This is a summary of the interview with Ms Anya Feltreuter, Library Director, Mjölby Sweden. Chair of the Management & Marketing Standing Committee 2019-2023.
In February 2022, the IFLA Management & Marketing Section organized a webinar “Oh, The Places You’ll Go: Library Managers around the World”.
The webinar shared interviews with library managers from around the world. Each interview was focused around four themes: unique challenges, recommended skills for emerging managers, skills they are developing, and motivations.
My name is Anya Feltreuter, and I am the library director of Mjölby Public Library in Sweden. I have worked in Mjölby for six years, but I have 11 years of experience as a library director. The Mjölby library consists of one main library, three branch libraries, and a staff of 15.
What are some of the unique challenges that you face in managing your library?
I wouldn’t say that the challenges I face are unique. All libraries are different and have different needs. Upon reflection, I see five main aspects of being a leader.
First, a leader should inspire their co-workers. Second, you may need to be the one pushing them a bit further, every day. Third, you also must make them comfortable enough to come up with new working methods and new ideas. Four, you may also have to gather them back when they are too far from the mission. And finally, you will most likely be the one who makes difficult decisions when needed.
What skills, would you encourage emerging managers or emerging directors to develop to be successful?
Leadership is a lot about using yourself as a tool to create results. Consequently, you must know yourself pretty well. You need to know your strengths, but also your weaknesses. And you must be very humble, but not too soft.
I would say that the first thing you have to do is to get to know your co-workers. Who are they? What is their passion? How can they contribute? Where are they now and where do you want them to go? When you have the answer to those questions, you can help your co-workers to keep pushing the limits and gradually become more confident.
It is also crucial to create a work environment that allows staff to fail. An environment that also encourages knowledge sharing between colleagues. This is important because as a leader you can’t always be in control, you can’t have all the answers, and you shouldn’t! But what you can do is build a team that finds the answers together – a team that doesn’t wait for your solutions but strives together forward.
What management skills are you currently developing or learning?
Oh, I’m constantly learning new things. A fun thing with management is that the team is constantly changing. For example, people come, and they leave. When you get new people on your staff, there is always something new happening. These new situations that you must handle can be good or bad. But the constant is there’s always something happening!
What motivates you as a manager or director?
I work at the library because I strongly believe that everyone should be able to access information and knowledge. Through access, our users are able to participate in the democratic society or change their lives through education and knowledge.
As a manager, I like to see my co-workers grow and change with the different tasks that they are given. Or with the ideas and projects they come up with themselves! And if they need a little push to do more than they expect from themselves I can be that person to push them. A little bit every day.