The CILIP Information Literacy Group is delighted to be sponsoring a place on CILIP’s new Leadership Programme, which has been designed to create additional leadership capacity both within the profession and within the CILIP membership. The recipient of our sponsorship, Claire Sewell, explains why she applied for the programme, and how she hopes to benefit from it.
My name is Claire Sewell and I have worked in the library and information profession for thirteen years. I currently work as Deputy Team Leader of the Reader Services Desk at Cambridge University Library, a temporary secondment. My main role is the daily supervision of department staff and making sure that the Reader Services Desk operates smoothly. We provide the initial point of contact for library users and visitors, so it is crucial that we make a good first impression. As a result of this initial contact, we often develop lasting relationships with our users and they come to us with questions throughout their time at the library. These can be on a range of subjects, from basic inductions to more in-depth information literacy questions, so we have to work to keep our knowledge current.
This is the first time I have worked in a role with dedicated management responsibility but I have been managing people informally for a while now, both at work and in the wider profession. However, management is only a small part of leadership and when CILIP advertised the Leadership Programme, I thought that taking part would fill a lot of gaps in my knowledge.
The main reason that I wanted to participate in this programme is to improve my confidence. I’m not sure that I believe in the phrase ‘natural born leader’ but, if such a thing exists, I have never considered myself as one. As I have become more involved in the profession over the last few years, I have worked hard to develop my leadership skills but I know I still have a lot left to learn. One of the key qualities I admire in people I consider leaders is that they are always pushing themselves to learn new things, and this programme will give me the confidence to push myself to do the same.
I am also looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging my thinking about leadership. Working with a cohort of peers from across the profession will help to open my eyes to different aspects of leadership and make me look at issues in a way I had not considered before. I’ve always worked in academic librarianship and, whilst this brings its own set of challenges, so do other sectors of the profession. Hopefully, working with others and learning from their experiences will make me a better leader in the long run.
Part of the remit of the Leadership Programme is to increase leadership capacity in CILIP and the information profession in general. The idea that anyone can be a leader is very important to me and I hope that in some way my participation in this project can reflect this. As I said, management and leadership are separate things but many wrongly assume that they go hand in hand. If we think about it, we can probably all list people we think of as leaders and we may be surprised at how few of them have some sort of official responsibility over us. By the time the programme is over, I will have returned to a job where management is not part of my role but I will still be looking to lead and inspire others. Leadership potential is not limited to your job role and I hope that, by sharing what I learn during this programme and demonstrating the skills I will acquire, that I can show that leadership can be for anyone as long as they have the right skills and mindset.