BLC Leads

BLC Leads is a 6-month multi-faceted program that prepares library professionals who demonstrate leadership potential to take on increasingly demanding roles in BLC libraries. The program is designed with input from library directors and associate directors to support talent management and succession planning efforts .  BLC Leads creates experiences for library professionals to learn with and from seasoned library and higher education leaders as well as each other. The program has had two successful cohorts (2017 & 2018).

The third cohort of the program was announced in February 2020.

Participants in the BLC Leads Program have had the following feedback:

BLC Leads is a wonderful program and very valuable to future library leaders.
The structure of the opening and closing institutes provided me with insights that are immediately applicable to the work that I'm currently pursuing and my future development as an effective leader.

The most powerful component of this program was the networking opportunity, with colleagues from other institutions, and particularly with leaders from other institutions.

BLC Leads 2020

Building our Capacity to Learn

BLC Leads is a 6-month program that includes in-person institutes, virtual learning, and site visits to BLC member libraries.  It is intended for mid-career library staff with demonstrated leadership ready to take on increasingly demanding leadership . The program is designed to allow participants to learn with and from seasoned library and higher education professionals both within and outside of the BLC and each other. 

During BLC Leads 2020, program participants will: 

  • Identify specific practices, tools, and resources to enhance their current and future leadership effectiveness;
  • Differentiate between tactical and strategic decision making and practice using alignment tools;
  • Understand principles of resources planning and allocation and the leader’s role in this process; 
  • Explore best practices in collaboration within the library, across divisions on campus, and beyond; 
  • Be exposed to leadership styles of other BLC leaders;
  • Develop new skills that have immediate and long-term benefit to their home library; and 
  • Strengthen their relationships with colleagues from other BLC libraries.

The framework for this program is the Learning Organization (see “The Fifth Discipline” Peter Senge), the premise being that organizations need to have the capacity to learn and grow, and integrate input from the external environment. Our ability to manage this input directly correlates with the investments we have made to build internal capacity.

Program Design

BLC Leads is designed to prepare high-potential leaders in BLC libraries to continue playing key leadership roles in and across their institutions. Program curriculum includes library-customized, experiential learning-based approaches to strategy and alignment, resource allocation, and influential communication and collaboration. 

BLC Leads is practically designed, allowing for a manageable commitment of travel funds and time away from work and family. A multi-layered instructional design—structured personal assessment instruments and reflection, presentation from key leaders in and beyond BLC libraries, and case studies and small group work—will ensure all participants are meaningfully engaged with the content and each other.

Further, a blend of in-person and virtual sessions provides the opportunity for the group to develop as a cohort (in-person) and continue the momentum of the program without incurring additional travel costs and days away from work (virtual sessions). Site visits give each participant the chance to begin developing relationships with BLC library directors and Board members, and to visit other BLC libraries.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Program design has been adapted. The new schedule of events is as follows:

  • Two 2-hour virtual sessions for introductions, norm-setting, and laying the groundwork for the program (June 2020)
  • Two webinars related to issues and trends most pressing for current and future library and higher education leaders (Summer & Fall 2020)
  • A two-day institute (November 11th-November 12th, 2020 at the Hotel UMass, Amherst, MA)
  • Site visits to BLC member libraries throughout and following

  • A closing two-day institute (2021, dates and location to be determined)

BLC Leads has the full support of the BLC Board and will draw upon BLC leaders to guide the design and facilitation of various learning elements. In addition, the program has designated program faculty and administrative support who will ensure the design, communication and application of concepts and skills represents best practices in academic libraries and higher education.

Application Criteria

Strong candidates will:

  • Have three to ten years of professional post–MLIS experience, or its equivalent
  • Have demonstrated ability to lead and strong potential and commitment for continued leadership in libraries and higher education
  • Be able to commit to participating in all program elements
  • Be currently employed in a BLC library.

How to Apply 

Applications for the BLC Leads 2020 Program are now closed. Participants have been announced via the BLC website and BLC.Announce.

Application materials should be addressed to Susan Stearns, BLC Executive Director. Submit the application packet to by November 30th, 2019. Packet should include:

  • current CV
  • letter of interest addressing a set of questions related to leadership experience and program expectations, among other topics (click here for full information)

Request a letter of support from Dean/Director to be sent directly to

Instructor Information

Tyler Dzuba, Manager for Learning and Organizational Development at DeEtta Jones & Associates, is an experienced facilitator with passion for systems thinking, participatory design, leadership from all levels, and iterative improvement. He has facilitated workshops in a variety of academic contexts, both local and national, in support of organizational development, strategy, and personal vision. His background in academic librarianship, data analytics, strategic planning, leadership and management practices, and organizational identity lend him unique perspective from multiple sectors. 

BLC Leads 2018

Further information about our second BLC Leads cohort is available here.

BLC Leads 2017

BLC Leads 2017 was the inaugural BLC leadership program and provided the template for the design of subsequent BLC Leads.  BLC Leads 2017 was a 6-month multi-faceted program to prepare library professionals who demonstrate leadership potential to take on increasingly demanding roles in BLC libraries. The program was designed in conjunction with DeEtta Jones with input from library directors and associate directors within the BLC.  It provided experiences for library professionals to learn with and from seasoned library and higher education leaders and each other. Further information about the inaugural program is available here.