This is part of a series of Session Notes from grantees who have received Professional Development grants from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Each grantee will share their professional development experience and include tips and other resources from the workshop or class. Grantees had their choice of an article for the Compendium, a webinar or a podcast. This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Beth Milanak

Beth Milanak

by Beth Milanak,
Kittanning Public Library

Great People Make Great Libraries. Know Yourself, Grow Yourself, and Take Your Library With You! David Bendekovic president, The B. A. David Company and the proud founder of PALS: Pennsylvania Library Association’s Academy for Leadership Studies, was the presenter at this one-day session.

I chose this training to learn more about myself and how to become a stronger leader in our library and community. I had heard about the seminar through one of our district meetings.  One of the directors at the meeting had attended PALS in the past and spoke highly of it, and if given the chance, encouraged us to go.

Before the training we completed exercises, such as taking personality tests, writing down our core values, and finding our leadership orientation. Here is a website for a free personality test.   My four letter personality code is ISFJ-The Protector.  Famous people that share this personality type are Jimmy Stewart and Mother Theresa. My leadership orientation is structural, which means I like rationality, analysis, logic, facts, and data.

It takes different leadership orientations to make a well-rounded team in your library.  The four different types are structural, human resource, symbolic, and political.

The second half of the session dealt with a library’s values and mission. It’s a good idea to get together with your staff and decide what is important to your library. Ask questions such as:  why do you do what you do, what is our mission, and what is our purpose, why do we exist?  “Choosing to act on ‘what matters’ is the choice to live a passionate existence…Acting on what matters is a stance whereby we are accountable for the world around us and are willing to pursue what we define as important.” (Peter Block)

Take your library out into the community, move from ‘promote and hope’ to building relationships.  A great tool kit to use for taking your library with you can be found at Libraries Transforming Communities, on  ALA’s website.

Recommended reads are Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, and Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.

Once you know yourself and why you get up in the morning, then you can focus on your strengths to become the person you set out to be.  You don’t need a title to be a leader.