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A phenomenological study exploring the leadership development experiences of academic research library leaders

Beth McNeil, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This phenomenological study describes the leadership development experiences of academic librarians currently working in leadership roles in academic research libraries to discover their experiences of being a library leader and to explore how they describe their own leadership development. Study participants identified as having experienced positive leadership development experiences during their careers as academic research library leaders and were, at the time of this study, employed and actively working in leadership positions reporting directly to the head of their academic research library. The goal of this exploration was to understand what the academic library leaders had experienced, with regard to leadership development, and in what context, and to learn how they make sense out of those leadership development experiences. Understanding academic library leaders’ developmental experiences, and the meaning they make from those experiences, can shed light on the relative merits of different types of experiences, and in what context, to help inform future emphases in academic library leader developmental programming. Findings from this study indicate that positive leadership development is a combination of people and experiences; supportive people who provide opportunities, offer direction, and lead by example, combined with practical on-the-job real life work experience, and purposeful development through workshops, institutes, fellowships and other leadership development opportunities.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Library science

Recommended Citation

McNeil, Beth, "A phenomenological study exploring the leadership development experiences of academic research library leaders" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3715457.