Engage, Empower, Equip: Transformative Change with The Lilead Project | SLJ Summit 2018

Lilead Fellows and Mentors share the not-so-secret keys to leadership success.

When Ann Carlson Weeks served as director of libraries and information services at Chicago Public Schools, she learned firsthand that being district supervising librarian can be isolating. Years later, in 2012 and when she was professor of the practice at the University of Maryland, she became part of a team that launched the first survey of district supervisors since the 1960s. The goal? To better understand their challenges, roles, responsibilities, and demographics. A second survey followed in 2014.

From left to right: Christie Kodama, Jeffrey DiScala,
and Ann Carlson Weeks.

Among the important takeaways from the surveys was that many district supervisors had no training in the professional development that their jobs required. The Lilead Project, which Weeks has been part of since its inception in 2011, aims to remedy that—and transform the profession in the process.

Taking the stage with Weeks last Sunday at the SLJ Summit’s “Leadership Secrets from the Lilead Project” were Lilead co-principal investigators Jeffrey DiScala, assistant professor in the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, and Christie Kodama, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland.

The “secrets” aren’t so secret, suggested DiScala and Kodama—their goal of transformational change is based on Kotter’s eight-Step process. Lilead is now providing a second cohort of 18 librarians from around the country with long-term professional development throughout the year during in-person and online meetings. The project seeks to empower a group of fellows to think differently and deeply, take risks and chance failure, and develop the skills that will help solve problems and document solutions. In addition, the project team wants participants to think big—and focus on students, not budgets.

For librarians to become agents of change in their schools and districts, the essential first steps are aligning school library goals with district goals, tailoring and providing evidence of the library’s work for stakeholders, becoming part of the larger conversations taking place in their communities, and, of course, always having that two-minute elevator speech ready to go.

Attendees show their strengths during
Lilead session. 

Believing that active participation, reflection, and modeling are essential aspects of PD, the Lilead participants and their mentors fanned out across the conference floor to engage Summit attendees in an eye-opening, lightning-fast session of their own. In small groups, they asked conference goers to jot down three issues they face at work, reflect on solutions, consider which of “six thinking hats ” (or strengths) they wear, and who in their work locations (perhaps donning a different hat) would be an essential ally in advancing solutions to the issues they noted. (To discover which hat you wear most comfortably, watch as DiScala models all six in an amusing video.)

Not a Lilead fellow? The project also offers online courses for librarians “on any level who are looking to hone their leadership skills and work toward lasting transformational change for their students, schools, and districts during the 2018-2019 school year.”

Author Image
Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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