Developing Library Leadership to Strengthen Community Services

A significant number of the Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL’s) more than 1,500 employees are nearing retirement. To prepare for this eventuality, LAPL sought to create a development plan that would foster creative, forward-looking leaders who can leverage new capabilities and improve community responsiveness. To address these goals, FUSE Executive Fellow Julie Lamba designed a robust, all-staff leadership program called “Take the Lead” that goes beyond typical executive-focused models.

Julie facilitated the selection of six organization-wide leadership values. She advised three rotations of a 20-person planning team that launched a series of programs, including a peer facilitator network of leadership ambassadors; a live, bimonthly interview series regularly attended by more than 250 staff; an internal mentoring program; and a recognition toolkit. Julie also implemented a coaching application for all LAPL supervisors, powered by artificial intelligence and used by more than 120 managers and executives. 86% of LAPL staff now agree that the library has a shared definition of leadership, compared with 16% in the first year. Nearly 90% believe the library provides staff with opportunities to grow as leaders, compared to 55 percent in the first year. Julie’s work established sustainable programs that will prepare library leaders for the challenges of the future and better position them to serve the evolving needs of the community.

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