Book Review: A Leadership Primer for New Librarians

A Leadership Primer for New Librarians.
Suzanne Byke and Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing. 2009.

leadership primer book cover image

Written by two librarians who graduated long enough ago to have begun moving up the career ladder but recently enough (in 2005 and 2003, respectively) to know what it’s like just starting out professionally, this book is geared towards both to “persons still in graduate school and early-career librarians” and hopes to help new librarians work with more experienced librarians to guide the profession into the future.

The book is divided into broadly defined chapters: “What you didn’t learn in your LIS program,” “Self-promotion,” etc. and each chapter concludes with a set of exercises that aim to help the reader come to an increased awareness of his/her own innate leadership qualities and discover avenues for growth and advancement. Exercise examples include reviewing professional journals to see if there are areas one would like to expand upon in an article, and scheduling a meeting with a supervisor to see if there are upcoming changes that one can help facilitate. Each chapter includes references to literature both inside and outside the library field, as well as advice that is practical (how to negotiate) and more general (how to be a good follower).

Additionally, the book includes short essays from other new librarians (those with less than ten years experience). Many of these librarians (such as Emerging Leader alumna Kathryn Munson ‘09 and current NMRT Vice-President/President-Elect Linda Crook) have already proven themselves to be leaders in the profession and provide both “advice from the field” and additional perspectives on how to succeed in the profession.

The authors’ main point is that one can be a leader even if not a manager, an extrovert, or even a professional librarian. The book closes with a “toolkit” of ideas for making the most of one’s current situation: identify and follow through on improvements to your organization, try to learn as much as you can before you move to another position, etc.

This book is highly recommended for new librarians and library school students alike; the former will find ideas for leveraging a first or second professional position into one of influence and the latter will get a head start over their peers –particularly useful in the current economy!

Reviewed by: Megan Hodge. Megan is currently the Circulation Supervisor for Randolph-Macon College. She is an ALA Emerging Leader for 2011.