I’ve participated in a number of leadership programs, all of which have been useful in their own way. However, the actual leadership practices typically fall by the wayside as I return to the daily grind of work. All that has changed.
In August, I participated in the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians (LIAL) offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in collaboration with ACRL. I’ve been ruminating on the experience ever since and am finally ready to share a few thoughts.
I think my leadership capacity has naturally developed over the years, but LIAL helped me to more clearly see my strengths and weaknesses, built my confidence, and convinced me that I need to focus on the next step in my career. Since returning, I’ve been much more focused on my own leadership journey. I’m planning and reflecting. I’m using the four frames to think through issues. I’m putting myself out there. I’m making a concerted effort to continue developing my leadership skills on my own.
In addition to the insights, learning, and amazing instructors, I also met some pretty incredible classmates. I hope they will become lifelong friends.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, but my LIAL experience inspired me to share. If you have the opportunity to go to LIAL, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Two years ago, the Dean asked a colleague and me to represent to the library as members of the IUPUI Mentoring Academy. I agreed because, as Dean Lewis pointed out, I had recently gone through the tenure process, making it likely that a number of my fellow librarians would come to me for guidance. I thought the Mentoring Academy would give me skills to better mentor and guide those that sought my advice.
Little did my colleague and I know, we were about to be tasked with developing a mentoring program for the library faculty. To be completely honest, I was not thrilled at this prospect. I didn’t think mentoring was “my thing.” But, like the dutiful librarian I am, I worked with my colleague to develop a program proposal and then to revise that proposal when we didn’t secure campus funding in the first round.
When I found out our program proposal was funded in September 2015, another colleague and I were in need of a capstone project for a campus leadership program we were beginning. Implementing the mentoring program seemed like the perfect fit. It felt like something I was obligated to do anyway, and it could now fill this secondary obligation as well.
Thus began the planning of events to get the mentoring program off the ground and to provide development opportunities for our librarians. Slowly, my attitude began to change. As I moved through the leadership program and the mentoring program planning, I began to recognize all the mentoring relationships I already have. They are largely informal, but I’ve been helped along the way by numerous mentors. I also began to recognize that I am already a mentor to several friends and colleagues, again informally. Then I began mentoring librarians within my library, and the attitude adjustment was complete.
This journey brought on an epiphany. Mentoring is exactly “my thing.” Mentoring is resource sharing. It all seems so obvious now. My entire librarian life has been devoted to resource sharing, and now I’ve found another method. By offering to mentor and providing development opportunities for my fellow librarians, I’m sharing some of my most personal and precious resources — my time, my experience, and my empathy. Resource sharing doesn’t stop with the books we buy or the articles we deliver or even with our ILL expertise. To make a successful community, resource sharing must extend to our very selves.