Report: The Renewal Colloquium at Library Leadership Ohio (July 2021)

In late July I led  The Renewal Colloquium virtually for Library Leadership Ohio (LLO).  With support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library Leadership Ohio is a joint effort of OhioNet and the State Library of Ohio and is designed to “define and inspire…leadership skills and potential.” This year’s cohort had 47 members (congratulations!), and the Renewal Colloquium was one of several virtual meetings the group attended throughout their 4-week program.

Event attendees are offered an opportunity to take two surveys: 

  • Pre-Colloquium Questionnaire (basic demographics and impetus for joining the event)
  • Low-Morale Experience Survey (exploring basic markers of a low-morale experience)

At the end of the event, attendees are also offered a chance to evaluate the Colloquium.

Following is a selection of data from the surveys and the evaluation (quantitative queries show majority responses only).

Pre-Colloquium Questionnaire Highlights

  • Represented areas of practice
    • 31% Reference and Instruction
  • Career length
    • 34% 10 years or more


Word cloud reflecting cohort’s responses to sharing 3-5 adjectives describing their leadership style.

Anticipated skills or goals to cultivate:

“How to boost employee morale and to learn the why and how employees can suffer from low morale.”

“I would like to learn more about leading outside of a designated leadership role, and (if I can add a second goal) how to operate and support coworkers and managers in an organization with a toxic personality in a leadership position.”

“What types of leadership styles work best for most people (if you’re working with a diverse group of personalities and work styles)”

“I would like to become better at saying no when appropriate, or only saying yes when I’m sure I can without completely throwing myself under the bus.”

“I hope to be better able to take action when I need to and set boundaries. The “take action” part is what I am most concerned with.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Have you experienced low morale?
    • 76% Yes
  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 46% 1 – 3 years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 30%  Library supervisors or managers
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 38% Emotional
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • 19% Frustration
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 15% Uncertainty & Mistrust
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • 18% Decreased professional engagement

Colloquium Evaluation Report Highlights

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“The suggestions on leadership styles that help combat low morale were helpful/validating.”

“How librarians are expected to see our daily abuses as “tiger stripes” rather than the cuts that they are.”

“Basically, this gave me the vocabulary I needed to describe any of a number of college library workplace situations I’ve been in in the past.”

“Public libraries being blamed for social contexts. I’ve never heard a professional say it out loud. Thank you!”

“…I also appreciate the focus on the extra factors affecting BIPOC librarians and how we can all be more aware of the privileges inherent in whiteness.”

“Resist urgency!”

Share how attending this Colloquium may influence your daily or long-term library practice:

“Made me think more about how the enabling systems play into promoting low morale and how to avoid these things.” I am currently experiencing an Authoritarian + Laissez Faire leader at the top of our organization, so today provided coping mechanisms for me to help my staff deal with that misalignment. I gained tools to help manage this situation.”

“I am definitely going to be looking into Trauma formed leadership more – that is how I want to lead.”

“I think this information will help me to become a more actively (vs. passively) compassionate leader–I have new concrete ideas for taking care of my team and recognizing their needs.”

“I realized two things- I’m in a low-morale environment now, but that I can do something about it (even though I’m not currently a manager). I also learned that if/when I become one, I think I’d have a pretty strong tendency to be a laissez-faire manager and label it empathetic leadership. I now know those are very different, and to steer away from my propensity toward laissez-faire leadership!”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“I plan to take steps to help prevent burnout for my staff by focusing on their health and well-being, and by modeling more realistic work behaviors.”

“I’m going to screw up my courage and talk to HR, even though I’m not quite sure they’ll do anything OR that they won’t turn around and tell the offender. It’s still worth it for the people around me.”

“Fighting it. Talking with staff and trying to figure out where it’s stemming from and trying to help fix the problem. NOT JUST BANDAIDING it.”

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“I wanted some more time focusing on how to… handle is not the right word, but cope, maybe? or confront?… abuse in the workplace.”

“I would have like to hear a bit more about self-preservation.”

“More about what to DO in/about situations. The answers to questions at the end made me hungry for more!”

Thanks so much to the LLO cohort for their engagement, as well as Nancy Kirkpatrick for inviting me, and to Shelly Miller and Erin Kelsey for their coordination, event support, and administrative assistance. for both their invitation to facilitate and support during the event.

Ready to host a Renewal Colloquium? Let’s plan your event!

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