Report on Elevate Preconference: Leading with Purpose

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

March 15, 2019

Eric Edwards, Illinois State Library

Writing a statement of purpose for one’s professional goals might seem a relatively straightforward task. Condensing that statement into a single sentence can prove much more challenging, however, as attendees at last fall’s Elevate Preconference: Leading with Purpose discovered. The preconference session took place on October 8, 2018, before the start of the Illinois Library Association’s Annual Conference in Peoria. Attendees spent the day in both full-group discussions and more individualized activities at each table. Dr. Adam Goodman, head of Northwestern University’s Center for Leadership and a Clinical Professor in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, acted as the facilitator for the day.

While the preconference session was not a direct continuation of the initial Elevate program that took place in April of 2018, the general theme of reflecting on professional growth and goals, while learning from the experiences of colleagues, was similar. Having attended the spring session, I was hoping to build on what I had learned, while also gaining new insights on long-term goals. Even though Dr. Goodman was the facilitator again, the pre-session readings and assignments made it clear that the focus of the event would be different.

In some ways, the preconference was more challenging, as it forced me to take a long-term perspective on my personal growth, including before I began my career as a librarian, as opposed to just short-term professional growth. It was helpful to realize that the path to becoming a librarian can differ, depending on life circumstances, educational background, and professional interests. From the discussion at my table, it became evident that no one had necessarily set out to become a librarian (or, at the very least, a certain type of librarian), but had had to adapt to changing opportunities and challenges. Taking the long-term view was very helpful in putting together the statement of purpose, although, as I mention above, condensing all of those experiences and goals into a very focused statement proved difficult.

The next Elevate session will take place on Saturday, April 27, at the Illinois State Library in Springfield. (The application period has already closed.) Even if you will not be able to participate, make sure to talk to your colleagues who will be there, and try to take advantage of any future Elevate opportunities.

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