Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Information Science and Technology


Michelle L. Kaarst-Brown


Grounded Theory, Library Innovation, Mindfulness, New Service Conception, Service Innovation

Subject Categories

Library and Information Science


The organizational ability to innovate is widely acknowledged as crucial to sustained success. For libraries and other service providers, innovation entails the continuous development of new services that propose value to customers. This new service development process can be understood as comprising a "front end," in which new service ideas are conceived and developed, and a "back end," in which selected ideas are implemented. Our understanding of the former - that is, of new service conception in libraries - is particularly underdeveloped.

To build a conceptual foundation for research in this area I used qualitative data collection techniques and constant-comparison analysis within the framework of a comparative, embedded case study. Fourteen new service ideas conceived by three case organizations - two public library systems and one library consortium - served as the units of analysis. The model that emerged from the data - a "Temporal Model of Mindful Interactions Around New Service Conception" - depicts library administrators as active producers of new service concepts. More specifically, the model posits that the innovative library administrator continuously identifies new customer needs and new external solutions through seven types of mindful interactions. At the same time, she tries to match unmet customer needs with potential external solutions in order to produce a new service concept that is ready for implementation.

The model extends the concept of individual mindfulness as developed by Weick and Sutcliffe (2006) and Weick and Putnam (2006). In short, it proposes that an individual can concurrently maintain two modes of mindfulness - cognitive-flow mindfulness and content mindfulness - in order to facilitate knowledge creation in the form of a new service concept. More specifically, one can be mindful during an interaction of its potential for engendering novel content (cognitive-flow mindfulness) while keeping in mind certain organizationally-influenced content (content mindfulness). The individual who can concurrently maintain both modes of mindfulness is better able to make novel associations between new information and the content about which she is mindful (e.g., the library's mission and major goals, unmet customer needs, potential external solutions).

While the data behind the model suggest that mindfulness can be maintained by admini-strators in smaller, more resource-challenged libraries, and in libraries with non-consolidated organizational structures, the data also reveal that the new service concepts produced by these administrators were yielded only after an external funding source was obtained. For these libraries, developing and delivering new services without grant monies, or without a mechanism within the service for generating revenue, may not be feasible. This does not mean that the administrators of these libraries should stop trying to innovate, or should stop being mindful of new service possibilities, but rather that (1) they must be mindful, perhaps to a greater degree than their counterparts at better-funded libraries, of an interaction's potential for engendering an external funding source, and (2) they may not be able to devote as much time to identifying new customer needs and potential external solutions. Instead, they may need to devote much of their time to addressing ongoing financial challenges.


Open Access