Humility & liaison

I’ve never seen my librarian role as being a leader of clients but for a long time I’ve seen it as a partnership with clients (both academic & student) & library colleagues. More than once I have been told that leading academics is the way I should see it & I’ve often worked with librarians who embrace the concept of liaison librarian as leader of academic clients but I just couldn’t see it for my own practice.

The partnership understanding of, & approach to, the role probably came to the fore of my practice about ten years in when I finally started coming to the view that librarianship is about people creating & sharing knowledge rather than about information. A partnership approach is also consistent with strong teamwork which, when genuinely applied, is incredibly useful in librarianship.

A few years ago I bought a book (Tom Harley’s Standing tall: confidence, teamwork and learning to lead) for that part of the collection I was developing for first year engineering & spatial sciences undergrads who were started on a journey to develop  a set of generic attributes including strong teamwork skills. I added it to the collection because it wasn’t an academic treatment of the subject ( we had so very many of those), but a successful leader talking to boys & young men about teamwork, leading & intelligent following. Although Harley wrote the book for boys and young men, I thought that it was a quick & valuable read for anyone, especially the non-readers who were well represented in the cohort & the ‘over the top busy’ who were practically everyone in the cohort.

The book also spoke to me as someone who, in the team context, saw myself as a critically thinking follower – a role that I think is much under-rated in workplace teams these days. So, yes I have to admit that there probably was some confirmation bias operating when I chose the book for the collection 😉 This morning Ockham’s Razor got me thinking a bit about leadership again, but from a different perspective – humility as the core of leading.

This eleven minute talk was given by an expert & trainer in leadership from UNSW, Tom Frame. Frame’s talk has also got me thinking about partnership & its possible relationship to strong leadership & humility in leadership. And, as I’m thinking about the factors that influence liaison for info lit, I’m wondering if there’s something here to inspire the consideration of another factor.


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