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Meet the MLA '24 Presenter of Inclusive Library Leadership: Empathy, Care, and Compassion as Leadership Strengths

In the weeks leading up to MLA ‘24 in Portland, we’ll profile the experts leading each of the symposium sessions by sharing their answers to questions about themselves and their session. We continue the series with Inclusive Library Leadership: Empathy, Care, and Compassion as Leadership Strengths led by Annie Belanger.

Join Annie for her session on Sunday, May 19, from 10:30 - 11:45 a.m., pacific time. Her session will be streamed live. To learn about all the Symposium sessions and their presenters, please see the Symposium Session Schedule.

What are you most looking forward to seeing/eating/experiencing in Portland?

I am really hoping to get out to Washington Park. I love trees and water. As an avid gardener, I hope to squeeze some of the specialty flower gardens into my visit. I also will be looking for recommendations of must go-to places to eat and enjoy coffee.

What’s a fun or surprising fact about inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a set of beliefs, practices, and tools that can be intertwined into any leadership style and approach to make it yours. It is about seeing the humanity in others in order to find a common path forward. It is about values alignment and mission focus. Clearly, I think it’s pretty great!

How did you get started in librarianship?

I fell backwards into librarianship as a career path. I had experience in information architecture, web development, and database management with an unrelated degree. Within a span of a week, three different people asked me if I had considered librarianship. I had not, but I did start to explore it. I thought I would be a web or legal librarian. I jumped into the profession as a legal and business research librarian at Deloitte. Less than a year later, I was working in public libraries as a manager and team lead.

What’s the main thing you want participants to take away from your session?

As a leader, you first need to know who you are. A big part of that is understanding what is important to you, what values you bring, and how you show yourself compassion and care. Once you have this foundation, I strongly believe in expanding our leadership toolkit to center the humans whose work we impact. I hope that participants will be better equipped to consider how empathy, care, and compassion can be leadership strengths rather than something that gets in the way of achievement.

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