Developing Library Leaders and Leadership Skills (Part 1 of 3)

We don’t have to look very far to see that leadership is an issue which is much discussed and often promoted within libraries and the communities they serve—possibly because so many of us sense a leadership void in so many of the organizations and political entities we encounter.
The great news here in California is that positive, vibrant, creative initiatives are underway. Infopeople is currently repeating its very successful Eureka! Leadership Program, which includes a series of workshops, a week-long leadership institute, and other events designed to provide inspiration and experience to current and prospective library leaders. Participants such as San Diego County Library Training and Web Services Manager Polly Cipparrone, who attended the initial round of workshops and then attended the institute, are now working on their final projects designed to help them develop their overall leadership skills while making major contributions to the libraries for which they work.
There are also fine examples of library leaders cultivating leadership qualities among their staff: San Francisco Public Library City Librarian Luis Herrera currently has a four-month leadership academy running at the Library and has brought in training consultant Maureen Sullivan, who taught one of the initial Eureka! workshops, to oversee the project; Anne Cain (County Librarian, Contra Costa County Library system) also stands out as an example of a library leader inspiring leadership skills in her staff through her extremely strong commitment to training—something which appears to extend through the entire system and which begins with a month-long new staff orientation program designed to give every employee the best possible start at the beginning of their employment within the system.
If we move a little beyond the physical and virtual settings of libraries, we find tremendous resources from writers including Peter Block, whose Flawless Consulting reminds us that leaders work within organizations as internal consultants and outside of organizations in the more commonly recognized role of external consultant. We also find eminently readable material in a variety of sources including Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner’s The Leadership Challenge and Warren Bennis’s On Becoming a Leader—wonderful because they tell stories in the words of other leaders rather than remaining mired solely in the world of theory.
Many of the Infopeople “Building Leadership Skills” workshop materials remain accessible in the Infopeople past training materials archives. Infoblog articles on the workshops provide additional information. And registration for “Building Leadership Skills” workshops scheduled through mid-2009 is continuing on the Infopeople site.
Next: Polly Cipparrone and an Update on Her Eureka! Leadership Project

2 thoughts on “Developing Library Leaders and Leadership Skills (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Don’t forget PLN, the PALINET Leadership Network–it’s not just for PALINET, it’s free, it’s growing, and it already offers a large set of resources on various aspects of library leadership and management. Some of those resources are unique to PLN; many are original syntheses of existing library or management literature.
    You’ll find it at

  2. Thanks for the wonderful addition, Walt. I’m completely fascinated by how many great resources there are and how willing colleagues seem, at this point, to take advantage of the opportunities to share them and to seek productive collaborations. Let’s hope others jump in here and keep this growing.

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