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LIBER Leadership Development Program: Building a High-Level Seminar for the Next Generation of Senior Leaders

Julien Roche, Villeneuve d'Ascq | Dec 01, 2011

LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries, has formulated a strategic plan describing its main goals for the years 2010-2012. Among its plans, LIBER is instituting an ambitious international development program for its members. To fulfill this goal, the Steering Committee on Organisation and Human Resources and, in particular, the Leadership Working Group, has developed a high-level seminar in three stages to prepare the next generation of senior leaders in European research libraries.

A leadership shortage

Our profession faces a shortage of people willing and ready to take leading positions in the research libraries of tomorrow. Therefore, the LIBER leadership program aims to work with people who are already in senior management positions and wish to enhance their leadership qualities and take on higher-level responsibilities within a few years. Various countries already have leadership development programs for recently appointed library directors. But as the skills needed to lead libraries change, so will the type of directors needed. In general, libraries will forsake the traditional profile in favor of more internationally oriented directors. Although training of directors and mobility of staff across Europe are critically important, LIBER believes the primary focus should be on a leadership development program for people at the second tier who are willing and capable of becoming library directors in a few years.

The program framework

LIBER decided not to replicate what already exists in individual member countries. LIBER's intention was to develop something different, but complementary, to the programs of the Tilburg Innovation Centre for Electronic Resources (Ticer) and the like. Since LIBER is an association of European research libraries, it is particularly well placed to offer a mix of courses and practical experience with experienced research library directors. And because quality is much more important than quantity, LIBER has launched an ambitious international leadership development program featuring a combination of high-level workshops and training with individual mentors. The initial cohort consists of 16 participants.

The seminar program will last two years and is divided into three parts:

  • To begin, a two-day session took place in June 2011 before LIBER's annual conference in Barcelona. During the session, participants completed a Myers-Briggs test (personality inventory), and four high-level guest speakers covered subjects including what makes a good leader, know yourself, know your direction, and take others with you.
  • Subsequently, participants will be mentored for a year. This mentorship will be based on a clear contract among the course director, the participating librarian, the librarian's director, and LIBER. The librarian does a placement of one to two weeks in the mentor's library, shadowing the mentor and having discussions with the mentor about the way he or she works. In addition, there will be opportunities for continued communication throughout the year.
  • The program will culminate in a two-day seminar in 2012 before LIBER's annual conference in Tartu, Estonia, with courses and the opportunity to share experiences.

Plans are in place to begin selecting candidates for the next two-year program, starting in Munich in June 2013.