Developing Library Leaders of the Future – Barbara Schultz-Jones, Kendra Albright

This blog post is part of a series of posts from the ninth Knowledge Café, held during the 87th IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Dublin, Ireland, July 26-29, 2022. 

The session was co-sponsored by the Knowledge Management Section and the Continuous Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section and was co-chaired by Monica Ertel and Maggie Farrell.

Several Standing Committee Members of Management & Marketing were involved as facilitators or rapporteurs.

Many of the discussions are connected to management and management skills, why we have decided to publish the content also in this blog.

You find all of the content at:

Developing Library Leaders of the Future

Facilitator:  Barbara Schultz-Jones  Professor, University of North Texas  UNITED STATES

Rapporteur:  Kendra Albright  Goodyear Endowed Professor in Knowledge Management, Kent State University UNITED STATES 

How can we identify the leaders of the future?

  • Change is a keyword – ready to change and crisis is another key word and together they are powerful
  • Change can be perceived as a threat so working with people
  • Opportunity – anyone can be a leader but without the opportunity you can’t get there
  • Knowledge interest
  • Society knowledge and that’s important to know
  • Innovative with the skill sets
  • Good lobby worker to work with the politicians/administrators
  • Profession needs to be outward facing
  • Forward looking in attitude and outlook
  • Build partnerships and networking
  • Taking care of persons working with you and making sure they are ok
  • Tapping into the ideas of other people and turning them into leaders – listening is very important

What strategies can be used to develop leaders for the future?

  • Making sure that for every position you have a succession plan
  • Prepare people to succeed
  • Identifying the next set of potential leaders and make sure they have mentors
  • Mentorship:
    • mentorship is a strategic focus, and the dividends can be seen immediately
    • formal mentorship program that recognizes diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • mentorship for outward facing
  • Formal and informal assessment to check on support and make sure the mentorship system or leadership system is working
  • Networking between leaders to share knowledge and support
  • Allowing people to manage a project – delegate and let them make mistakes and learn from them
  • Encouraging people to lead
  • Developing a formal network of librarians from various areas and across languages
  • Need public relations so people know about your strategies
  • Professional development programs within professional associations
  • Sharing activities and competencies across associations to raise understanding and knowledge
  • Support system that includes individual and joint meetings to make sure that the relationships are working
  • Trust in workers and build confidence and trust

What are the characteristics of future ready librarians? 

  • Solicit a statement of your personal vision and accomplishments
  • Passion for your profession that is inspiring
  • Formal ways of identifying future leaders – passion, vision, accomplishment
  • What have you done in the past and what is your vision for the future?
  • able to demonstrate your skills and competencies
  • People are ready/willing to follow
  • Encouraged to interact with a wide range of committees, people and experiences “outside in the world
  • Help every employee take responsibility for their own work and be their own leader.
  • Eagerness to learn, flexibility
  • Organized
  • Someone who really wants to embrace change
  • Ready to help your colleagues – you are there for them and know their scope of work
  • Have boundaries in terms of what to share and what not to share
  • Integrity – when you speak you are consistent, and know each of your staff to know how to motivate and reward them
  • Generosity – how do we want to impact the community, emotional counselling for staff if needed
  • Must have a vision, where are they going
  • Want to teach your skills
  • Reluctant but capable and firm
  • Believe in yourself and your vision and be willing to be creative to make it happen and motivate other
  • Personal commitment
  • Make it happen despite all odds

Do LIS programs prepare you to be leaders?

  • No, did not prepare me formally – learning in libraries and with mentors prepared me
  • We did take some useful classes for knowing more about management, but we are needing more to learn about experiences – need to find other sessions/online sessions and this is a major challenge once you are on the job
  • Librarian is a state of mind and actual programs and services not learned in library school but if you are curious, open minded, and willing to connect with other colleagues then you can be successful
  • PhD in political science so parliamentary library as a result and skills learned on the job and librarianship is about information services
  • Doesn’t matter what you learned in school, leadership is learned and encouraged on the job
  • Library school is good for the fundamentals but does not teach about leadership, that happens on the job and if you get the exposure and the opportunities then it’s an individual’s choice to offer their service as a leader
  • We need to step up about the needs of the user
  • At the end of the day, it’s about you as a person and whether you can/want to lead
  • Wish there was a management course that would help you understand what good and bad management is to help identify the toxic environments and how to respond

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