The leap to library leadership can be difficult if you have no experience in supervision. While larger library systems may have a deep structure that allows employees to start on step one of the ladder and progress one rung at a time to that director position, most of us in Oregon work for smaller libraries where there are few or no successive steps between circulation clerk and director. In these types of organizations, how does someone gain the experience necessary to make one a viable candidate for the job? Because of the diversity of functions from library to library and position to position, experience with a specific set of tasks really does not assess someone’s success in a job. The viable candidate, especially in supervisory positions, does not necessarily have a specific operational skill set as much as a set of characteristics that will help one succeed as a leader.

There is a distinction between management and leadership. While both are necessary, management tends to focus on hard skills while leadership is more about the soft skills. Leadership establishes a direction for the organization by creating a vision, by aligning people to the vision through superb communication and team-building skills, and by motivating and inspiring the team to follow the vision (Kotter, 2008). Managers plan and budget, establish rules and procedures, develop incentives, and take corrective action. John Kotter (2008) separated the two in this way: management produces order and consistency; leadership produces change and movement. While libraries tend to value order and consistency, those individuals who can produce change and movement will be of the most value to the 21st-century library.

Author Biography

Melissa Little is the Circulation Manager for the Beaverton City Libraries. She started her professional life in social work. She then moved to bookstore management for ten years. Finally, seeing a profession that combined her love of lifelong learning with service to the community, she sought a career in libraries. Her first job was working on the bookmobile at the Anaheim (CA) Public Library. From there she became the Assistant Manager of Circulation and Customer Service at Palos Verdes (CA) Library District. After receiving her MLIS from San Jose State University, she secured her current position as Circulation Manager at the Beaverton City Library. In her spare time she loves exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest, crafting, and reading.

Copyright statement

© 2018 Melissa Little



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