Librarianship in the 21st Century: Lessons in Leadership

Document Type


Publication Date

March 2010


Many of the challenges librarians face in the 21st century have existed for years and reflect the nature of higher education and society in the United States. One issue the presenters have observed is that librarians, like many educators, react to rapidly changing systems, pressures, economics, and technologies by “balancing” workloads and budgets and not by deeply reflecting on how to change strategies in order to integrate themselves more fully into academic curricula, prove the library’s value to administrators, and develop meaningful services and resources.

In order to thrive and survive, librarians must be proactive at their institutions in areas of governance, assessment, and teaching. Reacting to circumstances and environments is not a sustainable approach. The presenters will draw from their experiences at different institutions to illustrate successful examples of thriving in difficult situations and outline essential skills librarians must cultivate in the 21st century. Examples to be discussed include navigating curriculum development, university governance, academic quality improvement programs (AQIP), and scholarship in the digital age. The presenters will engage with the audience on relevant experiences and collectively address the question of how libraries can justify their existence in turbulent times.