Taking the Lead

How can public libraries support new migrants, or cross the generational divide with the clever use of social media? These are just two of the questions underpinning a five month action research and leadership development enterprise called Taking the Lead, an initiative of the State Library of NSW involving 20 public librarians from across the state. After two intensive workshops and five months of collaborative research, the four project teams  presented their findings, products and insights to an audience of NSW public library managers on 5 October 2011. The program focused on:

  • advocacy – how to articulate ideas, perceptions and feelings to different audiences and different kinds of learners
  • negotiation – how to deal with tricky situations, especially those involving people
  • presentation – standing up and standing out in different contexts and different ways.

Program participants on steps at State Library of NSW

But it’s the project work that has been the triumph of this program. The four project teams, with the help of project mentors, have done some phenomenal work. Each team had it own ‘brand’ name and logo, designed by Chia Moan. Through regular tele-conferences, meetings and the use of wikis, they researched their area thoroughly, interviewed key people, conducted surveys, and even produced videos and short animations. The areas were:

  • Transformers – how to motivate people and lead change in today’s public libraries
  • Bridge Builders – connecting with different communities in new ways; non-English speaking elders, recent migrants and schoolkids
  • Missing Link – how to encourage adults aged 25 – 45 to use their public library, particularly men
  • Tech Tasters – how can public libraries take advantage of social media, and can they afford not to? It’s easier now thanks to the Tech Tasters’ Social Media Starter Kit for Libraries.

State Library of NSW
Annie Talvé and Chia Moan (2011)