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NLM/AAHSL Co-sponsor 2009-2010 Leadership Fellows Program for Future Academic Health Sciences Library Directors

The National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce the 2009-2010 year of the leadership program jointly sponsored with the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL). The NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellows Program is focused on preparing emerging leaders for the position of library director in academic health sciences libraries.

"The partnership with NLM has demonstrated its value in encouraging and preparing the next generation of leaders of our libraries," said AAHSL president Julia Sollenberger. "Its merit is recognized by institutions across the country as they recruit for director positions."

Fellows will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in a variety of learning settings, including exposure to leadership in another environment. They will be paired with mentors who are academic health sciences library directors. In addition to the individual relationship with their mentors, fellows benefit from working collaboratively with other fellows and mentors. Experienced program faculty and mentors will provide content and facilitation for the cohort. The program takes advantage of flexible scheduling and an online learning community to minimize disruption to professional and personal schedules. The sponsors will provide financial support for up to five fellows and will underwrite travel and meeting expenses.

Thirty-five fellows have participated in the program since its inauguration in 2002. To date, thirteen fellows have assumed director positions.

"The program was key in securing my job as director and continues to sustain me," noted Neville Prendergast, fellow, class of 2007-2008, and director at Tulane University. "It provided the learning environment to interact with my mentor and other leading directors very willing to share their ideas and experience. It places you in the position of 'thinking like a director.'"

Chris Shaffer, fellow, class of 2006-2007, and university librarian at Oregon Health & Science University, said, "My mentor 'opened the books' to me and taught me about budgets of public and private universities. As a new director, I often turn to the other fellows in my cohort for advice and community, and I can get support from all the mentors who have participated in the program."

Gary Freiburger, mentor, class of 2008-2009, and director at University of Arizona, stated, "My fellow's visit to our library gave me a chance to see our operations through fresh eyes. As a mentor, I not only have the chance to rethink my assumptions, I also have the benefit of working with a cohort of directors who share information and experiences."

Program Overview

The one-year program design is multi-faceted: three in-person leadership institutes; attendance at an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual meeting; a yearlong fellow/mentor relationship; Web-based courses and discussions on issues related to library leadership; and a two-week site visit to the mentor's home library (in one or two-week segments).

The program is designed to:

  • Introduce fellows to leadership theory and practical tools for implementing change at organizational and professional levels;
  • Introduce fellows to critical issues facing academic health sciences libraries;
  • Develop meaningful professional relationships between fellows and mentors that give fellows access to career guidance and support;
  • Expose fellows to another academic health sciences library and its institutional leadership under the guidance of their mentors;
  • Examine career development and provide models of directors to fellows;
  • Create a cohort of leaders who will draw upon each other for support throughout their careers;
  • Promote diversity in the leadership of the profession; and
  • Offer recognition to emerging leaders and enhance the competitive standing of fellows as they pursue director positions.


The NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellows Program is currently accepting applications and nominations for the August 3, 2009, deadline for potential fellows and mentors for the 2009-2010 experience. Candidates for fellow should have a strong interest in pursuing a directorship in academic health sciences libraries, as well as a minimum of five years of department head level or higher responsibility, or equivalent experience, in an academic health sciences library, hospital library, or other library-related setting. Applications from qualified minority candidates are encouraged. Mentors should have at least five years' experience as director of an academic health sciences library.

The program brochure, including information on program design, schedule, and application process, is available at For more information about the program, please contact Carolyn Lipscomb, Program Manager, AAHSL Future Leadership Committee,