ARCL/NY Management and Leadership Development Discussion Group Meeting – Friday, November 6.

Posted on behalf of Thomas Keenan, Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies Librarian at Princeton University:

The ARCL/NY Management and Leadership Development Discussion Group will hold it’s next meeting at 9:30 on Friday November 6th at Mercy College in Midtown Manhattan, just off of Herald Square.

At the group’s inaugural meeting last February 20 people from a broad range of institutions convened – despite temperatures of minus 10 with windchill – to be addressed by Lisa Norberg. Lisa spoke to the group about her long career in academic libraries and reflected on experiences leading libraries through major transitions, sharing her insights vis-à-vis managing without official authority, balancing competing pressures from diverse stakeholders and negotiating resistance to change in the complex organizational structures of academic libraries and their parent institutions. A very lively discussion ensued.

On November 6th the group will hold its second meeting without a guest speaker. I have a topic or complex of questions in mind to focus our discussion, but if those of you who plan to attend have alternate suggestions I’m much more than happy to entertain those.

My own thought is the following:

We’re all aware that as an institution libraries are in flux. At the highest administrative levels many reasearch libraries recognize that deep change and uncomfortably rapid evolution are inevitable and respond to the acknowledged need for a shakeup by soliciting innovative initiative from all levels of their orgniazations. As a result, demonstrated capacities for leadership and active creativity have become frequent requirements for new appoitments to – and for promotion and tenure for librarians already in – positions not endowed with any authority to impose change. I myself hear a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests these institutional structures too often fail to overcome their own inertia and become receptive to the evolutionary impulses they solicit or even require of their mid-ranking constituents. It seems that often librarians hired as salutary “new blood” or “breaths of fresh air” and others charged with being change agents of one order or another find that their projects are reflexively rejected as unviable, the institutional culture and/or organizational structure being what they are.

Assuming this resonates with a critical mass of the November 6 meeting’s attendees, I think it would be useful for our discussion group to share leading-from-the-middle stories. Perhaps we can learn from each other’s attemtps – successful or failed – to overcome resistance and introduce change through the development and deployment of social capital and exertions of other varieties of soft influence. Hopefully this can serve as a point of departure for a discussion of strategies for productive compromise, strategies for developing innovative proposals that take full stock of the realia of the status quo and for bridging the gap between ready innovators and larger institutional structures which seem simultaneously to require and thwart initiative and to demand and resist change.

The meeting will run from 9:30 to 10:45 am on Friday November 6th and will be held in Room 723, Mercy College, Manhattan, 66 W 35th St, New York, NY 10016.

Those interested in attending should register in advance.

Please note that ACRL/NY discussion groups are open to current ACRL/NY members exclusively. If you are not currently a member and would like to join, you can do so here. If you’re unsure about your current membership status, please contact Werner Sbaschnik.

Please note also that all attendees of ACRL/NY discussion groups are expected to abide by ARCL/NY’s code of conduct.

Thomas Keenan, Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies Librarian
Princeton University
Firestone Library, B-9-P
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544-2098

About John Pell

John Pell is an assistant professor and librarian at Hunter College in New York City.

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