Collaboration in White Spaces: Librarians as Leaders in Evidence-Based Practice at CAM Institutions

Janet Tapper, Richard J. Severson, Noelle Stello, Della Shupe


White Spaces were first described by organizational change expert Gary Rummler in the 1960’s to describe zones where meaningful action takes place outside of the normal chains of command dictated by organizational charts. This paper identifies key concepts for leadership in the white spaces as relationality, unanticipated organizational intention, intention to change and mutual purpose. Librarians serving nine Complementary and Alternative Medicine programs found themselves using white space leadership tactics to promote information literacy and evidence-based practice skills in the wake of receiving R25 grants from the National Institutes of Health. Their training as librarians paralleled the unique skills required for white space leadership and allowed them to create new opportunities for library integration into the curricula and programs of their institutions. Three case studies highlight the challenges of curriculum and cultural change at these schools and the synchronous opportunity for library involvement in those shifts.


organizational development; white spaces; leadership, CAM, complementary and alternative medicine; evidence-based practice; curriculum; EBP

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American library Association Texas Digital Library