9 Ways to Become an Even Awesomer Library Leader in 2016

Megan Hartline —  January 5, 2016 — 8 Comments

The new year is the perfect time to lay out a plan for invigorating your library career. Our mission at Library Lost & Found is to help you grow as a library leader (and we believe you can be a leader in any role). Leaders are always growing and changing, so every year is a chance to build on your library awesomeness.

After considering these 9 ideas for developing your library leadership, take the poll at the end of the post. We’ll focus our content over 2016 in the leadership areas you choose!

1) Give Back to Librarianship

Professional service is a way to help library professionals stay connected outside of their own library. In addition to the virtuous glow that comes from helping librarianship, committee work has a side bonus of building your resume and your career.

Not sure where to start with library committees? Check out one librarian’s tale of starting small and building up.

2) Root Yourself in Your Community

Libraries exist to help users connect with information – and there are undoubtedly potential users in your community who don’t take advantage of library services. The best way to serve your community is to deeply embed yourself within it.

You can volunteer, join groups, talk with people in line at the coffeeshop – all while repping the library. By rooting yourself more deeply in the community, you’ll bring individual users to the library and get ideas on how to better serve the whole.

3) Find a Mentor

Everyone, even the most experience librarian, loves having a mentor. A mentor gives you candid advice, a long-range perspective, and a dash of career advice.

If you’re lucky, your boss is one of your mentors. As Fortune points out, though, not every boss is a mentor – and you definitely need a mentor that is not your boss.

Think about someone whose career you admire, in or out of libraries and start turning to that person when you need advice. You don’t have to formally ask them to be your mentor, but you do have to be mindful of making it a healthy relationship for both of you. That starts with expressing your gratitude for their help.

4) Mentor Someone Else

Everyone loves having a mentor . . . so be one for someone else. You don’t need years of library experience or a fancy title to mentor someone else in the library profession, nor do you have to announce that you are mentoring them. Mentoring starts with sharing how you tackle dilemmas, or how you approach new challenges. Talk through your thought process.

Mentoring, whether formal or informal, is a key way to increase the diversity and vibrancy of the library profession. You can bring new people into librarianship by taking pages or student employees under your wing and helping them see the possibilities of an information career.

Or, go big and create a mentoring program at your library.

5) Keep Up With the Profession

Being the best librarian you can depends on keeping up with current trends and new ideas. This is as simple as browsing blogs, journals, or even Twitter to hear what other people in library land are doing. Good news: reading Library Lost & Found totally counts as keeping up with the profession.

6) Learn How to Do Something

Continuous learning and growth is a key trait for leaders. Take a class in writing code, try your hand at graphic design, or learn a new language (check out Duolingo for a fun way to add vocabulary).

7) Plan a Killer Staff Training Day

Library leaders help their team grow by offering great professional development. What can you do for your team this year? We have a great guide to planning in-service training, and Library Lost & Found writers are available to visit your library to talk about customer service, workflow improvement, collection development, and leadership.

8) Start Something Amazing

You keep up with the profession, you learn new stuff, you engage with your community – now put it into action and innovate at your library with an awesome new program or service.

In order to do cool new stuff with the same level of resources, take a hard look at stale services within your library and consider sunsetting programs that no longer best help your users.

9) Share Your Awesome Sauce

Librarianship thrives on a culture of sharing. Share what you’ve learned at a conference with a poster session, workshop, or lightning talk. The thought of presenting can be intimidating, but public speaking is a skill librarians need.

You can also share without getting up in front of other people, by writing up your accomplishments. Make 2016 the year you publish a peer-reviewed article – or write a post for Library Lost & Found!

What are you going to do in 2016 to become an even better library leader?


badge with text "commit to awesome library leadership 2016"

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

8 responses to 9 Ways to Become an Even Awesomer Library Leader in 2016


    Your recommendation to “give back” to librarianship made me think of a post (which i had not thought about in a long time) about “giveback librarianship” – sort of along the same line of thinking http://acrlog.org/2007/04/23/how-to-be-a-giveback-generation-librarian/

    Otherwise good advice for – not just for those who want to lead – but for librarians who want to be more engaged with the profession and their colleagues.


      Thanks for sharing. Those are great ideas about how to give back to other librarians, especially inviting a newer colleague to co-write or co-present. It’s a great way to coach someone in professional communication, and (side benefit) working collaboratively helps me motivated and interested!


    What a great list!

    I’m particularly attached to the idea of “rooting yourself” in the community in a way that goes beyond the official library presence at festivals, etc. I don’t live in the community I serve, which can make it more difficult to do this, so I try to look for little ways to participate that don’t involve me driving out of my way every week. I recently decided that when I forget to take off my name tag when going out to lunch or run errands for work, I would just leave it on. It’s inspired a handful of comments, a few conversations, and I like to think it serves as a reminder to people that we’re here.

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