By Colleen S. Harris-Keith, M.L.S., M.F.A., Ed.D., Senior Assistant Librarian & Information Literacy Coordinator

Colleen S. Harris-Keith

I have always been interested in what makes for a good leader. My research examines leadership skill development and, in particular, how academic library deans and directors perceive how their careers as librarians prepared them for the crucial skills required of directors.

Library directors at colleges and universities are expected to serve in a number of roles, not least of which is to help direct and support their institution’s efforts in scholarly communication, informing faculty of their options when it comes to publishing and disseminating their research and making information  —  and the access to it  —  easier for faculty, students and the communities we serve. However, these important responsibilities fall to the wayside when new directors must spend the bulk of their time learning basic skills.

Knowing what the crucial leadership skills are, and where library director professional preparation is lacking, means that our professional associations like the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries can better design professional development opportunities to target leadership skill development, especially in the five areas my research found to be especially lacking: compliance issues, fundraising and donor relations, facilities planning and management, legal issues and school safety.

In January of this year I was awarded the Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research by The American Library Association for my research article in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, one of the top journals in my field. Recently I was thrilled to learn that the May 2016 issue of American Libraries, the flagship magazine of the American Library Association, named my dissertation one of the top 10 Notable Dissertations of the Year. While my research continues (I have a new dataset to start examining this summer!), I will be presenting my research and some recommendations for action at the American Library Association annual conference in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.

As Information Literacy Coordinator on campus, I teach students how to do research. It has been fun to be able to point to my own research as an example of how an idea becomes a passion and how the research process works from idea conception, to researching the problem, designing a study, all the way through to publication.

© Spring 2016 / Volume 20 / Number 01 / Bi-annual

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