Library Leaders Are Failing Librarianship: Soft Skills Needed for Human Library Leadership

Your Name and Title:

Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian

Library, School, or Organization Name:

Temple University Libraries

Co-Presenter Name(s):

Not Applicable

Area of the World from Which You Will Present:

United States

Language in Which You Will Present:


Target Audience(s):

Current and aspiring managers and leaders though not necessarily those in formal leadership positions as library workers can manage and lead projects from a variety of roles.

Short Session Description (one line):

Library leaders must improve their capacity to engage and empower library workers and this session will identify strategies based on the soft skills leaders need to make their libraries places where people want to work.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

Librarianship has a leadership problem. Evidenced by a growing body of library literature on job dissatisfaction, supplemented by social media exchanges and conference programming, library workers are increasingly experiencing and reporting workplace disengagement. While there are multiple factors that contribute to library worker morale problems, such as working conditions or dysfunctional co-workers, there’s no denying that leaders, at every level in the library, must accept their share of responsibility for worker dissatisfaction. After introducing this problem of our profession’s leadership deficit and introducing one or two polls to gauge attendee experience with the problem of leadership deficit, this presentation will introduce three core areas for more human leadership:

  1. Approaching change with a new mindset
  2. Embracing empowerment over control
  3. Adopting self-aware and empathic leadership

The session will share five concrete soft-skill practices that any library leader can adopt to shift their style to human library leadership:

  1. Be human in your regular communication
  2. Be human in your feedback process
  3. Be human in helping people grow
  4. Be human in offering flexibility
  5. Make being a human library leader a habit

To summarize, this session will offer three segments:

  1. Frame the leadership failure/deficit problem in librarianship
  2. Introduce three core areas for human library leadership
  3. Share five soft-skill practices for library leadership

As a webinar presenter I seek to engage attendees with opportunities for participation through polling and chat room discussion.

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