It took me decades TRULY to understand the qualities that make for great leadership. I am still surprised at how slowly I realized that the key strengths of great leaders are not command, control, or management skills. A great leader must have the ability to spot and hire excellent people; build a passionate, committed team; liberate everyone on that team; and then trust them with the autonomy and authority to make decisions, innovate, and test their inspirations and ideas in practice.
The campaign to elect the 2015-2016 President of the American Library Association (ALA) ends this month. To help inform ALA members who haven’t yet voted, and to give other librarians some additional insight into key issues currently on the ALA agenda, LJ asked each of the candidates to respond to five questions. The candidates, Maggie Farrell, dean of libraries at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, Ohio, responded. (Full biographies of both candidates are available on the ALA Election Guide.)
The Wichita Public Library (WPL), KS, has become a coalition builder for larger community goals. WPL signed on as an early “vision partner” with Visioneering Wichita, whose goal is to develop a strategic plan, through extensive community engagement, for the whole Wichita metropolitan area. Over the decades, WPL had established a growing engagement with the city’s residents. The Visioneering Wichita process gave that long-standing community engagement specific goals and direction. This reenergized engagement won for Wichita and its library the 2014 LibraryAware Community Award.
Despite what appeared to be high registration for the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Philadelphia this January, we heard low rumblings of discontent. These comments were usually voiced late in the night at the parties and barroom gatherings. Much said at such gatherings never moves into the formal deliberations of ALA legislation. That is too bad. Some of it deserves attention and might even help ALA remain as strong as it is today.
For public librarians , two years is really too long to wait for the professional recharging, updates, and new ideas that a Public Library Association (PLA) conference delivers. So, as usual, expectations are high for attendance at the 2014 PLA meeting, which takes place in Indianapolis, March 11–15.
It took me a FEW years in a public library to acknowledge that I had entered a career and wasn’t just doing a job. It was a long time ago. I had finished college with an AB and what we called a “gut” major in history. I applied for and won a job in the small Reading Public Library, MA. Despite my lack of credentials, I was given the title of Youth/Reference Librarian. Relieved to be employed, I started to learn what a public library does, or did in those predigital times.
“Lots of libraries are there for the community, but here in Bayfield, the community built the library,” says Amy Dodson, director of the Pine River Library (PRL), CO, selected as LJ’s Best Small Library in America, 2014, cosponsored by Library Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and recipient of the award’s accompanying $20,000 prize. Hired by the PRL trustees in May 2013, Dodson was awed by not only the support for PRL in the very diverse Bayfield community but also the community’s willingness to donate hours of volunteer work as well as lots of important gifts in kind and then vote the funds to pay for a strong staff and an experienced and innovative director.
We knew Corinne Hill was destined to be a star back in 2004, when she was named an LJ Mover & Shaker. She had been a librarian for only eight years. A decade later, as executive director of the Chattanooga Public Library (CPL), she is the 2014 LJ Librarian of the Year, an award sponsored by Baker & Taylor. Hill’s career has climaxed in Chattanooga, where she has transformed what consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent called the “ugly, irrelevant, and mismanaged” public libraries of Hamilton County, TN, into the new and vibrant CPL. “She has fostered a culture of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library,” says an August report in the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), 50 percent of those attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia will be top managers in libraries; 92 percent will have “buying influence” for products or services exhibited; and 62 percent will find new companies with which to do business during their time in the exhibits. The pitch emphasizes that the Midwinter Meeting has been redesigned to include programs and special events to “become the place where librarians from across the country discuss and explore the future of libraries and librarianship.” More than 8,000 librarians are expected in the City of Brotherly Love, and according to ALA’s message to exhibitors, “These are the decision makers you need to meet!”