Adriane Herrick Juarez has been the host of Library Leadership Podcast since 2017 and has had the opportunity to interview many guests who have shared their ideas, innovations, and strategic insights in the profession. This year, we had a number of listeners reach out to us asking to hear more about Adriane, why she started the show, what she has learned, and any secrets of success she can share about leadership. As 2020 comes to a close, this episode shares a few of Adriane’s thoughts. Thanks to all of our listeners for their support. We will be back next month with more conversations from outstanding guests. Enjoy the show!


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Hello, my name is Adriane Herrick Juarez. I am the host of Library Leadership Podcast where we talk about libraries, and leadership, and speak with guests who share their ideas, innovations, and strategic insights into the profession.

I started my podcast in 2017, and since then have personally interviewed dozens of library leaders. Each one has been generous with their time, and energy, and their willingness to share with me everything that goes into leading libraries. 

Today I’m here to share with you the secret to success for being a library leader. And, the secret is—there is no secret. The truth is there’s no secret to being a library leader. And, there’s no one way to be a success in our profession because no two library leaders are identical. 

Every leader I have spoken to on my podcast has shared a unique style, a unique focus, unique projects, and perspectives, and a unique path that has led them to the positions they hold, the projects they champion, and the ideas they share. Some have won awards. Some have spearheaded dynamic projects. Some have taken teams to unprecedented levels of success. Some have led organizations with hundreds of employees. Others do a lot with a little in small organizations. Yet, each one is a success. And, each one cares deeply about libraries and wants to help others discover the joy of what they offer.

So, I want to start by telling you a little about myself. I’ve been a book lover my whole life. Stacks of picture books filled our home when I was a small child. Summer afternoons visiting the book mobile, where I grew up, were just about the best thing I could imagine. My true love of libraries though, began in elementary school where I first became a library helper. Mrs. Echols, our school librarian, started me down the path to where I am today. Mrs. Echols liked things tidy. One of my jobs was to organize all of the picture books by letter, then by size, and color. Can you see that in your mind? All of those book spines on the shelf by the first letter of the author’s last name, then by height, small ones on one end of the shelf, big ones on the other. And as much as possible, all of the blue ones together, all of the red ones, and all of the yellow ones grouped in an array of reading possibilities.

I would sit on the floor cross-legged, facing the low children’s shelves, making sure every spine was evenly pulled to the front. Every item was where it was meant to be, that the rise and fall of each shelf flowed like a colorful wave. When I was done I would sit back, take a deep breath, Haaa, and take in the simple satisfaction of those books organized in a way that made you want to approach them, touch them, take them off the shelf, open the pages, and get completely lost in a story. 

Now, librarians have come a long way since then, and so have I. But, I never left libraries. And, I never forgot about Mrs. Echols, who was the first library leader that I knew. Mrs. Echols cared deeply about libraries and wanted to help others discover the joy of what they had to offer, which she did for me. So, my message to you today is that there’s no secret for success to be a library leader. And, that you are already a leader. 

Question #1: So, why did I start a podcast? 04:43 

Well, I’ve been a leader in libraries for many years now. I came up through the ranks of public libraries from an early age. Of course, I didn’t start out as a leader. But I watched and listened, and had many opportunities to learn from those who came before me. 

My first real boss in the library world recently retired after sixty years of service. Imagine what one knows after all of that experience. Imagine what one could impart if only someone asked. The reason I started a podcast is because I wanted to ask leaders in libraries what they knew. While having a love for libraries and sharing that with others is vital, it’s also vital to have high standards and expectations for ourselves as leaders to be effective in delivering inspired library services.

I’d like you to take a moment right now to think about two things. First, think of a time you did something successful. Next, think of a time you did something that failed. It’s not hard. We all have those moments we’re proud of. We all have those moments we wish we could forget. But in both, there are sparks of learning.

If someone asked you about them, I imagine you could impart information that would help them learn from your experience. If you were a library leader, you would be able to share what you had learned over time, by trial and error, to help others deliver exemplary library services and become stronger library leaders. 

Question #2: If there are tidbits of learning everywhere in our experiences, how can we who want to grow in the field, best learn about library leadership, especially in our new COVID world? 06:33 

In libraries there are many ways to learn and develop as professionals. We go to conferences, read journal articles, attend webinars, engage in research, take professional trainings, get degrees, pour over books, and more. 

Yet as I came up through the libraries, I often found that while all of these things are important and needed, it was often the conversations with others in the field that gave me the most profound ah-hah moments. 

For example, I might go to a professional conference and return to my home library brimming with innovative ideas from all of the sessions I had attended. But as I started thinking and talking about what I wanted to implement, or take forward with me, I realized much of that had been generated by conversations I’d had with others at the conference. 

Think about a time you bumped into a colleague you hadn’t seen in awhile who told you about something inspiring they were working on, or joined in a conversation after a presentation as participants shared excitement about what they’d just heard, and added information from their own experiences.

These moments are inspiring. Ideas can come from anywhere. And, conversations are powerful learning opportunities. So, that’s why I started a podcast. Twice a month I get to speak with innovative leaders in the library profession. And, I get to share those conversations with all of you. There’s nothing more immediate than on-demand, engaging programming that you can tune into on your speakers, or in your earbuds when you want and where you want.

