Academic Library Leadership and Paths to the Directorship


Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours are spent developing and teaching (or attending) leadership institutes, workshops, and other professional development opportunities for academic librarians that are often not founded on evidence-based practices, nor may they properly targeted to the professionals who would best be served. Building on an American Libraries-designated Notable Dissertation, using quantitative and qualitative data from all baccalaureate- and master’s-granting institutions in the United States, this session focuses on what new datasets reveal about academic library directors and their leadership development experiences in their last few positions. Surprising results emerge from the data, which have important implications for academic librarians interested in career trajectories leading to administrative leadership positions. The data indicate that what specialization librarians choose (based on department) has an important relationship with leadership skill development in specific areas, and data reveal how leadership skill development opportunities involve (or fail to involve) entry- and mid-level academic library professionals. The data also suggest consequences for how race and gender may factor into leadership development opportunities and the academic library director pipeline. Attendees will be able to identify themselves and where they stand in relation to crucial skill development opportunities, will learn what positions appear to best position them for the path to the academic library directorship, and will learn how factors of race and gender may impact their relationships with leadership development skills.


Leadership, Libraries, Directorship


Educational Organization and Leadership


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Dr. Colleen S. Harris
    • Digital & Data Services Librarian, John Spoor Broome Library, California State University Channel islands
    • Dr. Colleen S. Harris serves as the Digital & Data Services Librarian on the faculty of California State University Channel Islands, where she also lectures in Freedom & Justice Studies. Previously an informaiton literacy coordinator, and head of access services before that, she holds the MS in Library and Information Science, an MFA in Writing, an MA in Mythological Studies, and an EdD in Learning and Leadership. Dr. Harris is editor of 'So You Want to be an Academic Library Director?" (ALA Editions, 2017) and various research articles appearing in Journal of Academic Librarianship, Library Review, journal fo Access Services, and various others. her research and practical interests involve academi clibrary leadership, and academic library involvement in promoting student and faculty scholarsihp.