Chapter Title

Out of Bounds: Developing a Library Outreach Program Using Kouzes & Posner's Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model

Type of Work

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Book Title

Mid-Career Library and Information Professionals: A Leadership Primer

Book Editor

Dawn Lowe-Winston, Linda Crook




Oxford, United Kingdom




There are no shortages of challenging opportunities for librarians today. From shrinking collections to apathetic patrons, it’s how one responds to such challenges that matters the most. As libraries continue to change with these challenges, so must the idea of leadership within the library. Already in a natural position of leadership (simply due to working in a library), librarians are often constrained by boundaries that keep them from thinking and behaving like leaders. True leadership, though, requires searching for ways to innovate, grow, and improve, regardless of material or administrative boundaries. In the widely acclaimed The Leadership Challenge (2007), James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner outline practices which are common behaviors of successful leaders. The model emphasizes that effective leadership is possible regardless of hierarchical position within the workplace. Indeed, libraries are filled with many opportunities, following Kouzes and Posner, for librarians to Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage from the Heart—but how can average librarians realistically apply these practices to their work? This article considers the development of a library outreach program, and highlights how self-directed librarians can practically apply Kouzes & Posner’s model to transform potential within their library into reality. From initial project planning to mobilizing others to act, Kouzes and Posner’s model serves as a field guide for “ordinary” librarians to exercise informal leadership at its best.

Hamilton Office Affiliation

Library and Information Technology Services

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