Report from the Library Leadership Institute for Academic Librarian (LIAL)

I was finishing up my first year in a new position at Coastline Community College when I saw an announcement from CCL about a Library Leadership Scholarship they had available.  As a solo librarian at Coastline I had found myself in new leadership roles across the campus and I needed some help with my juggling act. The CCL Library Leadership Scholarship allowed me to attend the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians (LIAL) this last summer at Harvard.


Yes, that Harvard. LIAL is held each summer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Elizabeth Bowman (SBCC) attended LIAL in 2016 and her report in the CCL Outlook covers the nuts and bolts of the program.  You can read about it at this link:
LIAL was one of the best professional development opportunities I have ever participated in. The Graduate School of Education at Harvard knows it’s stuff.  They started by creating a very safe environment.  The motto was, “What happens at Harvard, stays at Harvard.”  While we all laughed at this, it created a really safe environment for people to talk about some crazy stuff that was going on at different institutions.  Crazy stuff happens in libraries with patrons, co-workers, and administrators.  It’s alright librarians, you are not alone!

I think the leadership institute  had two main strengths.  The first was the tools presented to be more effective leaders.  Most of the institute was structured around the “Four Frames” from the book, Reframing Academic Leadership by Bolman and Gallos.  And who was one of our LIAL instructors?  Joan V. Gallos, the author of that book!  I will admit it took me awhile to drink the “Four Frames” Kool-Aid, but it was a good tool to structure leadership.  For reference the four frames are not related to the ACRL Framework and can be distilled to the structural frame, innovative frame, human resources frame, and political frame. During the program each person takes a quiz to figure out which frames they are strong and not as strong in.  Kind of like a frames personality test.  The frames are used in an organizational management kind of way because it helps each leader look at different aspect of their institution through a “frame”.  There was also a very reflective aspect to the institute and the frames and that created lots of “ah ha!” moments for multiple people in the program.  The most beneficial tool to me was the “stakeholders’ map.”  One of our lectures was a case study where we created a stakeholders map of everyone related to the case. The person / program was in the center and every person or thing that was a stakeholder was surrounding the center.  Communication paths were drawn to show how stakeholders received information. It was my “ah ha” moment when I created my own stakeholder map because it really showed where I should be focusing the majority of my energies when it came to being a library leader at Coastline. It showed I should be focusing a lot more time on faculty as my primary stakeholders as opposed to administration. My communication path is working with administration pretty effectively.  It was cool to realize I was working well with administration and humbling to see where I needed to improve with faculty.

The second big strength was the relationship building that happened and that was facilitated really well by the small groups each of us was placed in. The leadership institute was a little less than a week, but you met with your small group at least once a day.  These could be structured around content in the lectures or be free form.  My group (Group 1) was the best by far, but I think each group thought their group was the best so that was a good sign.

The library leaders who came to this institute were from all kinds of libraries, but mostly from (big) four year / graduate university libraries.  There were only three of us from Community Colleges and two of us were from California!  I went into this institution with no expectations and took it with a grain of salt when some of the content was big library university focused. Which really only happened once because the majority of the program applied to everyone.  I also swelled with pride when some of the leaders pointed out the big universities were losing track of the students and librarians needed to focus on them again like we do in the community colleges.

I left the leadership institute like a wet dog saturated with all my new knowledge and I had to be careful not to shake it all over everyone around me. The bottom line is that I left with new colleague and friends from “Group 1”, the tools I needed to be a more effective leader, and a Harvard sweater.

I am happy to gush about this program and answer any questions you might have.  Thanks again to CCL for the scholarship that helped support my attendance!


Elizabeth Horan, MLIS, MSIDT

Librarian, Coastline Community College