Library Staff are More Motivated to Engage in Professional Development When Encouraged by Library Leadership


  • Hilary Bussell The Ohio State University



A Review of:

Johannessen, H. T. D. (2018). The need to grow, learn and develop – how does management affect motivation for professional development? LIBER Quarterly, 28(1), 1–16.


Objective – This study explores whether there is a correlation between academic library leaders’ support for professional development and their employees’ professional self-esteem and motivation to participate in professional development.

Design – Survey questionnaire.

Setting – Academic libraries in Norway.

Subjects – 1,637 full time equivalent (FTE) staff.

Methods – The theoretical framework for this study is knowledge management. The author defines this as “The creation and subsequent management of an environment which encourages knowledge to be created, shared, learnt, enhanced, and organized for the benefit of the organization and its customers” (Sarrafzadeh, Martin, & Hazeri, 2006, p. 624, quoted on p. 3). An anonymous quantitative survey was made available to staff working in Norwegian academic libraries. The survey included questions about to what extent their leader encourages them to attend conferences, to what extent their leader understands their skills and competencies, personal belief in their own skills and competencies to perform their work tasks, and number of professional development activities they attended in 2015 (including conferences, continuing education seminars, and interdepartmental seminars).

Main Results – 626 survey responses were collected, for a 38% response rate. The responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Over 50% of all survey respondents reported high satisfaction with their professional skills and competencies. There is a difference when broken down by gender, with 77% of men reporting confidence in their professional skills versus 63% of women. Education level, on the other hand, does not make a difference. The study found a correlation between perception by library staff that their library leader has a “good overview” of their professional skills and staff members’ confidence in their ability to perform their job well. Library staff with leaders who encouraged professional development were more likely to participate in external professional development activities. Participation in internal professional development activities was not affected by library leaders’ encouragement.

Conclusion – When library staff are encouraged by library leadership to participate in professional development, they are more likely to do so. Library staff who perceive that their library’s leaders recognize and value their professional skills and competencies have a higher sense of professional self-esteem. Library leaders can use knowledge management to come to a better understanding of the knowledge and skills their staff members already possess, and to encourage communities of practice and the sharing of knowledge in the organization. This recognition can result in employees who are happier and more motivated to learn.


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How to Cite

Bussell, H. (2019). Library Staff are More Motivated to Engage in Professional Development When Encouraged by Library Leadership. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 14(1), 59–61.



Evidence Summaries