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Thursday, April 28 • 1:15pm - 2:15pm
Responding to the Pandemic: The Challenges and Opportunities of Using Adaptive Leadership in Academic Libraries

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As the pandemic continues to reshape higher education, academic libraries have had to adapt to a reality that is increasingly more complex and uncertain. Library leaders who take an adaptive leadership approach can best support their colleagues in navigating the challenges of uncertain work environments in adaptive ways. Adaptive leadership is a style designed to address complex, long-term problems or challenges. It seeks to resolve organizational problems with input from the whole organization. Adaptive work often involves questioning the basic assumption on which an organization operates, challenging the status quo, and creating changes that may seem drastic but are necessary for the long-term health and well-being of the organization and its employees.

This presentation will provide a case study of how the University of Denver Libraries administrative team applied the principles of adaptive leadership to build a caring, compassionate, inclusive library community capable of responding to disruptions caused by the pandemic. By engaging their library colleagues to become active participants in needed changes, this approach allowed everyone to work towards solutions through debate and creative thinking. A discussion of four basic principles of adaptive leadership (organizational justice, emotional intelligence, development, and character) will show how this approach enabled library leadership to address the emotional well-being of their coworkers, who were understandably apprehensive about the future of academic library work, while also seeking long-term solutions to the inequalities in the work experiences of BIPOC employees, whose existing stresses were only exacerbated by the pandemic.


Jack Maness

Associate Dean, University of Denver
avatar for Carrie Forbes

Carrie Forbes

Associate Dean, University of Denver

Merisa Bissinger

Director of Business and Operations, University of Denver, University Libraries

Thursday April 28, 2022 1:15pm - 2:15pm EDT