McGoogan Library of Medicine
University of Nebraska
Eccles Health Sciences Library
University of Utah
Emily Glenn and Mellanye Lackey each received $1500 professional development funding from the NNLM MidContinental Region to attend the 2017 Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians (LIAL). This report describes their experiences during the Institute.
Our Experiences at LIAL
We would describe the LIAL as accessible, focused, modern, and provocative. Before attending, we did not expect personal or professional transformation in just one week. Rather, we expected to be challenged, to gain tools for inquiry and leadership, to meet people who would learn with us and to dig into the career and climate issues in academic librarianship. Our expectations were met and exceeded. In short, it was a transformational experience.
The program was well-structured and provided ample time for networking, reflection, and analysis. We were pleased by the diversity of participants—career orientations, languages spoken, backgrounds, institution types, and geographic representations.
A key part of each day was the examination of challenging case studies exploring situations that leaders in academia regularly face. The precision of the case analysis process was impressive, and the instructors masterfully helped us relate the cases to our own organizations.
As mid-career professionals, we felt at home in the cohort of 110 participants. We were assigned to small groups for daily meetings and discussion of required and recommended readings. (Yes. There is homework!) During this time, we reviewed individual cases, talked about “aha!” moments, and reflected on the course content presented during the previous day. Our discussions included the application of the structural, human resources, symbolic, and political frames described in the book Reframing Academic Leadership by Joan Gallos and Lee Bolman. Individually and as a group, we dug into the challenges and rewards of being leaders, of working toward effectiveness, and of managing up using these frames. Using these frames was exciting new territory.
Lessons learned from the Institute have already impacted our job responsibilities and career goals. Recurring themes of LIAL discussions focused on managing people, change, reframing, culture, and growth. Bigger picture ideas from the week included consideration for roles of librarians as faculty members, identifying milestones for professional development, facilitating cross-university faculty communications teams, and strengthening the library as a partner in the institution. All of these boosted our confidence to better navigate higher administration.
The Institute encouraged us to think way outside the “box” to consider the impacts and perspectives of competitors, disruptors, outside agents, advisory boards, and allies who have the ears of executives on our campuses.
The LIAL was useful in helping us to continue to lead with new insight and to evaluate future leadership opportunities. We plan to keep in touch with our new (instant) network of colleagues to support each other and keep the learning flowing.
Overall, we both felt that attending LIAL was extremely valuable. While it was an intense experience, we benefited greatly and highly encourage our colleagues with leadership positions to apply.