Parallel Session 10

Parallel Session 10 – Fostering Leadership for Independence, Sustainability, and Progress

Moderator: Najmeh Shaghaei, University Library of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Location: Tassos Papadopoulos – Room 102 (1st Floor)

10.1) Transforming Te Tumu Herenga: A Library’s journey toward inclusivity, equity, and indigenous empowerment.

Presenter: Hester Mountifield, University of Auckland, New Zealand

In the dynamic landscape of university libraries, continual reflection and re-evaluation of traditions and services are paramount to fostering an environment that genuinely welcomes, includes, represents, and serves all community members. This paper presents the transformative journey of the University of Auckland Library (Aotearoa New Zealand), shifting from a traditional repository of physical materials to a vibrant learning space prioritising the needs of indigenous students.

Guided by its Vision and Strategy (2017-2021), Te Tumu Herenga | Libraries and Learning Services embarked on a trajectory to evolve from multiple physical locations, stand-alone services and just-in-case collection building to collections reflecting the unique place of the University and Aotearoa New Zealand in the Pacific, cohesive services and high-quality spaces catering to the diverse needs of indigenous and varied communities. Within five years, key accomplishments include the right-sizing of physical collections, consolidation of libraries, adoption of a service delivery model focused on diverse communities, restructuring of subject librarian roles and adopting functional teams employing staff from multiple professional backgrounds, leadership, cultural and indigenous development initiatives, and prioritisation of Māori and Pacific undergraduate students in service design and academic support programs.

Central to this transformation is the library’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi), aiming to eliminate barriers, promote equity, and instil a sense of belonging and empowerment for all individuals engaging with the library. By placing people at the forefront and collaborating with indigenous students, the library endeavours to visually represent cultural elements in its redeveloped physical spaces, embodying the mantra: “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata – What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.” This paper explores the strategies, challenges, and outcomes of this transformation, providing valuable insights for university libraries seeking to enhance inclusivity and equity.

10.2) Excellent libraries, virtuous leaders? A comparative exploration of state-of-the-art ethical excellence in research libraries

Presenter: Stephen Town, University of York, UK, United Kingdom

Becoming a state-of-the art research library might imply solely technological excellence, but it is apparent in our current period of critical global problems that ethical excellence is also increasingly required. Our divided societies have generated attacks on both libraries and research as truthful institutions. Research libraries must also face up to their own internal moral issues of respecting difference within their own workforces, learning from the management lessons of the pandemic, decolonising their collections, and in supporting and advocating open research. Ethical behaviour in this context demands more than a philosophical state-of-mind, but becomes a required practice resulting in wise action for any research library on behalf of its broader communities and society.

This paper reflects on the question of what kind of leadership should be exhibited within our organizations to achieve good research libraries with a positive impact on our institutions and beyond. Becoming a dynamic entity that evolves rapidly requires a firm grasp of ethical positioning to chart a sound course through both technological and social changes and challenges.

The paper describes research work towards an understanding of library virtue in relation to leadership and organization. The research reported follows on from the author’s PhD study on the organizational value of research libraries (2016). The study uses the lens of neo-Aristotelian virtue theory to explore the relationship between leadership and organizational character within the context of the university research library. This approach has apparently not been used before in consideration of research libraries, despite an expanding range of contemporary attention to virtue ethics within the broader philosophical and management literature. The Aristotelian idea of practical wisdom (phronesis) particularly has been shown to be an important concept and attribute for management, leadership, and professional practice (Kristjansson, 2024).

Qualitative data was collected during 2023 through ten semi-structured interviews with ‘elite’ University library directors in the UK and North America. Three interview areas focused the dialogue on

  • each director’s ethical formation;
  • their response to virtue theory as a framework for understanding leadership and library character;
  • the collection of cases of the use of practical wisdom (phronesis) to solve difficult problems at the strategic level.

These reflect gaps in the existing literature of organizational virtue and ethical leadership (Ames, 2021).

The qualitative data obtained has been thematically analysed, providing a range of insights into the moral groundings of research library directors, how ethical frameworks and ideas are incorporated into strategy and professional and service practice, and how strategic level difficult problems have been addressed. The conclusions suggest a set of the virtues considered important for research library leaders within university senior management contexts. Examples of and comparisons between the fourteen cases reported of difficult ethical problems faced by leaders will also be presented. The research findings are likely to be of significant value to understanding how ethics inform leadership practice, and may also have an impact on ethical components of research library leadership educational and formational programmes.

10.3) Nurturing Vision, Nurturing Future

Presenter: Tereza Smilauerova, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic

In many Central European universities, the conception and treatment of doctoral students are still considerably poorer than in companies. While many enterprises recognize the value of personal growth and motivation of employees, and encourage it with their resources, those universities – in terms of institutional support and emphasis – regard PhD students rather as machines-in-making that, given the information, hard skills and finances, should produce required results. This obsolete conception of a doctoral student then often contributes to high dropout rates both during and after their studies.

To combat the concept, the Central Library of Brno University of Technology has employed a new emphasis within the flagship course, Scientific Publishing A to Z, which highlights students’ own vision and motivation within the academic career. The course introduces blending the topics of professional academic skills with teaching and mentoring motivation and vision in order to connect the means with the motivation to learn and improve them.

Students’ reactions after the two pilot terms suggest growth in academic knowledge and skills, as well as nurturing and deepening one’s concept of science and a scientist as an active contributor to society. Moreover, students commented in hindsight that while they originally considered the topic of vision and character growth of not great importance for their scientific career and doctoral studies, they started to see it as a rather essential pillar for their work as the course progressed.

The paper will present the context of doctoral education and mentoring, followed by the design of the course together with students’ reactions and feedback, and will conclude with suggested steps in future.

53rd LIBER Annual Conference