What is theNext-Level Librarianship in Small and Rural Libraries?
Our program is a project of the University of Michigan School of Information and the Library of Michigan, made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Our goal is to enhance the confidence, camaraderie, and skills of Class I – IV leaders through a variety of professional growth activities:

  • Twice-monthly professional development sessions from January – November 2021 (plus a December 2020 orientation).
  • An monthly “talk shop”meeting with your peers, facilitated by a previous program alum
  • A group-run conference in Ann Arbor in November 2021
  • A $1000 project grant to your library so you can carry out a special community impact initiative at your library
  • A $1000 stipend to your library that you can use to develop your professional growth. This money can be used to cover the cost of a laptop (required for participation), a substitute to cover your hours while you are away, mileage to Academy meetings or to visit other libraries, hotel rooms, out-of-town meals, memberships to professional organizations, professional journals, etc. We encourage participants to be creative with their budgeting. For example, a participant who needs a laptop might economize elsewhere by carpooling or sharing a hotel room with a colleague.
  • A certificate of completion.

What will be expected of me if I am accepted?
We know that there are amazing things happening in Class I – IV libraries, and we want you to share your skills with others! That means we want you to commit to attending all sessions and completing the activities. You’ll also be asked to account with how you spend your $1000 travel/professional growth stipend and your $1000 community impact project funds. You must have an Internet-connected laptop … or use your stipend to acquire one. You will book your own travel (we’ll cover your accommodations for the Ann Arbor conference). Finally, you will contribute as a presenter at the November 13, 2021, conference in Ann Arbor.

How much does this professional development cost?
Nothing! All costs for participation are covered by the Library of Michigan.

When is the deadline to apply?
Friday, November 6, 2020, at 11:59pm Eastern. Apply here!

Who is eligible to apply?
This academy is for library leaders from Class I – IV libraries. We will give priority to library directors and, secondarily, to assistant directors or department heads.

I work for a library branch in a Class V or VI, but my branch is small or rural. Can I apply?
Sorry. However, if you’re eager to sharpen your public library management skills, you can audit the University of Michigan’s Public Library Management online courses for free.

I’m a new director. Will this program teach me how to “do library”?
This is a leadership program, so we will focus on big-picture questions of mission, strategic planning, seeking out funds, etc., instead of functional duties like how to catalog or find a great summer reading performer. The Idaho Commission for Libraries’ free ABLE courses can help with how to select materials, basic cataloguing, and how to respond to patrons’ information requests. Its Library Learning Online programs focus on youth services, merchandising (display and marketing of your collection), advanced search, and project planning. Need something else? Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you find the resource you need.

I have many great staff members. How many can apply?
Any Class I – IV employee is eligible to apply. However, we consider many factors in selecting a cohort, including geographical diversity, professional experience, and levels. There is preference given to those who are already library directors. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will be able to accommodate multiple staff members from any one library, as our goal is to reach 20 communities with our 20-member cohort.

Where do I apply?
Right here! If you are in an area with irregular Internet access, we encourage you to type out your answers in a word processing document and then copy and paste them into the form.

My library has a limited budget for travel. How does this program help?
Your $1000 professional growth stipend can be used to cover mileage, hotel fees, out-of-town meals, even substitute staff to cover for you while you are away. Once you have secured a laptop — either one you already have or a new one — the remainder of the budget is up to you and your library to determine how to use, as long as it supports your professional growth. Think creatively! Maybe you have always wanted to join ALA or a conference and are willing to carpool and share hotel rooms on the road to make that happen. Maybe there are some professional development courses or classes you have always wanted to take … the funds must be spent on professional growth expenses, and you will be asked to keep track of them, but our goal in providing these funds is to maximize participation and address your library’s unique professional learning needs.

What’s this conference?
Our twice-monthly professional development meetings are for accepted cohort members only. However, the broader library community is welcome to attend the November 2021 conference that’s put on by you! Our sole planned face-to-face gathering (all things pandemic considered) is tentatively scheduled for November 13, 2021, at the University of Michigan School of Information in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We’ll get you dinner and a hotel room the night before. Part of your resonsibility in the cohort is to contribute to our collective decision-making about how to design the day (do you think your colleagues would prefer demos or lectures? Short programming ideas or an in-depth workshop? and who you’d like to invite for the keynote presentation. You cover (from your stipend) the costs of mileage, substitute staff, and your lunch.

My question isn’t answered here. Who can I contact for more information?
Contact project director Kristin Fontichiaro at nextlevelleadership [at] umich.edu or leave a message at 734.647.3593.