Still a Deadly Disease? Performance Appraisal Systems in Academic Libraries in the United States

Glenn Ellen Starr Stilling, Allison S. Byrd, Emily Rose Mazza, Shawn M. Bergman


Performance appraisal of professional librarians in academic libraries is important because of the critical role these employees play. Professional librarians ensure that the library’s resources and services are effective, relevant, and integrated within the parent institution. Performance appraisal and job feedback have been understudied in the library literature while, by comparison, these topics have generated great attention in other fields and in the corporate world. There have also been innovations in performance appraisal. Some large corporations have abandoned annual evaluations, substituting, for instance, quarterly performance snapshots and weekly check-ins with the supervisor. To investigate the current status of performance appraisal in academic libraries, we deployed a web-based survey in November 2013 to library directors in the United States. A national survey on this topic and with this population had not been conducted for 25 years. The results we report in this article relate to the following research objectives: The Snapshot research objective sought to identify the components of the performance appraisal systems currently being used. The Feedback research objective sought to identify who can give feedback during each performance appraisal event, the extent of peer-to-peer feedback, and whether there is sufficient feedback in library performance appraisal systems. We also report on programmatic effectiveness for libraries’ annual evaluations as well as their overall performance appraisal system.

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Copyright Glenn Ellen Starr Stilling, Allison S. Byrd, Emily Rose Mazza, Shawn M. Bergman

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