Becoming a better leader — Joining the Lilead Fellows

We know librarians are leaders, both in the library and “beyond the library” as the Future Ready Framework points out.  But we all need help to improve our leadership skills.  I’m fortunate to be part of the The Lilead Fellows this year, a program that pulls together library leaders from around the country to build their leadership skills and to tackle an important project in their own districts.

I am part of the 2017-2018 cohort of librarians, who met last week at Old Dominion University to begin learning from one another.

It’s so valuable to work long term with a group of district librarians from across the country–building a tribe.

John Chrastka, of EveryLibrary, who lobbies for libraries, will be one of our collaborative partners for this cohort and shared important strategies for running a campaign for a cause.

Part of my mentor team, Jenny and Susan

My biggest takeaway? We need to build coalitions. And we need a village of  librarians to support our work.  Both to have advocates who speak on our behalf, and also to inform our efforts.

And to work to build a coalition, we have to:

  1.  identify who could be in that coalition
  2. spend time thinking about our core values and beliefs (What is our “WHY”?)
  3. spend time thinking about their core values and beliefs
  4. figure out where our core values intersect
  5. understand how to approach these coalition members
  6. believe passionately in your project

Chrastka points out that good candidates know that:

  • Issues are advanced and elections are won through coalitions
    • endorsements create legitimacy
    • proxies who to speak for the candidate are necessary

Too often, librarians comment how we aren’t understood by others, but have we really taken the time to consciously build constituencies in our districts for our work that go beyond our building?

Some possible members of your constituency:

  • Within the building
    • Students
    • Parents
    • Teachers
    • PTO
    • Special education department; parents of special needs students
    • Curriculum department
    • Technology department
    • Principals/Administrators
    • Counselors
  • Beyond the building
    • Local public library and their governing board
    • Local business organizations
    • Industries in your community(high tech, manufacturing, real estate)
    • Colleges and universities in your area (and clubs at those universities)
    • Service clubs(Rotary, Junior League, Big Brother/Big Sisters, etc.)
    • Community nonprofits(especially Literacy organizations)
    • STEM/STEAM organizations
    • Museums
    • Police/fire departments
    • Local independent bookstores
    • Local sports teams
    • Alumni organizations
    • Other librarians
    • Retired educators

This is just a partial list from the Lilead Institute   The key is to identify potential partners for you and to have a plan for understanding what values these organizations share with you.

What are your shared values?

What is your shared identity?

What is your common cause?

Who are you both concerned about?

Try creating a Venn diagram of your partner’s concerns and yours and in the center, try to identify what your shared concerns are.



And if you have been working in isolation, this year, consider reaching out to another librarian or two, and set up a regular time to talk or meet and share your big projects with one another.

I’ll share more throughout my Lilead year.  Thanks to Ann Weeks for the original “big goal” of creating the Lilead Fellows!  And I hope next year, some of you apply!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *