Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Outstanding in Their Field?

The Association for Rural and Small Libraries recognized that there are people working in small and rural libraries that would benefit from a comprehensive leadership institute to help propel them into library and community leadership along with enabling participants to further our library profession.

How much would this cost me?

This is an experience worth approximately $8000 however because of a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) this Institute is free to participants and covers tuition, travel, lodging, and meal

What is the time commitment?

We estimate an average of 5 hours of work per month with occasional months off and one two-day, in-person intensive, and two ARSL conferences over the 18 months.

When is the leadership institute?

Participants will be involved for 18-months starting May 2021.

View Timeline

Will there be other opportunities to attend this Institute?

The Outstanding in Their Field Leadership Institute is a pilot program of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.  Based on the results we hope to continue in future years. 

How does this work? Is it online?

It is both online and in-person. In addition to the in-person intensive and the ARSL conferences, there are 10 online workshops. These workshops use a flipped-classroom approach where the participant will receive a pre-recorded video to watch when convenient and then participate in a synchronous meeting with the instructors and other participants to discuss, question, and apply the content.

What are the requirements for participation?

Participants are expected to have:

  • Regular access to an Internet-connected computer or laptop, with audio or telephone
  • Ability to attend the October 20th-23rd, 2021 &  (date TBD) 2022 ARSL Annual Conference, and the August  5th – 8th, 2021 intensive (in-person)*
  • Employment in a library for immediate application of learning
  • A commitment to view the workshop recordings; and the capacity to participate in the ten live online workshops.
  • Completion of an Institute project; between workshop assignments; engagement in the online community
  • A willingness to learn and make change in their selves, libraries, and communities!

*August intensive will require participants to arrive by the afternoon of Aug 5. Participants may depart the night of Aug 7 or the morning of Aug 8. 

What are the benefits of participating in this leadership institute?

Participants will learn and practice skills and strategies within each leadership domain.


Leading Self
  • Identify and practice their individual, authentic leadership style
  • Cultivate professional peer network
  • Build professional capacity
Leading Others
  • Build practical skills in leading and developing others
Leading the Library
  • Develop skills and confidence to lead a strong library for effective capacity and culture
  • Act as a thought leader
Leading the Community
  • Recognize the importance of participation in broader community initiatives
  • Lead community development
Leading in the Profession
  • Contribute to improving the library profession

I am not sure if this is a good fit for me, can you tell me more?

If you have just completed an MLIS and are starting a job as a shelver or other entry-level position, this may not fit right now.
We will have content at ARSL conferences and online that will interest you.

If you have more than 5 years of experience running a library and have several successes, this may not fit for you as a participant but you may want to be a mentor.
Check out the website in Spring 2021 for more information about mentor opportunities.

If you don’t work at a library, this opportunity is not for you.
Participants will be applying learning to their library position and doing a project that improves their library or community. For these reasons, we will only accept applicants that are currently working in a library.

If you have done other leadership programs, this is probably not the program for you.
We want people who are emergent leaders, those that are seen by colleagues as having leadership potential and a position in which they can apply leadership lessons.

If you are not a supervisor, yet it’s possible you will be soon. This institute may be a good fit for you.

If you are a newer supervisor with the need for more skill in managing staffing and the organization, apply now!