Library Leadership Ohio (formerly Library Leadership 2000) is approaching its ten-year mark with the 2002 Institute. Since the first Institute in 1993, LLO has educated four classes of 30 participants each, creating a deep pool of talent in which Ohio libraries look for leaders. From the beginnning, John Shannon and Becky Schreiber have facilitated the effort of guiding the classes toward a keen awareness of self, others, and their environment, helping each participant become a thoughtful and adaptable leader. Below, Shannon and Schreiber share their reflections on the innovative structure and spirit of Library Leadership and its viability in the next decade.
What challenges face the class of 2002?
S&S: The opportunities present the challenges!
An obvious opportunity comes from the explosion of information and its technology, allowing librarians to claim their rightful place as skilled navigators of that information maze. Library leaders must embrace a marketing approach to their potential customers so services are widely known. Libraries have a distribution network that would be the envy of commercial companies. There is a library in almost every tiny community across our country, and in much of the world. Technology has mushroomed the capacity for those libraries to interact. Library leaders must use their vast "connectivity" - in the technological and non-technological sense - to find ways of improving services, sharing resources, and meeting the increasing expectations of their customers. Each library cannot "be all things to all people" but together, libraries can have "something for everyone." Together, you can meet those customer expectations.
Another increasingly obvious opportunity is that there is plenty of room to step into leadership roles. The baby boomers are beginning to leave spaces for others to fill. As more of them move on, the vacancies at every level will continue to increase, providing movement for those who are willing to accept the challenge of leadership. This should fit nicely into the following generation's proclivity toward multiple job functions and even careers. Library leaders must prepare themselves with the skills they will need to step into vacated positions.
The challenge is getting ready for leadership now.
In what way has the Institute evolved to meet the new challenges facing library leaders?
S&S: To prepare library leaders at the Institute, we continue to focus on the core issues of leadership:
·self awareness (how to use strengths and weaknesses)
·environmental and customer responsiveness (anticipating needs)
·clear vision (created and shared by all)
·building relationships for influence and resource sharing
·a bias toward action
The stories change, but the focus of the Institute stays pretty much on track. The design allows for introduction of new perspectives; and updating occurs as each new group arrives with their new set of leadership challenges. That provides the context for our work together.
What images stand out from past LL Institutes?
S&S: ·Millie's (Fry) vision and hard work to create the Institute; her acceptance of the cash gift from the first Institutes' alums; which she turned into a scholarship fund for future attendees;
·Mike's (Snyder) commitment to make the Institute happen soon after his appointment to CAMLS;
·Terri's (Pasadyn) skillful work with alums who do selections for the Institutes; her diplomacy and attention to the details which make the Institute run seamlessly;
·The mentors' generous contribution of time and "real world" wisdom;
·The participants' willingness to engage the process - to confront themselves and each other with life-building awareness; and then to go out and use what they learned to take on amazing leadership roles. We are always impressed as we hear about their successes.