By: Jeannette Smithee, Director of Staff Development Services, SEFLIN

The tenth anniversary of the SEFLIN Sun Seeker Leadership Institute is being celebrated this year! The Sun Seeker Leadership Institute is one of the first library leadership institutes for emerging leaders which is held as a monthly series of events over the period of a year. The long-term goals of the Sun Seeker Leadership Institute are:

  • To develop library staff who have the potential to lead 21st century libraries;
  • To develop a cadre of mentors who will act as guides, coaches and role models;
  • To provide a high quality leadership program for emerging library leaders which will instill progressive and effective leadership strategies, attitudes and skills;
  • To encourage participants to recognize and/or initiate innovations, seize opportunities and take risks where appropriate;
  • To guide participants to appreciate and thrive in a changing political and demographic environment; and
  • To serve as a mechanism for continuing leadership development among Sun Seekers alumni and a broad based library leadership network.

More than 100 library staff members have completed the Sun Seeker Leadership Institute. Dr. Elizabeth Curry, a former Executive Director of SEFLIN and a founder of the Institute, continues to serve as program facilitator. She shares the following description of the beginnings and development of the Sun Seeker Leadership Institute:

The Sun Seeker Leadership Institute is an outstanding example of multi-type library cooperation. When we first discussed monthly sessions instead of an immersion conference lasting a full week, people said it wouldn’t have the same impact. Ten years later the success is clear. We found that the impact was widespread and practical because the participants were involved in a real transformational learning experience. The participants also developed a network of collegial relationships that continue after the year is completed. I think one of the most critical aspects of the leadership institute is that we model the skills we discuss during the sessions. We create a safe space for taking risks and experimenting while we encourage a collaborative learning style where everyone’s voice is valued. The interactive exercises are combined with having a lot of fun, fellowship and food.

For ten years, the Sun Seeker Leadership Institute has assisted library staff in obtaining high quality leadership skills. Sun Seeker alumni report that the Leadership Institute directly contributed to them becoming more engaged in professional activities, accepting positions of more responsibilities, and viewing themselves as library leaders. Today, Sun Seeker alumni contribute to the Leadership Institute by serving as mentors and Personal Reflections on Leadership speakers. The Institute is truly a reflection of all types of libraries working collaboratively to identify and support the next generation of library leaders.