Friday, August 8, 2014

Teacher Librarians Attend ILA Leadership Institute

Every other year, the Iowa Library Association invites leadership expert and former ALA President Maureen Sullivan to present to current and potential leaders in the Iowa Library world. August 6th-8th, four Teacher Librarians were a part of this institute in Cedar Rapids along with three academic librarians and twenty-two public librarians.

Left to Right: Maureen Sullivan, Elizabeth Schau, Jenna Spiering, 
Chelsea Sims, Kat Rogers (not pictured)

The Leadership Institute covered various models of leadership styles, approaches to risk-taking, embracing creativity, becoming a change agent, effective teamwork, negotiating conflict, coaching and more. 

As an IASL Board member, it was so energizing to meet and collaborate with librarians from so many types and sizes of libraries. I learned a great deal about how other libraries operate and was so impressed by the passionate and talented group of colleagues we have in our state.  

It is often easy for us to assume that our libraries are so much different than those in other institutions, but when we were discussing challenges we face in our libraries, all of our lists were all nearly identical!  Our profession as a whole is dealing with changing library landscapes, a misunderstanding by many of the services we can and do offer, making sure our services/collections remain responsive, ensuring we have enough funding/staffing/training to complete our mission, and finding ways to collaborate to improve our work.  Our institutions may be different, but we are all really alike in our goals and challenges.

I left feeling extremely hopeful about the possibilities we have to be more collaborative among divisions of ILA and various types of librarians in general. Public Librarians want to work with us on programming and supporting school curriculum. Academic Librarians were very vocal about how much what we do helps them when students get to higher ed, and want to work with us more to develop the skills students need. 

I have been inspired to do more to reach out to public librarians and academic librarians in (or beyond!) my area to begin a collaborative relationship. These types of relationships will not only help us to learn more about the strengths of other libraries, but also to improve the services we all offer to our patrons - whether they are babies, students, or adults. 

We already know the value of collaborating within our schools, but we are at the perfect point in time for us to reach beyond our silos and embrace the incredible skills and opportunities we can offer when we work together as a profession.  I encourage you to reach out, attend ILA Conference in October, and stay committed to improving the contributions our profession makes to the world!