Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to present the experiences of three western librarians in adapting their management styles for working and living in a new culture. Design/methodology/approach - Three university library directors who have been working as expatriates in Hong Kong for 2 to 18 years were asked to comment on their own personal experiences in moving to a new culture, a new language environment, and new management challenges. Findings - Moving to a new culture can be difficult for the expatriate and his family but work environments have many similarities. Developing an understanding of the local professional culture and working within is vital to success. Practical implications - The paper presents some guidelines for librarians who may be seeking a career abroad. Originality/value - There is very little literature on librarians, particularly those in management, who have chosen to continue their careers abroad. This paper provides first-hand experiences and demonstrates that librarianship shares a certain commonality and that management skills can be adapted to new cultures.