PURPOSE: Academic libraries, in general and more specifically in Africa, are at varying stages of decline: they are gradually being dislodged as top “go-to” places. Through this article it is suggested that leaders of academic libraries turn to the private sector to learn strategies through which this decline can be stopped or even reversed. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The aim of this article is to facilitate that learning process by identifying and analysing the errors or mistakes committed by leaders of other organisations, especially those that were once regarded as successful. The literature that focuses on this phenomenon will be scanned with a view to learning more about once successful companies that failed. FINDINGS: Factors such as arrogance, complacency and denial have been identified as some of the factors that contributed towards their failure. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: The paper concludes with a discussion of this experience at the University of Pretoria and the strategies applied to prevent it from being marginalized. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: The value of this article lies in the identification and suggestion of a practical method that leaders of academic libraries can employ in preventing or reversing the decline of their libraries
Highly Commended Paper at the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2011.