April 19, 2018

Libraries Need Leaders At Every Level | Lead The Change

Lois Langer Thompson, Director, Hennepin County Library

Lois Langer Thompson, Director, Hennepin County Library

Hennepin County Library is a national leader of library service, innovation and excellence. In that spirit, we were proud to host “Lead the Change! Minnesota” on August 21 at Ridgedale Library in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Staff from across HCL and other systems had a unique opportunity to engage with library directors from the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. Leaders at every level got something out of the daylong program.

For me, the day’s discussion reconfirmed that everyone leads, and that, as libraries, we are at our collective best when we take time to improve our leadership skills.

It is critical that we continue to invest in staff training and development, even in an era when every dollar we spend is scrutinized. We are doing this at Hennepin County Library because some of our best ideas and most effective initiatives come from front-line staff — the people who interact with patrons every day.

Earlier this year, as part of an environmental scan for a patron use and open hours study, we asked groups of Hennepin County Library staff to participate in a Trend Wave exercise. Over 500 staff completed the exercise, identifying public library trends that are on the horizon, emerging, established, and disappearing. Staff gave thoughtful responses and valuable insights that, paired with other data and similar surveys, continue to inform Library work and decision-making.

Ongoing change requires everyone to lead from where they are, and libraries must cultivate leaders at every level. To this end, Hennepin County Library specifically identifies staff training and development in our current strategic plan. We promise to build staff confidence and commitment to innovation, creativity, and diversity in order to revolutionize customer service, embrace new technologies, and use research-based information when developing library service.

I encourage you to develop leadership skills in yourself and in your library, and to look for opportunities to lead from where you are.