Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version

Spring 2009


Library Leadership & Management 23:2 (Spring 2009), pp. 63–74.


Copyright © 2009 Shorlette Ammons-Stephens, Holly J. Cole, Keisha Jenkins-Gibbs, Catherine Fraser Riehle, and William H. Weare, Jr. Published by the Library Leadership and Management Association. Used by permission.


The development of competencies, competency lists, or competency models has become a popular way to assess the strengths, needs, and potential contributions of individuals in an organization. The success of libraries as organizations is determined by the actions of the individuals who work in those libraries; the success of those individuals in carrying out the missions of those libraries is in large measure a reflection of the type and quality of leadership. Successful library leaders demonstrate certain skills that are instrumental in the delivery of desired outcomes. We usually think of the demonstration of these skills as competencies.

Creating a list of competencies for library leaders is a key objective envisioned in the strategic plan of the Library Leadership Administration and Management Association (LLAMA). This task was assigned to five members of the 2008 class of the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders Program. The project is a critical first step toward a list of competencies or standards that would serve at least three types of users: library educators planning curricula, aspiring library leaders hoping to advance their careers, and experienced library leaders seeking to advance the profession. This article will provide an overview of the library literature addressing competency models, describe the process used to develop the competency model for library leadership, review competency models found in the literature of other professions, and discuss the proposed core competency model for leadership in our profession.