SLLLG: Scottish law library leaders group?

The SLLG Twitter account, @scotlawlibs, regularly posts items it finds on the reasons law information professionals bring value to those using information services. Yesterday it posted 3 links to articles from “library twitter” based around the idea of management, leadership and self-care in the workplace. SLLG members might find these of interest.

Remy Maisel writes in What Management Skills Do You Need to Run A Library? that, like all professional occupations, a Librarian is expected to accomplish some tasks recognisable in management roles. This is despite evidence suggesting few enter the Library sector to be managers.

The article states every successful information professional has good communication skills. These skills are also the main basis for much of everyday successful library management.

Some argue that communication skills and the ability to delegate are more important characteristics for a manager to possess than experience, though experience is beneficial.

The article continues with highlighting  management aspects such as planning, organising and directing, and service promotion stemming from the initial skills associated with communication.

The article suggests focussed networking is key in benefiting both the individual and the service.

Steven Bell takes a rather counterintuitive tact in his What Not To Do: Tips for New Library Leaders, for those just starting out with leadership responsibilities. Here, Bell suggests that there are expectations attached to leadership. Bell states that mistakes offer valuable lessons.

It certainly helps to learn what to do to get it right. New leaders also benefit from learning basic mistakes they need to avoid, but they hear about the latter less than needed.

He expands in his article on what he considers are what-not-to-dos:

  1. Not “giving up” your old job and still focussing on the service provision you’ve left
  2. Launching initiatives attached to no specific problem
  3. Finding positions for ex-colleagues or friends
  4. Over-promising, under-delivering

He also links and makes reference to more “not-to-dos”.

It’s not all negatives though, and Bell provides some constructive tips. These include communication with stake-holders, becoming aware of the wider institution and networking with fellow library leaders. This final point, he says, can help alleviate some of the stress of leadership.

I learned that most of my peers had similar issues, concerns, and stressors. I came away feeling more confident that I could do this job.

Steven Bell has written on the subject of leadership in libraries from different angles in a few posts, which members may find of interest.

A far more general article on stress in the workplace was linked to by SLA New England. How to Recognize Burnout before You’re Burned Out by Kenneth R. Rosen, in the New York Times. Stress and tension is something which affects all jobs, including law librarianship.

Rosen identifies some “common work stressors” such as unrealistic deadlines, changes to processes, added responsibility beyond initial scope of role (when leadership is an unwanted by-product)

…we are not meant to be in that high-stress mode all the time. We got lost in this idea that the only way to be productive is to be on the go-go-go mode.

Rosen then offers some ideas to “combat burnout at work” including taking time off, making the workspace more comfortable, having a hobby or activity to look forward to outside work, and finding someone trusted to talk through the stressors and perhaps agree possible resolutions.

So, again, communication and networking. Communicating as our skill, and networking as we do in the SLLG.

Whether any article has its flaws, or is far from the definitive word on what is Library Leadership, is up for debate. And that’s good because it furthers the subject for us in considering ourselves as leaders or potential leaders in our roles. Stimulating deeper readings and thoughts in this area is a positive to understanding when we are leaders and when we wish to take a step back from leadership.

Although, they or other studies can’t hope to explain why good library leadership is sometimes simply sticking a blow-up dinosaur in the library.

Inflatable T-Rex

What do you think are leadership facets we see in law librarianship? Are we all leaders to some extent? Do we want to be viewed as leaders? Feel free to add to the comments box below.

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