for us (the association)?” This case study looks at why individuals become a member of a library association, presenting the perspectives of members of the Medical Library Association (MLA) in the United States and new graduates who have joined the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

Module 2: Building your Library Association

Interest and influence: identifying your stakeholders
Stakeholders are those people or agencies that have an interest in or have some relationship with the library association. The ability to identify your stakeholders is essential if you wish to assess the importance of key people, groups of people, or institutions that may significantly influence the success of an organisation. This case study considers the landscape of library associations and institutions in Denmark to highlight the different stakeholders operating within and across the sector.

The bird that feeds on knowledge, its domain will be the world
Library associations must often deal with the challenge of remaining relevant to both retain the current membership and to attract new members. It may be necessary to review and evaluate the present portfolio of services and consider new strategies that ensure future sustainability. This case study examines how the Library and Information Association of New Zealand –Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa (LIANZA) sought to reverse the trend of falling membership and reinvent itself for relevance in the 21st century. The goal was to alter the value equation for members from ‘what it costs to belong’ to ‘what it costs not to belong’.

SWOT analysis: the example of the Indian Library Association
A review of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses and consideration of the opportunities it may have and the threats that may impact on it represent the key aspects of a SWOT analysis. This case study presents the SWOT analysis of the Indian Library Association (ILA) undertaken by Professor Maitrayee Ghosh in 2006.

The strategic plan says it all
Effective organisations are confident about their role and purpose, as well as having a clear sense of direction that will help them grow and adapt to the changing environment. A strategic plan will assist a library association set its future course and determine the management processes required to achieve its goals. This case study examines the Strategic Plan 2007-2010 for the Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA), with attention paid to one particular strategic goal to “actively recruit new members and promote and encourage their full participation in the activity of the Association”.

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

Module 3: Sustaining your Library Association

A leap into the unknown
The financial viability of a library association is critical to its future sustainability. As socio-demographic changes result in fewer young people becoming members of professional associations, new approaches to association management can be important. The case study outlines the radical steps taken by the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) to critically appraise its weaknesses and to develop an innovative plan to face the challenges, to introduce a radically new business model and to ultimately grow the association. As a sector-focused association, EAHIL has used technology to underpin the development of a network of active members across the European region.

Footsteps to the future
Strategies for sustaining a library association should be viewed as long-term and ongoing, so that the association does not suddenly find itself without office bearers who will lead and guide the association. By holding conferences and training activities, the association can reach a wide audience and provide the opportunities for networking and mentoring new professionals, to encourage them to make their own contribution to the work of the association. This case study introduces a young Native American librarian, Janice Kowemy, whose career provides ample evidence of the role that library associations can play to develop the next generation of library professionals, who in turn contribute to the sustainability of the associations themselves.

Listening carefully to your members
One of the most important functions of an association is to determine the needs and expectations of members and ensure that they are met, and to engage with them to discuss issues of professional significance. Member needs can be identified through a range of tools, for example surveys, meetings, focus groups or via the feedback section of the association’s website. This case study examines a survey of members conducted by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), considers some of the key findings and reports on how the data has been used to improve the services provided to members.

Moving with the times
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.

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

Module 4: Developing Strategic Relationships: Partnerships and Fundraising

Working towards common goals
Many library associations in developing countries face immense challenges due to the lack of resources and infrastructure. In 1999, the Uganda Library Association (ULA) embarked on a planning process that involved developing a series of strategic priorities, supported by five subcommittees to implement the program of activities. The association also established a number of alliances with other agencies to collaboratively achieve common goals. The case study outlines the steps taken by the ULA in the planning process and highlights some of the key achievements. To reflect the changing professional environment, the association adopted a new name in 2004 to become the Uganda Library and Information Association (ULIA).

Making the most of marketing plans
Marketing is a critical dimension of library association management as it will enable the organisation to increase its visibility in the community and develop a stronger profile to attract new members and to help develop strategic relationships with external stakeholders. The case study outlines the marketing plan developed by the South Dakota Library Association (SDLA), with a review of the structure, the audiences and the key features of the plan.

Guiding the course of change
Academic and research libraries play an important role in managing and making accessible scholarly information. However, they face many new challenges as the management of research data and scholarly publishing are transformed by information and communications technologies. This case study explores how the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) entered into a strategic partnership with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in order to address the issues confronting the institutional members of CARL.

