Leading Libraries: Transforming library leadership

What is Leading Libraries?

Leading Libraries is a 30-month leadership development programme for public libraries.

The programme is generously funded by the Arts Council as part of their National Lottery Transforming Leadership programme, with additional funding from Libraries Connected and support in-kind from CILIP. 

Birmingham Leadership Institute have been selected to deliver this programme. The institute is part of University of Birmingham and is at the forefront of the research and development of leadership practice. 

Why do we need Leading Libraries?

People who use public libraries come from all parts of the community. However, our workforce at almost every level, simply fails to reflect this diversity, when it comes to people from global majority communities, people with disabilities and women in leadership roles.

This matters in an increasingly diverse and divided society where public libraries have a key role in valuing all individuals, representing and respecting communities, and bringing people together.

Leading Libraries aims to harness the talent of these underrepresented groups through a 30-month learning and mentoring programme which values their talents and skills.

We want to develop innovative, entrepreneurial library workers who will have the confidence and the vision to lead teams in tough times and who actively represent the communities they serve.

What will the programme provide?

We have recruited 15 library services to participate in the project and the Birmingham Leadership Institute will work with these services to:

  • Provide training and mentoring development for their heads of service.
  • Identify one emerging leader from each library service to receive training and to initiate, deliver and evaluate their own leadership-focused project for their service, which has local, regional or national impact.
  • Select two workers in each of the 15 library services to receive mentoring from the emerging leaders as well as training.
  • Develop an online course to ensure that libraries across the UK are able to access leadership development resources.

Each service will commit £2000 over the course of the programme to support the work of their emerging leader.

Which libraries will take part in the programme?

The following 15 library services are taking part in the programme:

  1. Bolton
  2. Buckinghamshire
  3. Cambridgeshire
  4. Cumbria
  5. Dorset
  6. Hammersmith and Fulham
  7. Inspire Nottinghamshire
  8. Kirklees
  9. Lambeth
  10. Norfolk
  11. North Tyneside
  12. Redbridge
  13. Staffordshire
  14. Surrey
  15. Tower Hamlets

The libraries applied to take part and were selected for their understanding of the challenges of achieving diversity in their local environment and their commitment to drive diversity and inclusion in leadership across their entire library service.

Where are we now?

As the planned programme involved regular meetings in person, we've had to revise the programme completely. However, the value of meeting together and networking to share learning is fundamental to the programme so we put library services that are near to each other in groups of three. These groups will meet virtually and in person if local conditions allow.

All training from the Institute has been moved online as well as peer group networking. However, we are still hoping to have two in-person meetings next year, should restrictions allow. 

We are also delighted to confirm that Birmingham City University are working with us to evaluate the programme.

How can I find out more?

To find out more about Leading Libraries, please email: info@librariesconnected.org.uk

Leading Libraries is run in partnership with CILIP and funded by Arts Council England as part of their National Lottery Transforming Leadership programme.