Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of using Kotter's eight-step model for change leadership to create a culture of assessment that is embedded in the organizational culture of an academic library. Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper that examines the potential application of a business change model to an academic library change context. Each step of Kotter's model is described within the context of building a culture of assessment, supported by examples and suggestions from the literature of libraries, higher education, organizational behavior and change leadership. Findings – While building a culture of assessment is critical for libraries in the current environment, it is a difficult and complex process that requires grassroots initiative, top-down support and strong leadership. Kotter's model for change management provides a pragmatic structure for culture change through behavioral change and change leadership regardless of positional authority. Practical implications – This paper includes best practices for facilitating a culture of assessment, including necessary resources and possible approaches.