The Leadership Institute began Sunday afternoon by assigning each of the 99 participants into one of 10 small discussion groups. We will be with our assigned group throughout the week and will start each day off with the group to discuss, share and/or to supplement content covered the previous day or assigned to us to read overnight. The groups aren’t task-oriented, they are designed for sharing. Our first session was a get-acquainted period. There are 10 in my group and the people range from a library director to a person who has just been given a person to supervise for the first time. We shared our professional backgrounds, our current responsibilities and our reasons for coming to the Institute. Somehow the discussion did get around to talking about the popularity of coffee shops in academic libraries and the politics of Starbucks!
The first general session followed. Throughout the week, all participants will meet as a group 3 times daily. One reason is to create a shared group experience. Yesterday’s large group session introduced the concept of the case study, which is going to be the primary way leadership issues are explored this week. Since many in the class have not had experience learning using case studies and with discussion-based learning, this first session was a way to teach us how they are used and what we can do to best prepare to take part in the discussion.
When the 2 hour session ended at 5:30, we were all given Harvard umbrellas (there have been substantial afternoon storms daily) and were led to the Radcliffe Gymnasium for an opening reception. This provided another venue to get acquainted with participants outside of my discussion group. I finished off the evening by going to dinner with two new colleagues where we had spirited exchanges of how things are at each of our libraries. One of the women is a bibiliographer/collection development librarian at Widener Library. The whole decentralized organization of the Harvard Libraries is fascinating, making our consensus building among 3 libraries seem like child’s play.
Small group discussion starts this morning promptly at 8. I’ve been up since 4:30 finishing my reading assignments. Now off to find a good cup of coffee and a cheap breakfast (read, not here at the hotel!).