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Mid-Career Library Leadership Training (2006)

Mid-Career Library Leadership Training (2006)

Invitation for Comments on Mid-Career Library Leadership Training (2006)On November 6, 2006, CLIR convened a meeting of leaders of mid-career library leadership training programs to discuss existing programs, identify outstanding needs, and how those needs could be met either by incorporating them into existing programs, establishing new programs, and/or incorporating changes into library schools and/or continuing education. A summary of the discussion appears below. CLIR welcomes your comments on any portion of the summary. We are especially interested in hearing your views on the following: [Please respond to]

  • What would you include in a road map for librarians aspiring to leadership positions?
  • Are there any existing documents or frameworks that you can reference for us?
  • The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries has produced a guide for hiring medical librarians. Are there other guides available for academic librarians? Public librarians? Other kinds of librarians?
  • Are there existing programs for information professionals who are beginning their careers?
  • The following programs were represented at the meeting. CLIR would like to know about any other programs for mid-career library leaders.

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Research Libraries Leadership Fellows (RLLF) Program

The Frye Leadership Institute

Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration

ACRL/Harvard Leadership Institute

Summer Institute for Academic Library Leadership at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Professional Institutes

SOLINET Library Network

Senior Fellows Program at UCLA

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Meeting Summary

General Leadership Needs

The consensus was that there is a plethora of programs producing good leaders, yet there is still a general outcry for leadership because the programs are not producing a large enough pool. And the shortage is only increasing as more top-level and middle managers retire in greater numbers. With the information landscape changing and libraries needing to operate in new ways, how should library leaders of the future be trained?

  • 21st Century Vision
    There is a need to train information professionals who have broad vision and can lead LC and other institutions into the 21st century. The world is changing and few people know anything about digital libraries. Successful candidates are those who can articulate a vision for the future, but how do we help them make that transition?
  • Road Map/Framework
    There is no road map or framework to help guide young librarians from the time they enter the profession to the time they take leadership positions-a cradle to grave road map. Most librarians end up with episodic training that may or may not help. We need a set of core principals, but the road map should not be too prescriptive and needs to allow for latitude and personalization or else good potential leaders will be lost. A self-assessment would be useful to help people decide whether or not they have the interest and/or potential for leadership. What is the motivation for an individual to become a leader and how do we help promote that, particularly in an age where fundraising, dealing with unions, and other more mundane tasks are increasingly part of the job?
  • Certification Gap
    How do we know when someone has the right set of skills to be a library leader? There is a certification gap that needs addressing. How do you assess leadership potential? What skill sets do library administrators/search committees/search firms and university leaders who hire library leaders look for and how do they identify those skills? Guidance is needed to help make good hires because the field offers none. The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries produced a guide for the hiring of medical librarians that could be instructive in crafting a document for other kinds of librarians ( Brian Hawkins has written an article for EDUCAUSE about hiring CIOs “The Myth about CIOs” (
  • Incentives
    What incentives do organizations have for investing in library leaders? The cost/benefit analysis needs to be made more explicit. Currently, there are no consistent, deliberate investments made by universities and other organizations in training library leaders of the future because presidents, provosts, and other leaders do not see the incentives. We need to give institutions reasons to invest in library leaders.

Program and Library School Curricula

There is no career path for information technology professionals-no equivalent to the MLS. Programs like Frye and other management institutes are about leadership and not about libraries, IT, or the skill sets necessary to work in the information profession. These programs focus on opening horizons and helping information professionals understand what the provost and other academic leaders do in order to promote more community collaboration. Existing programs and institutes are helpful, but they do not allow for follow-through, so there is a need for a whole other level.

The consistent message of these programs is that leaders are made, not born, and that painfully few actually teach leadership management. At Harvard, they use the Bowman Deal Reframing Organization approach. Training involves teaching a context specific approach to problems and not emphasizing the right answer.

There is an overwhelming need to identify middle managers who have the potential to be aspiring leaders. What are the particular environments or settings that will help them advance? SOLINET is providing mentor training at historically black colleges. It is important that library schools teach leadership as well as followership.

Need for Collaboration to Address Leadership Shortage

The overall leadership crisis within the information profession is more severe than simply losing the top layer to retirement. Middle managers are also retiring, and the field is not training professionals quickly enough to replace both the upper and middle strata. There is a need for a more collaborative approach that includes library schools, libraries, regional networks, associations, and professional organizations across the information spectrum to build sustainability. CLIR could work across these institutions to help them reconceive how the leaders of the future should be trained.

Collaboration with other disciplines is also key-management, business, computer science, and others. At the same time, skills are the underpinning for all transformational leadership, so some organizations need to play a “connective tissue” role in bridging the need for breadth while addressing specific skill sets.

CLIR could help reconceptualize the meaning of information services by holding national discussions of what those services should look like in the future. Librarians need to think in fundamentally different ways. Because of financial challenges, small community colleges have had to think in new ways, so CLIR could look to them, among others, for ideas.

Specific Unmet Needs

Crash course for new library directors that covers practical information, including budgeting, fundraising, dealing with unions.

Executive coaching.

More networking opportunities, particularly with top university officials.

Clearinghouse apprising librarians of available mid-career programs/opportunities.

More team-based institutions.

Evaluations, assessments, surveys of different programs. Ask graduates of programs what is helpful, what is needed. Examine what kinds of people go into programs and what kind emerge.

Identify group of successful library leaders and ask each one what influences helped them in developing their careers (mentoring, developmental influences, programs, continuing education).

Training and support for those entering the profession.

Seminars taught by middle managers for junior librarians with leadership potential within their libraries.

Source library of case studies for information science core curriculum. Harvard offers a case study catalog for higher education and ECAR (Educause Center for Applied Research) also offers some case studies

Landscape analysis that includes financial models, assessments, scope of coverage.

Help imagining different ways of doing things (sustaining the old vs. building the new). Ask university presidents, provosts, and other university leaders what their expectations are for information services.

Help existing programs with organizational transformation so they can implement appropriate changes.

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