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Lift Your Leader Voice - Nominate an OELMA Member for an Award

19 Feb 2024 9:41 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)
Lift Your Leader Voice - Nominate an OELMA Member for an Award

Carol A. Brey-Casiano, Director of Libraries, El Paso Public Library, outlined ten steps to being a great library leader in her article entitled “Leadership Qualities for Future Library Leaders.” 

  Step #1: Find a Good Mentor/BE a Good Mentor

  “We all want someone who will inspire us to be what   we know we could be” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  My   mentor, almost 30 years ago, was Kari Inglis, school librarian at Bishop Watterson High School (Columbus).  For 2023 award recipient, Amy Keister, she looks to OELMA members as her role models.  Amanda Brasfield, 2021 recipient of the OELMA Emerging Leader Award, says receiving the award was a jolt of inspiration. OELMA has connected me with many fantastic school librarians around Ohio and I am made better each day through their willingness to share and participate in our community.” Do you have a mentor?  Are you a good mentor to other school librarians?

Step #2: Learn How to Follow First

Sometimes you have to know how to follow the lead of others if you are to succeed. In the midst of renovating the school library, I often followed the lead of the students.  Yes, I’d taken any number of library management classes and had my own thoughts about redesigning the learning center, but it was in listening to the students’ voices - that’s where I got the best ideas.

Step #3: Be Visionary

Can you articulate a vision for your school library and then motivate others to share and accomplish that vision?  The most valuable lesson I learned during my twelve years at the suburban high school from which I retired, was collaborating on a strategic plan for the district’s school libraries.  Deb Logan provided the professional development and our district’s school librarians engaged parents, community members, academic librarians, and administrators in a year-long strategic planning process.  All voices were heard and we, as a team, “built bridges to what matters (theme)”

Step #4: Be a Good Servant

Being a leader is a humbling experience.  As Brey-Castano states: “You learn that while the buck may stop with you, it takes the work of every team member to be successful.”  Always say “Thank you.” Who do you thank in your building, in your district?

Step #5: Take Risks

Sound scary? It can be, but if you have a rationale for the decision, then others will listen.  School librarians are great at providing substantive rationales - think… what do we do when we purchase books for our collection?

Step #6: Take Care of Yourself

Being a leader takes stamina. Even if you don’t think you have time, exercise, rest, hydrate, etc. What do you do to take care of yourself?

Step #7: Maintain a Positive Attitude

Of the ten steps, this is the most difficult.  As a school librarian, who can we deliver hope to on any given day?  A student who needs a particular book?  A teacher who needs help creating a research project? An administrator who just needs a sounding board?

Step #8: Never Turn Down a Leadership Position

Yes, even if it’s to coordinate a building or district activity/event.  You have an opportunity to network AND learn about the inner workings of the building, the district, the association.  These experiences will be helpful as you consider taking on more leadership positions/roles.

Step #9: Learn How to Motivate People Effectively

It’s easy for us to just say, “Oh never mind, I’ll just do it myself.”  As Brey-Casiano says, “A truly great leader has to trust the people they are leading to do their best.”  How do you motivate your staff, your volunteers, your students to be the best they can be?

Step #10: Keep Your Sense of Humor

Brey-Casiano suggests keeping things in your office that make you laugh.  I had a desk drawer filled with stress balls and I had a colleague, Laura, whose quick wit made me laugh until my sides ached.

Leadership is ultimately about caring about the people around you - your students, your school community, your teachers, your administrators - and demonstrating that care.

To nominate yourself or a colleague, visit the OELMA website.  Read the criteria for the award in which you have an interest, complete the nomination form, and submit it by April 1, 2024, 11:59 p.m.  The award checklist will assist you in crafting the rationale for nomination.

The Awards Committee looks forward to receiving your nomination.  If you have questions, please reach out to

Sincerely the Awards Committee,

Lisa Gallagher

Heidi Fletcher

Casaundra Bronner

Kris Konik

Cheryl Lorson

Susan Yutzey

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