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THINK SPACE

Designed by library directors for library directors.

Being the director or dean of a library, regardless of size or type, is a unique job with unique needs that often only another person in that position can fully comprehend or appreciate. Designed to meet the unique professional development needs of Michigan library directors, Think Space will showcase innovations in key areas of library management, leadership, and technology via compelling and cutting-edge sessions presented by well-respected experts, all while giving attendees the opportunity to build deep, lasting relationships with a cohort of directors and deans of libraries throughout Michigan. 

Watch this page for information about future Think Space events.

Why Should You Attend Think Space?

Throughout my career, I’ve always searched for educational opportunities to heighten my professional skills. I looked for learning opportunities in librarianship and outside the field. I found out that attending these events had the added value of developing a network of professionals. After the sessions, I would take the time to network with other attendees. I would specifically reach out to attendees who made comments in the sessions that intrigued me. In the safe environment of the hallway or a food court, I could delve deep into issues with my new friend. 

I believe Think Space will be a great opportunity for the library leader looking for advanced training. The ability to have cutting-edge training in an environment where it is safe to talk. Think Space will be designed with a cohort so, the opportunity is there for discussions on topics into the future.  

Kelly Richards
Director, Muskegon Area District Library

 

I think participation in Think Space is critical for the advancement of public library service and library service generally. There is a well-tread cliché that steel sharpens steel. I have found this to be true. While the Michigan library community is chock full of extraordinary minds and innovative thinkers, it is useful to see what best practices and cutting-edge innovation looks like in other parts of the country and within other industries. I think conference participation is fantastic, and I truly enjoy connecting with my colleagues around the state. However, I’ve found myself in the last couple of years struggling to find inspiration. I think the endless variations and direction on common themes help us grow and refine library service, but seeing and hearing what is happening outside of our home turf will act as a booster rocket and lift the entire library community. Our experience with out-of-industry conferences and retreats has been transformative and has helped KDL stay on the cutting edge. It is for all of these reasons that I highly recommend attendance in Think Space. It is the antidote for complacency and burnout. I can’t wait to begin!

Lance Werner
Director, Kent District Library

 

In her latest book Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts, Brené Brown shares the importance of creating spaces in which people can show up as their authentic selves. She emphasizes the need to create spaces in which people feel “safe, seen, heard, and respected.” As library directors, we need to cultivate a culture that invites vulnerability, creativity, and diverse perspectives.

I can think of no better way to develop this culture of learning, visioning, and supportive collaboration than Think Space. Gathering with fellow library directors in a space that encourages us to bring our whole selves, grapple with today’s challenges, and imagine the future of public libraries is vital to growing as leaders. I look forward to participating in Think Space and using that experience to better serve my library team and community.

Heather Wood-Gramza
Director, Howard Miller Library and Community Center

 

I have been so inspired by my colleague, MLA President Kelly Richards, and his vision for professional development for experienced library leaders. Kudos to MLA for listening and meeting this need—I am excited to see Think Space come together, and I cannot wait to attend.

As library leaders, we know our communities—including our library users and our library employees—rely on us to serve them with competence and caring, inspire them with fresh ideas and vision, and leverage our networks to ensure our library is the best it can be. As Kelly observed, when you are a library leader, it is the message that brings us together—our library size and type rarely matter. Think Space was inspired by conversations with Class 4-6 public library leaders, but the issues and opportunities Think Space is designed to address are relevant to all library leaders. This new professional development option is a tremendous opportunity for library leaders from libraries of all sizes and classifications to grow together, build community, and learn from some of the best thinkers in our profession and beyond. We are #strongertogether!

Speaking personally, I have the good fortune to work in the heart of Detroit at the University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan’s largest Catholic university, and the only university in the world that combines the centuries-old commitment to education shared by the Society of Jesus and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Our Jesuit and Mercy founders urge us to consider moral and ethical issues as we pursue our academic and vocational goals and to foster competent, compassionate leaders ready to serve a vulnerable world. My experience at Detroit Mercy has taught me that rest, reflection, and good companionship are essential in carrying out this important work. Think Space offers the opportunity I need to retreat, reflect, and engage so that I can be ready to serve our students and faculty and all those who rely on me with competence and compassion. I look forward to engaging with you in MLA’s Think Space.

Jennifer L. Dean – PhD, MLIS
Dean of Libraries, University of Detroit Mercy
 

 

As directors of public libraries, we can sometimes feel isolated in our positions because of the level of involvement required at our libraries. It’s difficult for our staff to understand the duties, obligations and organizational approach that is required of us as directors. One thing I’ve found beneficial to help with this feeling of isolation is talking and collaborating with other directors from around Michigan. Through talking with all of you, I find that I’m not the only one dealing with a specific problem or approach to library services or staffing, and you have ideas and solutions that I can take back to my library. 

For professional development, when attending national conferences, I can piece together sessions that help me as a director. But, having a structured event like the “Think Space”, with sessions that are specific to our roles as directors, is what makes this event truly unique. After the past two years that required so much of us as directors, I am looking forward to this event which will allow me to reconnect and reenergize in my role as a director. I hope to see you there because we’ll all benefit from having a wide range of directors from around the state attend.

Scott Duimstra
Executive Director, Capital Area District Libraries

 

Being the director of a library—regardless of size—is a unique job with unique needs that often only another person in that position can fully comprehend or appreciate. Having a safe space for formal and informal networking opportunities to get support, advice and at times brutally honest feedback from my peers has been critical to my career success. I am very much looking forward to attending MLA’s new Think Space to become part of a learning and motivational cohort of library directors that will provide professional development and inspiration along with encouragement and collaboration to make meaningful, positive change in me and my library for the future.

Larry Neal, Director
Clinton Macomb Public Library

 


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