Thinking Leadership in Libraries

Leadership Arrow

As part of the work being done by LIANZA’s Emerging Leaders Working Group, Cath Sheard has been conducting a series of interviews over the past few months with librarians around the country on the subject of leadership in New Zealand libraries. It is interesting to read all five interviews and to see the diverse ways in which leadership is viewed and it has been fantastic to see two school librarians included in the series to date. Bridget Schaumann, current SLANZA President shared her views on leading a secondary school library,  in June, while in the current issue I looked at the bigger picture of identifying leadership potential.

I found the first question: “Who do you look up to as a leader, and why?” more difficult to answer than I had initially thought it would.  It compelled me to really think about the attributes of a great leader and clarified my thinking around why certain names came to mind first. My own personal list of people I look to in my professional life for inspiration, superb ideas and sound reasoning is extensive,  but I thought I would share just a few who have been consistently influential.

Suzette Boyd Head of Library and Information Services at Scotch College in Melbourne

A most generous and astute woman.  Her book, The Connected Library is a hands-on, roll your sleeves up, practical but inspirational manual for any school librarian.  A must-read, that I have gone back to repeatedly.  Also, the Scotch College Library website is one of the best school library websites I’ve come across.  A fantastic example of how it can be.

Dr Ross Todd Associate Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries

I’ve had the privilege of hearing Ross speak on a number of occasions over the past eight years and have continued to be inspired and validated each time.  His work on information literacy, inquiry-based research and evidence-based practice is without peer and he is a passionate world-wide advocate for school libraries.

Buffy Hamilton Teacher and Librarian in Georgia, USA – currently transitioning back from public to school libraries. Yes!

This woman is a total inspiration!  She is one of the best reflective practitioners I have come across and she is extremely generous at sharing her journey in libraries.  She has been the inspiration for me being brave enough to begin my own blog in an attempt emulate her example of reflecting and sharing.

Ned Potter – Academic Librarian at York University

I discovered “theRealwikiman” when planning for my Tertiary Prep Unit and I’ve been “following” him ever since, as much of what he does is developing and delivering programmes to staff and students in a tertiary environment.  He is another reflective practitioner who has brilliant ideas and is prepared to share them.  I was gutted when I discovered that the session on using Prezi that Ned was presenting at LILAC 2012 was scheduled at the same time as I was giving my presentation, as his was on the top of my list.  However, I was slightly appeased when, thanks to Sally Pewhairangi, we managed to touch base and meet each other at the conference anyway.  He is a much sought-after presenter and speaker and has written a book, The Library Marketing Toolkit, which is supported by his excellent website of the same name.

Tara BrabazonProfessor of Education and the Head of School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University

At the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington I described Tara as the energiser bunny, and she’s all that and much, much more! I first met this wonderful, wonderful woman at LILAC 2012, where took me under her wing and has nurtured me ever since! She is truly the most vibrant, energetic, encouraging, unique, caring person I’ve ever come across.  I don’t believe the word “can’t” ever enters into Tara’s vocabulary.  What she achieves is truly remarkable and a total inspiration to strive for your best – always.

Barbara Fister – Tertiary Librarian at  Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, Gustavus Adolphus College

Barbara writes a regular column for Inside Higher Ed. blog and I serendipitously discovered her writing due to a piece she wrote about the Information Literacy Project by Alison Head which I have been following with great interest for several years.  I liked her style and her perspective on matters to do with libraries and learning often makes me pause, reflect and consider.  I believe it’s good to find someone who challenges and/or confirms some of your own thinking as they open your eyes to fresh ideas and possibilities.  Erica McWilliam is another whose writing also has the same effect.

Donna Watt Digital and Communication Manager, Invercargill Public Library

She’s one of my flockmates – one of only two –  who has shared my journey, experiences, highs and lows spanning over a decade.  We have worked together professionally through local library circles, as part of the Otago/Southland Information Literacy Project, on SLANZA National Executive.  She backs me up when I need it, tells me straight when I need that too! Speaks the shorthand that only people who have gone through it with you can understand.  I value her opinion and advice immensely and treasure her friendship.

Judy O’Connell Course Director for the Teacher Librarianship degree, Charles Sturt University

Ever since the 2009 SLANZA Conference when Judy wowed us all with her opening keynote address, I have been a huge fan, groupie even! She is one of the most prolific curators and disseminators of relevant and useful information, especially regarding web 2.0 tools and her blog – Hey Jude, Learning in an Online World, is definitely one to subscribe to.  She is also very collaborative and enjoys discussing issues and ideas directly, which is fantastic and very generous of her.

So there’s my list.  Why don’t you consider who is on your own list. And then why not consider letting them know just what impact they’ve made in your professional practice.

Do you want to have a conversation with your principal about iPads?

Then here is the one article you should share with them.  The Essential iPad Guide for Principals is a concise, practical guide to simple steps principals or any other member of your School Leadership Team, who are interested in getting the best out of their iPads can use.  There seems to be the notion that iPads are great “toys” – which they are!! – but the educational purposes are less obvious.  If we want those who make the budget decisions to see just how great a tool for themselves and other educators then we need to show them.

This article is written by Justin Baeder, and appears on the website. He is a public elementary school principal in Seattle and a doctoral student at the University of Washington.

In this article he limits himself to just a few apps that he finds most useful.  They are all great, but I particularly like Evernote  which Justin describes as his filecabinet and i-annotate, a specialised app that allows you to annotate your PDF’s.

I had a conversation with my principal just last week about iPads and how I was suffering from “iPad envy”.  I told him I would be requesting one in my 2013 Library budget.  His response was that he hoped I could justify how I was going to use it educationally with students.  No worries about that, I replied!  I’ll provide plenty of examples of how it can be used for education!

Guess what he received in his email inbox from me this morning!  I challenge you to share this with your principal this week and then be prepared to back it up with a conversation with them about it.