Library Leadership Podcast gives you firsthand glimpses into what’s going on right now in the library world. None of us would think of calling up a different librarian across the world on a regular basis just to say, Hey, can you drop everything for a half an hour or so, and tell me what you’re doing right now that I can learn from? Yet, by tuning into Library Leadership Podcast that’s just what you’re going to hear.

Since I started the podcast I have learned a great deal. While caring deeply about libraries and wanting to help others discover the joy of what they offer is the foundation of being a library leader, there are many concrete ways that each of us needs to develop to make that possible. When we each strive to develop as leaders, and libraries, everyone benefits.

When I talk about leaders, and libraries, I do not only mean those at the top, but anyone who has ever led a project, chaired a committee, developed programs, implemented policies, and procedures, or led communities in understanding what libraries are all about. We all lead in libraries in one way or another. When we conscientiously enhance our growth in this area we work better with colleagues. We create effective systems of operation. We communicate in a way that is understandable. We take informed actions. We stay in touch with the latest developments in our field. And in so doing, we benefit everyone we serve, and insure a strong future for the profession.

So, today I would like to share with you a number of lessons I have learned from the podcast that will benefit you directly. And hopefully, will give you a call to action as you develop your own ever-changing practice as a library leader.

First of all, it is important for you to develop your own leadership path. Realize this is an ongoing process. The moment you think you have learned everything you need to know as a leader is the moment you need to learn more.

Leadership is a conscious choice, and should be actively developed by each one of us. We must take a global perspective in this day and age, constantly learning from a broad stream of resources. Take best practices, trends, and insightful perspectives toward position actions in your own leadership. Know yourself. Assess your strengths and weaknesses and learn to fill in the gaps. 

Develop a daily leadership ritual and draw upon learning resources from top experts in our field, and even sometimes theories outside of our field. Know that leadership is a path that you are taking consciously. And, don’t be surprised when challenges get in your way. When that happens, work to connect to good ideas and good people. 

Top library leaders are focused and in tune to positive solutions. Everyone has setbacks. Treat those as learning opportunities. People respect and value those parts of us that have developed through trial and error.

Listen. Listening generates a broad perspective, and generates informed actions, creates safety for yourself, and others. Seek mastery in areas that will help your effectiveness and provide you with needed expertise. Distill your knowledge into simple explanations. You cannot lead others if they cannot see where you’re taking them. Be nimble and open to change, because that is a constant.

While our minds might think linearly, the world does not work that way. So, be open to a variety of pathways to success. Sometimes questions are the answers. So again, remember to listen. Listening generates community. Listening generates perspective and development, and listening can take you down your own personal path to leadership success. We are fortunate that in these times technology can help us do that. It is my hope that by listening to Library Leadership Podcast it will help you in ways that hold meaning for you, and ultimately help others discover the joy of what libraries have to offer, just as I experienced when I was a young library helper.

Question #3: So, what will you learn when you tune into Library Leadership Podcast? 13:23 

Just to name a few, you will listen to leaders like Ramiro Salazar, Director of the San Antonio Public Library, and immediate past-president of the American Public Library Association, share about leadership in unprecedented times. 

Michelle Ornat, Deputy Director of Public Services for the San Jose Public Library in California, talks about personal leadership. Patrick Bodily, Library Director of Independence Public Library in Oregon shares how to create effective annual reports. Mariam Kahn, author of the book, Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries teaches us about planning for the unplanned. And, Ginger H. Williams, Associate Dean for Academic Engagement and Public Services at Wichita State University in Kansas, discusses the mentoring process. 

Each library leader that I interview on the show brings something different. And each of us with an intentional plan for leadership growth, will learn something every time we tune in. We enjoy getting comments from our listeners who share their thoughts about the show, such as this one saying, The podcast disseminates resourceful and relatable information for delivering leading visions in this diversifying, and ever-changing world beyond library management.

And another saying, Great interviews covering a wide variety of topics, and good for picking up skills and ideas. This makes us pleased that people are finding something in the content that is personally useful to them.

As I speak to you today, we are in the time of COVID-19. What we did not know when we started this podcast was that new forms of media, such as ours, would be important in building connections and bridging the separation among us that the virus has created. We do not feel so alone if we are able to tune in and hear the voices of those in our profession speaking, almost directly to us. 

I am grateful to everyone who so generously contributes to make the show possible, so that we all have access to professional conversations, and especially so, at a time when without them we would feel far more isolated.

In closing, I would invite you to create your own personal leadership path, one that holds meaning for you. There is no secret. And there is no one way, just dedicated people finding their way to success, utilizing resources that work for them to benefit libraries. And then sharing those with others, so that ultimately we all help others discover the joy of what libraries have to offer, and keep our profession strong for a long time to come.

Listening to vibrant conversations with top leaders in the field is a great way to start. Enjoy the show.

We would like to thank the Park City Library for their dedicated support of this show. The opinions expressed on this show are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of Library Leadership Podcast, or our sponsors.