Academic Libraries and Toxic Leadership - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780081006375, 9780081006504

Academic Libraries and Toxic Leadership

1st Edition

Authors: Alma Ortega
eBook ISBN: 9780081006504
Paperback ISBN: 9780081006375
Imprint: Chandos Publishing
Published Date: 3rd February 2017
Page Count: 98
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Academic Libraries and Toxic Leadership examines a phenomenon that has yet to be seriously explored. While other so-called feminized professions, such as nursing, have been studied for their tendency to create toxic leadership environments, thus far academic librarianship has not.

This book focuses on how to identify a toxic leader in an academic library setting, how to address toxic leadership, and how to work toward eradicating it from the organization. In addition, it discusses which steps can be used to prevent libraries from hiring toxic leaders.

Key Features

  • Presents original research based on a two-phase study about toxic leadership in academic libraries
  • Demonstrates how to identify toxic leadership in libraries
  • Shows how toxic leadership can manifest itself, providing the reader with steps to eradicate it


Academic libraries and Library and Information Studies schools/programs

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why the Research on Academic Libraries and Toxic Leadership?

Organization of This Book


Chapter 1. What Is Leadership? What Is Toxic Leadership?


1.1 Defining Leadership

1.2 The Study of Leadership in Library and Information Studies (LIS)

1.3 Leadership in Academic Libraries

1.4 Defining Toxic Leadership

1.5 Identifying Toxic Leadership in the Literature

1.6 Toxic Leadership in Academic Libraries


Chapter 2. How to Acknowledge Toxic Leadership’s Presence


2.1 The Effects of Toxic Leadership

2.2 Effects on Academic Librarians

2.3 Effects on User Services

2.4 When is it not Toxic Leadership?


Chapter 3. What to Do About Toxic Leadership?


3.1 What to Do About the Situation at Your Library?

3.2 Documenting Incidents of Toxic Behavior

3.3 Building a Support Network

3.4 Who to Talk to About What Is Happening?

3.5 The Consequences of Inaction

3.6 Why Stay?

3.7 Who Benefits From Inaction?

3.8 Summary


Chapter 4. Regaining Control of the Library


4.1 The Toxic Leader Has Been Removed, Now What?

4.2 Mechanisms to Counter Toxic Leadership

4.3 The Need for Academic Libraries to Practice Self-Examination

4.4 Professional Library Associations Lack “People Training”

4.5 Maintaining a Nontoxic Leader Library

4.6 The Role Human Resources Should Be Playing

4.7 The Role of the Academic Institution’s Upper Administration

4.8 Summary


Chapter 5. Healing for the Organization Free of Toxic Leaders


5.1 Healing the Academic Library Free of Toxic Leaders

5.2 Healing for Academic Librarians

5.3 Minimizing Residual Toxicity in the Academic Library

5.4 Healing for Librarians Who Have Left

5.5 Summary


Chapter 6. Cases


6.1 Introduction

Case 1

  • Discussion Questions

Case 2

  • Discussion Questions

Case 3

  • Discussion Questions

Case 4

  • Discussion Questions


Appendix A. Survey Results

A.1 Demographics

A.2 Leadership and Toxic Leadership Items

Appendix B. Semi-Structured Interview Guide


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Chandos Publishing
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About the Author

Alma Ortega

Alma C. Ortega is a tenured librarian at the University of San Diego’s Helen K. and James S. Copley Library in San Diego, California. She has more than 12 years’ experience in academic libraries. She is a reference librarian and bibliographer for the areas of history, Spanish and Italian literatures as well as Asian Studies. She also teaches course-integrated sessions, works extensively with graduate students, and researches collection management, archives place in libraries, and leadership styles in academic libraries. She earned two bachelor’s degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies and Spanish from the University of California at Berkeley (1996) and two master’s degrees in Library and Information Studies (2002) and Latin American Studies (2003) from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a PhD Candidate in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. She has been working in libraries since 1998.

Affiliations and Expertise

Librarian, University of San Diego’s Helen K. and James S. Copley Library, San Diego, CA, USA


"Alma C. Ortega (University of San Diego) highlights the underreported phenomenon of poor leadership in academic. ...libraries that can infect an entire organization and demoralize library staff. She is to be applauded for starting this conversation, and librarians will benefit from reading the experiences of others as a lens to identify toxicity in their own current or past libraries and to become emboldened to do more than endure it silently." --Theological Librarianship, Vol. 10, No. 1

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