Inventing a new way forward
Library associations can play an important role in helping their members develop strategic relationships within their own communities. The case study outlines the work undertaken by members of the Patents and Trademark Depository Library Association (PTDLA) to run an annual InventorFest to promote the role and services of patent and trademark depository libraries. The partnerships developed between local library services and the relationships established with community organisations had a broad community impact.

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

Module 5: Libraries on the agenda

A School Library Promotion Campaign
The campaign entitled School Library Promotion, undertaken by the Norwegian Library Association (NBF), was decisive in the establishment of a national program for school library development in Norway. A series of projects have been completed under the auspices of the Norwegian School Library Program. The project and resource schools have developed several different models showing the use of school libraries as a teaching method. In their reports, the schools point to two decisive success factors: the principal has been project manager and the entire project group has participated in the continuing education courses under the auspices of the program.

Collaborative Networks Supporting Advocacy
Networks and collaboration play a vital role in advocacy campaigns for non-profit organizations such as school library associations and institutions. Most of these organizations are run by volunteers and have limited budgets. The ALIES campaign shows that joining forces and using state-of-the-art communication tools are key components of a successful advocacy campaign. In addition, the creation of ENSIL and the success of the ALIES campaign was due to a shared vision on school libraries for the 21st century and the human factors of mutual understanding, friendship, trust, and leadership..

A Government Mandate for School Libraries in Sweden
Different kinds of library associations can play an immense advocacy role, but working together with actors from outside the library world is important when the goal is to achieve changes in regulations and laws. With help, support and inspiration from international library associations, the Swedish associations succeeded in getting the school library included in the Education Act.

Planning a successful advocacy campaign
Advocacy has been defined as a planned, deliberate, sustained effort to raise awareness of an issue or issues; it is an ongoing process where support and understanding are built incrementally in order to change attitudes, policies or practices. The issue of literacy in contemporary society represents one of the key topics for an advocacy program. This case study explores the idea of a national reading campaign. Using the United Kingdom and Australia as examples, the critical success factors of a successful program are identified.

It’s a question of standards
This case study highlights the significant role that library associations can play in developing and fostering the use of library standards that can measure the quality of library programs and support their improvement. The Medical Library Association (MLA) uses its hospital library standards to advocate the value of libraries at the institutional level of the hospital, as well as at the sectoral level through agencies responsible for the formal accreditation of health services. A number of success stories are presented.

Making a difference
Library associations can play an important role in helping to raise professional standards and to help their members strive for excellence in practice. This case study profiles one teacher librarian who drew on professional standards to guide her own practice, to help her set the goals for the school library and to legitimise the work she performed. By collecting evidence about the quality of the collections and services, it was possible to establish benchmarks that demonstrated the value of the library to the school community, as well as to contribute to the further development of the professional documents.

Getting the message right
An advocacy campaign, whether addressing local issues or trying to shift attitudes and change behaviour nationally, will always require a good communications plan. Attention needs to be given to the messages to be conveyed, the communications tools that can be used, the messengers who will garner support, and the role to be played by the media. This case study builds on Case Study no 10, Factors in developing an advocacy role, to present the elements of a communications plan currently being developed for a national reading campaign in Australia. It also makes reference to communications strategies that were effective for a campaign run in the United Kingdom.

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

Ethical Behaviour (all modules)

The importance of our professional values
A marked characteristic of a professional association is the existence of a code of ethics or a code of conduct for its members. The code outlines the general principles of professional behaviour which should be followed by members of the association in order to act in a appropriately moral way and to avoid the risk of misconduct. Library clients, peers and society all anticipate a principled approach to the provision of information at all levels of service. This case study provides a brief overview of two ethical codes, developed by the Thai Library Association (TLA) and the Colegio de Bibliotecarios de Chile (CBC).

An ethical framework for professional practice
Freedom of access to information has long been regarded as one of the key values of librarianship. As modern political contexts can present the individual library and information professional with ethical challenges regarding access to information, the library association plays an important role in developing a collective position on professional values and articulating this through a code of ethics. The Canadian Library Association (CLA) Code of Ethics is presented as an example of a professional statement that reflects fundamental national and societal values.

Discuss topics from this module on the IFLA Online Learning Platform

LDP (Library Development Programme), Associations, Building Strong Library Associations

Last update: 8 August 2016