I am so pleased with how many people supported the creation of a Leadership discussion group within ACRL. The petition has been submitted, and the ACRL Board will discuss it next month at their meeting. I’ll let folks know what I hear!
In case you’re interested, here’s what I submitted to the Board, in addition to the text on the petition itself (now closed)
Developing and supporting Leadership in Academic libraries is an area of strategic importance for ACRL, but is a community gap that ACRL does not structurally fill at this time. Academic libraries pose different paths, challenges and opportunities for leadership and management than other types of libraries, and these qualities deserve the focused attention that an ACRL group can afford. There are sections within ACRL with leadership/management committees; the existence of these can be read to support a need for a leadership forum for all types of groups within ACRL. Acquiring 58 signatures in 24 hours on the Petition to create a Leadership Discussion group within ACRL also speaks to the demand.
While ‘management’ frequently refers to a position with authority, ‘leadership’ refers to a set of skills, abilities, and actions that can be exercised by people in any job category within an academic library. Leadership skills are desirable in working with peers, as well as with people in different employment categories, regardless of whether they fall laterally or above or below a leader on an org chart. Leadership skills are also essential in working within professional organizations at committee level as well as working within the overarching organizational structures; ACRL’s (laudable) movement towards virtual meetings complicates communication and community building, and multiplies the need for developing leadership abilities in ACRL members.
There is a special need for ACRL to focus on leadership skills: academic libraries staffs are frequently (and uniquely) constituted of faculty and civil service members. These categories of colleagues cannot be managed in the most common sense, as the structures of those categories lack many incentive and disincentive options. ‘Managing’ faculty and civil service requires leadership skills, and addressing the needs of ACRL members in organizations with these populations can best be accomplished in undiluted conversations and fora.