In this session, we’ll examine the assumptions and attitudes inherent in traditional library leadership models. We’ll discuss how the concept, generally understood, tends to promote and perpetuate inequality and homogeneity in the way libraries are staffed and run.
The term “leadership” itself invites further examination, since it’s heavily tied up with notions of management and deeply-encoding hierarchical ways of thinking about how organizations function. The process of conferring “leader” status on individuals is no less fraught, with “ideal” candidates typically identified by management as potential leaders and then pushed through a formal grooming process, often including opportunities (NELI, Harvard Leadership Institute, etc.) which can be logistically and financially burdensome for participants.
This model disproportionately selects for privilege, further perpetuating the homogeneity of social class, race, and gender expression in library work. Uncoupling leadership from this managerialist model, we’ll discuss how communal approaches can more successfully foster leadership from all levels.
– Understand the barriers and repercussions inherent in traditional library leadership models
– Understand and articulate the importance of alternative library leadership models and why they are worth pursuing
– Leave with examples of positive traditional leadership models, as well as examples of lateral and bottom-up alternative models