Leading transformational change: what I know now about disruptive innovation

Vicki McDonald, State Library of New South Wales

Concurrent session 22
Thursday 1 September 2016, 2:00pm - 2:25pm


Responding to a need to reduce its operating budget, in 2012 the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) embarked on a Review Program to capitalise on its investment in technology, and position itself to tackle future needs and challenges – particularly in the digital environment. This case study reports on the implementation of transformational change in the context of an organisation undergoing expansive change. In total there were 27 branch/functional reviews and the implementation of new enterprise systems.  This case study is the collection management function review, which is an example of disruptive innovation.

As a world-leading library the SLNSW is committed to the continuing development of its collection of international renown. Its objective is to document the development of Australia from the time New South Wales was substantially Australia and to create a collection that reflects the cultural heritage of New South Wales in both the Australian and international contexts.How the Library manages its collection management function is therefore critical to this objective.

The implementation of recommendations of the collection management function review has resulted in disruptive innovation. We have moved beyond traditional models and legacy thinking to imagine new ways of doing things. Together with changes to our organisational structure, we are rethinking our policies, strategies, systems and work processes.  

The scope of the collection management function review includes key collection management functions: selection, acquisition, arrangement and description, data quality, discovery, and asset management. The organisational structure has moved from the traditional “format” structure to one based on “function”.

A key learning has been that such extensive change is a "journey" and spans a number of financial years. The review commenced in 2013 and its implementation continues. Approximately 60 staff are directly engaged in the collection management function; everyone has a new role and is a member of a new organisational unit. Every work process needs to be reconsidered in the context of the new organisational framework. And, the implementation of a new library management system must deliver efficiencies.  Essentially, this disruptive environment provides the opportunity for re-thinking “the way we do things”. Keeping staff informed, engaged and motivated has been critical. The environment is complex and challenging – yet, it has the potential to deliver immense results for the organisation, staff and clients.

Success will be achieved when we have successfully anchored the changes in the organisational culture.The paper relates to the conference theme of leadership skills for a 21st century library. It will focus on the change management using evidence of approaches adopted, lessons learnt, and recommendations for the future.  

Paper - Not yet available.

Presentation - Now available.

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