Leadership. Libraries.

Thanks to the Independent Ideas blog written by AISL member Ellen Back last fall, four AISL-ers were inspired to attend Library Leadership in the Digital Age at Harvard University last March.  Despite the cold weather and the seemingly endless assigned reading, we gathered mid-March for three days of intensive study and discussion of libraries, librarianship, and leadership in our evolving communities and this fast paced digital age.

In the workshop we examined what librarianship was, what it is becoming, and how we, as leaders in our field, can influence the direction our libraries take and drive our libraries to meet the needs of the people we currently serve and want to serve.  There is nothing like sitting in a room of librarians who work in schools, universities, and public libraries, to share concerns, philosophies of the profession, and ideas for moving forward.  It was what I might call a library heaven of sorts, expertly lead by professional educators from Harvard, Jim Neal, President of ALA, the revered Carla Hayden, Librarian of CongressDavid Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and many other leaders in the field.  In describing the experience, Mr. Ferriero may have put it best when he called our time together an “intellectual spa.”

I’ve been reading and rereading my notes from the three days of presentations and discussions and gathered some take aways to share.  More important than my list of fairly practical ideas, was the assurance that my gut instinct of how we need to move swiftly to meet the needs of our ever-changing school communities is on target.  The Library Leadership workshop gave me permission to move forward with things that I’ve been thinking about and that my department has been talking about.

  • As library leaders it is easy to get caught up in the day to day business of our schools. We also need to take time to reflect and get to know ourselves as librarians and as leaders.
  • Libraries are: people, place, holdings, and platform.
  • Be AGILE in our use of space, transporting our practice into the classroom, and being active and visible in the community.
  • How can we, the librarians, define who we are rather than allowing the community to ‘know’ us with preconceived stereotypes?
  • We need to work with what we have now while simultaneously developing and creating our future libraries.

Colleagues, what are your big picture questions and ideas?


ps.  Oh, and this: one of my favorite moments ever, ever in my life, meeting Carla Hayden.

If you have the opportunity to attend Library Leadership in the Digital Age, you will not be disappointed.  It was an amazing experience.

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2 Responses to Leadership. Libraries.

  1. Jennifer Falvey says:

    What a great opportunity! I will be on the lookout for a chance to experience this amazing conference.
    Several of your thoughts really resonated with me. I couldn’t agree more that it is so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the day to day and leave out time to reflect–both as professionals and as people. And AGILITY–what an apt word for fully engaging with our communities on- and off-campus.
    Finally, I most strongly connected with your idea of working with what we have now, while simultaneously envisioning and creating our “future libraries.”
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  2. David Wee says:

    1) As I take a quick break from attempting to discern why databases from two of our vendors simply refuse to authenticate via EZProxy, I want to say I LOVE, “How can we, the librarians, define who we are rather than allowing the community to ‘know’ us with preconceived stereotypes?” and “We need to work with what we have now while simultaneously developing and creating our future libraries.”

    2) I totally want to Photoshop myself into your picture with Dr. Hayden!

    Thanks for a great post!

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