Polly Cipparrone: Eureka!, Master Trainers, and the Development of Leaders

If leadership is about taking advantage of opportunities, San Diego County Library Training and Web Services Manager Polly Cipparrone should be at the head of the pack.
Polly was part of Infopeople’s Master Trainer group when it first met for a weeklong intensive series of workshops in Southern California in 2002—the sessions were later offered as four one-day workshops throughout California— and she was back in residence earlier this year for Infopeople’s weeklong “Eureka! Leadership Program Institute” in San Diego.
“The (Eureka!) program has given me a whole new perspective on approaching things,” she said during a recent conversation. “I’m really glad that I’m participating.”
Eureka!, a joint project between the California State Library and Infopeople, begins with a one-day workshop on the theme of “Exploring Library Leadership,” then continues with a series of nine one-day open registration workshops over a nine-month period. Participants in those workshops are encouraged to apply for the multi-day residential institute, and those completing the residency then return to their libraries to design and implement a project which displays leadership at its best.
The entire process parallels the experiences leaders have on the job, Polly notes, and relies on participants’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances: “I’ve had to reformulate my project,” she noted, and she is currently in the process of deciding what she will do for the San Diego County Library through her Eureka! project. “The scale was much more ambitious than a person can do in a year, so I’ve had to reshape everything, rethink what we’re doing.”
Having attended almost all of the original workshops, she plans to talk to colleagues throughout the San Diego County Library system to tell them “what I’ve learned, why I think it’s a valuable opportunity, and why I think it would be great to have some of our staff apply for the competitive portion as well as attend the classes.”
The result, she predicts, is that more of them will “learn to think more like a manager, more like a leader.”
N.B.: Registration for new offerings of the workshops is currently underway on the Infopeople website under the heading “Building Leadership Skills,” and a series discount is available. Instructors include Steve Albrecht; Stacey Aldrich; Joan Frye Williams and George Needham; Gail Griffith; Suzanne Merritt; Marie Radford; Andrew Sanderbeck; Paula Singer; and Pat Wagner.