Innovative Leadership Fellow-Karen Pickard-Four

I really should be packing for New York, but I’ve decided to post this instead. The Innovation Leadership Program (ILP) team, which includes residents, Jacquie Welsh and Mary Abler, Library Foundation staff members, Rebecca Shehee and Dawn Coppin, the head of Central Library, Giovanna Mannino, as well as ILP Fellow, Joyce Cooper, and myself, are travelling to New York to liaise with key members of the New York Public Library (NYPL) staff and Foundation.

Some background about me: after over twenty years as a small business entrepreneur, I began my career as a librarian. I received my MLIS in May, 2006 and began my career as a Young Adult Librarian at the Sherman Oaks Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). After four fabulous years as a YA librarian, I became an acting manager and spent the next three years at three different branches. In turn, I worked with three different patron bases, friends groups, staff, buildings, and stakeholders. In March, I was appointed as manager of the Studio City Branch—among the busiest in the system.

In January of 2013, I applied for and was appointed as an Innovative Leadership Program Fellow. I am now committed to working closely with a resident and the rest of the team for the next two years. My hopes for the program are far reaching – creating an environment where new leaders are cultivated, encouraged, and supported so that they and the profession can flourish. Yes, it’s not all about me!

Jacquie was at Studio City for three months and although our time passed by quickly, we made an effort to conduct our daily debriefings. We experimented with innovation at the branch on many different levels including staff interaction, customer service, E-learning, outreach, and much more. I continue to learn a lot from Jacquie and cannot overstate the value of collaborating and communicating with someone on such a level. It is energizing! Balancing the responsibilities of my new position and that of the ILP is challenging and exciting.

As the rotations switch—Jacquie is at Central working with the multi-talented and Zen management master, Joyce, and Mary is with me at Studio—I can already see that my relationship with Mary will blossom and, together, we will discover what the heck it means to be 21st Century Librarians.

We travel to New York City to learn and share with NYPL, to seek innovative solutions to best serve our patrons, and to strengthen our relationship with team members. The familiar refrain “libraries are changing” is one that we hear constantly, but what does it really mean to librarians, staff, and patrons? Stay tuned because we’re going to find out!

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