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Library Leadership Ohio:”The Best Leaders Tell the Best Stories”

I have recently returned from Library Leadership Ohio (LLO) and cannot say enough positive things about my experience. It was held for two and a half days in Worthington and there were 50 librarians in attendance total. I was fortunate to receive an OELMA Scholarship to attend (THANK YOU OELMA) and I was one of two school librarians present. Most of the participants are public librarians; however, there were a few other academic and special librarians there as well. I would love to see more school librarians at this event in the future, as I feel we have much to offer and the lessons and ideas learned and shared here will make us better leaders in the library world. One of the first things we did was take a Strengthfinder quiz with speaker Paul Hilt as part of the book, Strengthfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. We then shared our top 5 strengths and did a series of exercises to focus on what these strengths have to do with our daily work in libraries. Interestingly, many librarians’ strengths were achiever and learner—makes sense, right?

We also heard from the Deputy Library Director from Chatanooga, Tennessee-Nate Hill. He focused on how libraries need to think about the customer experience not solely customer service and we need to be designing new services and creating value for new library users. He shared how he has helped transform his library into more of a maker space and focused on the idea of “Experience Design” to bring new users into their libraries. We heard from Paul Hilt the 2nd day as well-and he spoke to us about how we need to “Innovate or Die.” We did some exercises in looking at library sub-experiences patrons have, and how we need to sell the experience of using a library more and more. He also mentioned that we have an advantage to being innovative because we can find things! This rings very true for us in school libraries!  We also heard a special presentation from Past ALA President Barbara Stripling on the future of libraries and I was happy to see school libraries and research about school libraries in her presentation!  

Another key speaker we heard from was State Library of Ohio Board President Steve Wood. He gave us a breakdown of do’s and don’ts when working with Boards and it was very interesting to hear him, as he has been a Board Member as well as a Library Director-so he has seen both sides and worked in both positions! I was also lucky enough to see OELMA’s own Krista Taracuk at LLO-as she is on the State Library of Ohio Board and they were all in attendance to meet with us as well.

Some other interesting things we did was work with a small group of 10 librarians on an upcoming project for LLO14. I was assigned to work with the Staffing for the Future Team, and we are currently working on putting together a sample of a Change Management Toolkit for librarians who make hiring decisions and train other librarians. We pitched this idea to a librarian panel the last days of LLO, and the panel enjoyed this idea a lot! We will be working on this as a team virtually the next few months. Other teams have projects as well on various library topics and we made sure to focus on making them open to ALL libraries and relevant to the work we ALL do.

There were so many interesting speakers and moments-I could blog on and on (but I won’t)! I will say that for me, the best thing I walked away with was a better perspective on libraries and the impact being a leader can have not only for one’s own professional development, but also for the library you work in. Networking with other librarians was an invaluable experience for me and we need to always remember that our public and special librarian friends may not fully understand what school librarians really do—so educate them when you see one! One attendee even told me he had never had a deep and meaningful conversation with a school librarian about our career before LLO! That is just wrong! 

I would like to express my thanks again for the LLO Scholarship so that I could attend. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to attend. We are all leaders whether we like it or not-as we have many management and leadership job duties each and every day in our schools. The more we lead, the more we can articulate how we add value to our students’ successes and as Paul Hilt said-“The best leaders tell the best stories.” LLO was an amazing experience and I am grateful for the opportunity. I will end this long blog (thanks for sticking with this if you did) with this quote that was shared on LLO day one:

“Leadership is the ability to align strengths toward a goal or vision in such a way that weaknesses are irrelevant.” ~Peter Drucker 

Library Leadership Ohio Class of 2014!