I conducted a Library Management Skills Institute (LMSI) in Waterloo, Ontario a couple of weeks ago.
The Institute was sponsored by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) and hosted by the University of Waterloo. The group consisted of people who work in Ontario’s academic libraries: some of whom have official managerial roles; some who don’t have official “authority” but plenty of responsibility for leading projects to success; some of whom are librarians; some who have industry backgrounds that they are now bringing to libraries; and some who are coming from public libraries and now working in an academic setting. The group demographic was younger than I typically experience in the same workshop over the years I’ve facilitated it. This is an interesting and telling observation given Canada’s commitment over the past ten years to invest in building a new leadership base in academic libraries, in response to a large anticipated wave of retirements now and into the near future. And most importantly about this group, they were smart, engaging and emotionally intelligent. They gave me great hope and excitement for the future of academic libraries.
Library Management Skills Institute is a 3-day workshop that blends presentation of tested managerial theories and models with application to scenarios and experiences relevant to the participants. Some of the workshop segments include: understanding and working with personal behavioral preferences, motivating others (and self), power dynamics and influence strategies for managers, facilitating participatory decision making process, and coaching. For most of the participants, the content either introduced new concepts and ideas about management techniques or affirmed the helpful practices that are already part of their management toolkit. One of the most important learning elements, though, has always been the ability to learn with and from colleagues. They shared stories from their various libraries, explored alternatives for solving problems with people in similar situations as their own, and built a professional network that will stay with them for years.
In general, these types of learning events have been unevenly resourced and encouraged, especially over the past several years. As a consultant, I’ve been leery of the future viability of these experiences. I’m now making this blog entry from Kingston, Ontario, where I’m conducting a Leading Change Institute–the second institute offered by OCUL in three weeks. While OCUL’s always been particularly committed to professional development, I am now shifting in my position–from suspicion to hopefulness–for the rest of the profession. I am feeling a new sense of hope that the library profession is now clearing it’s figurative head and is re-focusing on those things that have always been core values–namely, learning and staff excellence.
Group, I look forward to seeing all of you in the future as you continue to contribute to the profession. I’m honored to be part of your network.
Catherine, thanks for the picture!