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In 2019, the Medical Library Association (MLA) adopted a new model of community governance and participation, referred to as the MLA Communities Transition. The Communities Transition was the culmination of long-ranging plans by MLA to support two of its strategic goals: Diversity and Inclusion, and Communities. The reorganization aimed to strengthen MLA member communities, better support programming, reduce administrative overhead, and attract new members. The 2019 - 2020 MLA Rising Stars cohort was tasked to study the Communities Transition and identify lessons that might be applicable to any major future change proposed for the organization.

A qualitative study was designed and conducted to investigate MLA member and leader perceptions of the change process, using John Kotter’s Eight Steps for Organizational Change model as a framework. A set of fifteen open-ended questions was developed based on Kotter’s model and seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather perceptions and feedback. Interview transcripts were analyzed using a grounded theory approach to explore and identify several themes across all discussions.

Four major themes were identified: communication between leadership and membership, leadership during the change process, membership investment in change, and instituting change and future recommendations. The study revealed strengths in the overall implementation and execution of the transition, but also highlighted several perceived issues with communication and information-sharing.

Study findings were used to develop recommendations for improved communication strategies and for handling large scale changes within the organization in the future.


Organizational change; Change management; Library association management; Qualitative data; Qualitative research


Library and Information Science

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78 KB




  • Summary of Themes.csv – Colored rows in Column A represent individual codes grouped for similarity, while gray rows are individual codes from the transcripts. Column B are totals of the number of times each code appeared in the analyzed transcripts. Sheets are arranged by major theme.
  • Transcripts are not included in the data in order to maintain anonymity of research participants. The low number and selection process for participants makes it likely that a series of quotes from one individual, even if their name were redacted, could lead to their identification.


  • Interviews took place from November 2019 – January 2020
  • Analysis took place February – April 2020