In Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership, Steven J. Bell (editor) offers a fresh perspective in the popular leadership literature. In this collection of personal reflections, contributors reflect on the small, transformative moments that spurred them along the leadership path. Coming from librarians at various stages in their careers, the book explores the meaning of leadership and explores the various lessons, motivations, and inspirations that have quietly supported their leadership development. The most valuable offering of the book, however, is the inspiration to reflect on one’s own leadership identity, mindful of one’s own crucible moments and the impact they may have on one’s own leadership path. Indeed, Crucible Moments approaches leadership as personal growth as much as professional growth.
The book also provides many practical lists and themes to guide the reader on his or her own leadership journey. Each chapter begins by listing takeaways and ends with reflections and key lessons. These prompts provide opportunities to build discussion and guide self-reflection. Though the book is comprised of fifteen unique stories, several themes and practices are repeated throughout the book. The contributors acknowledge that the path to leadership is peppered with uncertainty and challenge. However, they encourage the reader to seize opportunities to grow into leadership. Several practical suggestions are encouraged including lifelong learning, mentorships, leadership programs, and participation in institutional and professional organizations and committees. Further, the importance of self-reflection, mindfulness, and ethics are highlighted as essential to inspiring authentic library leadership.
Members of ALAO will be especially interested to read Eboni Johnson’s leadership journey, including service as vice-president/president-elect of ALAO and, later, as president and past-president, among other roles. Johnson speaks of the validation that comes with the confidence from and teamwork with peers. Johnson’s leadership roles also encouraged her to pursue her own passion for encouraging diversity in the profession. Johnson’s takeaways include using failure as a catalyst for success, facing fears, and using your own philosophy to build a professional legacy.
The book also highlights Char Booth and Trevor A. Dawes, both speakers at the pre-conference sessions of the ALAO annual meeting in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Booth emphasizes the need for self-reflection, expanding upon the process she took to identify as a leader while Dawes writes of the merits of developing a guiding mission to support the learning and leadership development of the self and others.
Indeed, the themes shared by Johnson, Booth, and Dawes align well with the value of participation in ALAO. Crucible Moments is a wonderful companion to take along on your leadership journey.
Bell, S.J. (2016). Crucible moments: Inspiring library leadership. Place: Mission Bell Media.
Katy Mathuews, Membership Chair, Ohio University