I have a particular interest in leadership and organizational strategy. In fact, my interest in these areas is what drove me to begin a MLS program within my first year in a paraprofessional position. I knew to do this type of work I would need the librarian’s credential and immediately embarked on earning it.
When I first entered the field, I knew there was a fair amount I would need to learn, so I actively sought out positions within ALA and my local association, NCLA. In addition to this, I sought out formal training programs.
I was sponsored by LITA to participate in the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders program. In this program I learned about how ALA functions and how to make things happen within the organization, I worked on a project for the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, and I worked with the president of LITA to help host the LITA Town Hall event.
I also participated in the North Carolina Library Association Leadership Institute. At this institute we focused on Touchpoint Analysis of our own libraries, heard from leaders from other industries, and worked in small groups with mentors from libraries around the state. I was honored to receive the “Tigger” award at this workshop, for leading the group of leaders.
Most recently I participated in the UCLA Senior Fellows program. The fellowship is the longest running executive leadership program for academic librarians. It is a competitive program held every two years. This program allowed me to get to know fifteen other senior leaders in librarianship from a diverse body of institutions, gain exposure to ideas and trends in librarianship, information studies, and higher education, and provided better context for my own work which enables me to serve my institution more effectively.
Beyond formal opportunities, I have attended local workshops and I read from relevant books, including the Personal MBA list.
Sharing Leadership Ideas with the Field
I believe strongly in sharing what I’ve learned as well, and have had a few times to share my perspectives on leadership. In “Leading the Blended Library: Two Blended Librarians Share Their Leadership Program Experience” I spoke with Liz Siecke for a Blended Librarian webcast on the programs listed above. I also incorporate leadership into many of my presentations on the future of librarianship or improving instruction.
The Library as Organization
I have a strong interest in how to develop libraries to be agile, responsive, and more experimental, and as such I have spent a lot of time learning about libraries as organization and how to help them adapt. My book, So You Want To Be A Librarian, in large part was an exercise in ensuring I had a comprehensive understanding of the field. I’ve heard from several practicing librarians that it was a useful and entertaining read to them because it helped them remember the big picture and mission of what we’re doing.
In my own organizations I have demonstrated an understanding of the larger view of what we were doing, and how to explain it to an external audience, in co-writing Wake Forest University’s application for the 2011 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries award. I have also chaired the committee that was charged with working with the entire library to draft a Values Statement that represented who we are and who we want to be.
In 2006-2007 I helped draft the library’s strategic plan as the only staff member on both strategic planning committees. In 2012, when the library had accomplished most of this plan, I was tapped to chair a refresh committee focused on instruction and academic technology, and we are currently drafting a strategic plan for these areas.
I have also helped design specific strategies, such as when I worked with our Web Services Librarian to design a strategic plan for social media for the library:
The University as Organization
Finally, in understanding organizational strategy, I realize it doesn’t stop with the library. The library’s work happens within a larger context, and in academic libraries, that context is the larger university. I have served on, and represented the library, for a number of university committees including the Teaching and Learning Center Board of Directors, Collaborative Technologies Team, Triad Interuniversity Project Planning Grant, Digital Humanities Initiative, Future Technologies Group, Electronic Portfolio Task Force, and the Gmail for Students Pilot Task Force.
Much of my work in academic technology has been related to other efforts on campus, so I have had to understand all the stakeholders in various projects and how to work with a wide variety of groups. That was extremely useful when I was appointed to the Strategic Planning Committee for Innovation in Technology and Instruction. This committee raised issues that were new to the WFU community, including online education, and I was able to advocate for a high priority for instructional design with any academic technology initiatives. I also contributed several sections to the final report.
Most recently, I taught Wake Forest University’s first entirely online undergraduate class. This required knowledge of content, pedagogy, and academic technology, but also how to navigate the larger university’s culture. I presented to groups of faculty about what I was doing, assessed in ways that would be useful to the larger community, had many one-on-one conversations with interested faculty (with either loved or didn’t love the idea), and gave a presentation to the College Board of Visitors:
This fall, the faculty voted to allow students to take some specially-approved online courses in their career at WFU.
In all of these university-wide opportunities, I work to represent the library’s interest, demonstrate our expertise in various areas of the university’s work, and broaden others’ understandings of exactly what a librarian does, or can do. This re-definition, I believe, is as important as the work we contribute in those efforts.
Updated September 29, 2014