I'm curious, who either is a library director (or dean) or desires to become one? Why? What draws you towards this work? What do you love about it?
am a director, and have been referred to as "a dean-like object" by one of our deans. I do love it. I love the big-picture thinking, the strategy and direction, the problem-solving, the ability to help people figure out what they love and how to make that real, the ability to make space for other people to innovate and excel... and I'm a pretty champion argue-r, so to be able to put that to use on behalf of something I believe in, advocating for our libraries on behalf of our users... that feels great. And I don't suck at it, and libraries need more administrators who don't suck. I'm proud to be a part of that group, because we deserve better. - Jenica
Indeed we do! - maʀtha
What Jenica said. I'd add a reflection that I loved (when I was the head of the Undergrad Library unit at UIUC - which had more staff and budget than many small college libraries but isn't a director/dean per se) creating space for people to evolve their thinking and skills. Yes, the library had to move along as a unit, but developing people as individuals personally- whether librarians or hourly student workers - was something I was particularly proud of. I'll let others decide if I was good at it but I'd be willing to claim that I didn't suck. :) - Lisa Hinchliffe
Desire to become one, yes. Why? I'm tired of having to manage up to get things which need to be done, done. I'm tired of being the voice in the wilderness on many topics and being told two to four years later that they wish they had listened to me back then. I'm tired of having to push for things like open communication in the library across the artificial boundary of staff vs. Faculty vs. Administrators. I'm really good at what I do andvi love it, but I anticipate having a fourth full time job dumped on top of my current three - and that is not sustainable. - Aaron the Librarian from Android
I've been an assistant dean for three years and I can honestly say that it killed any desire I had to become a dean/director. I was drawn to the position for many of the same reasons that Jenica and Aaron have described and it has been an excellent and rewarding experience to be able to have a definitive say in the direction of projects and the library as a whole. However, the time commitment required on the assdean and dean level is overwhelming and I felt that I could never turn off the job. It is worse on the next level where there is an expectation (at least on my campus) that the deans show up and/or participate in many, many projects, vents, committees, etc, while providing administrative oversight, fundraising, resource allocation and resolution to the libraries. It really is a huge job that feels like you are doing ten jobs at once. Also, if the administration of the college/university is weak, the job becomes infinitely more difficult and frustrating. Some points to consider when thinking about these positions. I love being a librarian, but I also love my family and the interests I have outside of work. It is really important to me that I am able to devote time and energy to them as well. It was very difficult as an assdean and it seems nearly impossible as a dean. But, your university/college environment may differ. - Mary Carmen
Well, i said what i said about as negatively phrased as it could be. Said positively, I think long-term, big-picture, strategic, user- and staff-centered thoughts. I get along great with University administrations and would love the chance to gather and collaboratively prioritize library services (current and emerging and explore possible future improvements on behalf of library personnel and our users. People airway come to me for advice on interpersonal and personnel stuff, I'd like to be able to officially help as well as offer suggestions on coping strategies. - Aaron the Librarian from Android
I also have an interest in being in a library director someday, and for pretty much all the reasons Jenica gave. I thought I might elaborate on my thinking but realized it would would be redundant. She said just what I would have. - Laura Krier
We're posting our dean position in August. Know anyone who wants to move to Minnesota? I'm totally serious. We have lutefisk, good Thai food, lots of theater and grassroots arts organizations, one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the country, Al Franken, Prince, and 10,000 lakes. - maʀtha
and Winter. - DJF
No, I don't want to be a director. I want to be the right hand man for a director. Directors have to deal with bullshit that I can't even imagine that is far removed from librarianship. I want to do library things, but stay out of the political stuff as much as possible. It's not that I can't do it, but I want to do librarian things and that seems to go away for the most part when you become a director (unless you are at a tiny library). - Andy
One hopes, David :) - maʀtha
The Director's Hand, Andy? - maʀtha
Andy, did you see Sarah Houghton's advertised for a right hand? - Katie
Considering how the Hands end up in the Game of Thrones series, that's not the term I'd want to use. :P - Andy
Heehee - maʀtha
Katie: Yeah, I saw it. But my fiancee is the breadwinner in our relationship, so I'm not moving. - Andy
Thanks for this question, Martha. I'm not looking to leave my current job, but I've started thinking about goals beyond this job, and the responses have been interesting to read. I'm pretty certain I don't want to be a dean or director. But there was a point where I was certain I wouldn't want a job at the level I do have, so who knows what time will bring? - ellbeecee
i plan on being one. i like solving problems and giving folks the opportunity to rock the kasbah. and similar to what jenica said, i think libraries are fucking awesome and want to show how awesome we are to all the world. - jambina
Just as a note here, I'll mention that that posting for the YorkU top job will be coming up probably around the end of the year. The search committee is forming now (I'm not on it). - John Dupuis
Also, Western is actively searching for one AUL, and will soon be posting openings for a second AUL and our UL. Come make me work for you ;-) - DJF
It's a possibility for me, but first I have to find a department head position. Those seem to pretty hard to come by these days unless you already have department head experience. I see a lot of UL and AUL positions starting to open, but it seems like there aren't many middle management positions. - kaijsa
kaijsa - yeah, I was lucky that the option came open where I already was and it was being done as a 1-year interim gig initially, for both sides to test the waters. Seeing all the AUL/UL positions but none to few at my current level is what has me thinking about what my next job might be, and what skills I need to build. - ellbeecee
If you can get an interim dept. head where you are, that seems to be the best strategy to get a little experience. It's worked for a couple of people here, but it's not like department heads leave that often. I let people at work know that I am interested in the opportunity when heads go on sabbatical in future, so we'll see if that happens. - kaijsa