These books are recommended by the guests of the Library Leadership Podcast.

Miguel Figueroa

“In the past year one of the books that’s really stuck with me is this book called When Strangers Meet by Kio Stark. She based this book from a TED Talk that she had given. It really looks at how people might meet and interact with each other and spark conversations, especially when it’s conversations with complete strangers, which is the bulk of our time out and about in public as we often encounter people that we don’t know. I thought the book was really interesting in terms of how we confront each other and have sometimes difficult conversations. Often when you’re starting from being strangers it’s going to be an awkward or difficult conversation—even how we talk across some of our issues of diversity, and people who are fundamentally different, or the other from us. So, I really like that.

It reminded me in a lot of ways of two other books that I really like—this book called Difficult Conversations, that was by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. It was all about how to talk about the things that matter most to us, that sometimes can spark difficult conversations, that are, really, important for us to navigate through.

Then, there was this other book I read several years ago that stuck with me for years. It was called The Cost of Bad Behavior, and it was by two researchers. I think they’re from Harvard, or were at Harvard at the time—Christine Pearson, and Christine Porath. They really looked at what are some of the breakdowns, especially internal, within staff that create negative outcomes for the larger organization. There are subtle things that we do to each other that limit not only the organization’s outcomes but our own satisfaction with our work life and ultimately, that have a negative effect on each other. We all have to go home and we carry some of that baggage back with us.

So, most of those are all about how people connect to each other and what I usually fall back on is that it’s a person-to-person relationship that really sparks change and innovation.”

Maureen Sullivan

“Whenever I’m asked that question, especially in the last couple of years since it’s been available—the first thing that comes to mind is The Strength-Based Leadership book that arose out of the work with StrengthsFinderwhich started with some of the research that was done by, I think his name is, Donald Clifton at the Gallup Institute.

Strength-Based Leadership is a more recent resource. 

The reason I like that as much as I do is that the self-assessment inventory is one that you get to by purchasing or being given a copy of the book, where you have instructions inside to go to a website and complete the assessment. You immediately get a report, and in fact, every year that I work with this I discover that they are continuing to improve and enhance the information that comes as a result of completing the assessment. I just used it with the Virginia Library Association, about two months ago, and several of the participants were coming in with three or four different reports all of which they found to be helpful.

The other advantage of Strength-Based Leadership over StrengthsFinder is it gives you your results of your key areas of strength in a construct of four different aspects of what they define to be leadership. So, your five are displayed across the four different aspects. Because it’s a book, it is not that expensive. One of the selling points, for me, is when it’s going to be used in an organization, there’s the possibility of purchasing the books at a discount, and making them available to individuals.

I’m also an eager reader of the Harvard Business Review. I have both a print and an online subscription to it. Whenever it comes in the mail, I just sit for a few minutes and look at it, because it seems to me that in the last several years every issue has had several articles that have the potential for being helpful in a library context.

I read the literature and the results of research on leadership through the lens of, what is going to be most useful, has the greatest potential for benefiting the leadership practice of people who work in our field. Also with that in mind, it’s important to keep abreast of the publications that are being produced by individuals who work in our field. I have two that I would particularly recommend. The first one is entitled Crucible Moments. Stephen Bell, who writes the Bell Tower column in Library Journal, is the editor of this. The subtitle is Inspiring Library Leadership. While many of the articles were written by people who are from the academic library field primarily, there’s also a really wonderful article in here by Peter Bromberg, a public librarian.

The other one that I would highly recommend is The LITA Leadership Guide: The Librarian as Entrepreneur, Leader, and Technologist. This is a series of essays edited by Carl Antonucci and Sharon Clapp. Both of whom work at Central Connecticut State University. 

And, there are others. There’s one on managing from the middle. I just would highly recommend people in our field watching the publications that come out. The LLAMA division of ALA has a regular publication, in a journal format, and that one often has really useful articles for individuals.”

Felton Thomas

“I was thinking about this because there are so many really good leadership books, and I always struggle to talk just about one. But, I think one book that I would recommend would be Resonant Leadership. I’m in a PhD program right now at Simmons College. One of the first books that we were introduced to in that program was Resonant Leadership. It really speaks to us as a leader—how you become more balanced with yourself. This is an important part of it when folks like me, and many other leaders who are driven —it’s very easy for you to get out of balance.

Resonant Leadership speaks to how we stay in balance, how we think about that life/family balance, how we work through our own individual work balance that we have to work through. Those are the really important parts of ourselves that somehow, sometimes, we lose. Because as you’re trying, and trying, and are in it—or can be an ambitious person, you start to really let work take over that time that you might need to really balance yourself where you want to be.”

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