Zim Public LIbrarians attend SILL in Zambia

SILL participants from Zimbabwe Siphethangani Ncube from Mpopoma Library (BCC), Rita Budi, George Sithole and Shantan P. Mnkandla from Bulawayo Public Library with Susan from Mortenson Center.


Compiled by Siphethangani Ncube, Shantan P Mnkandla and Rita Budi.


Strengthening Innovative Library Leaders (SILL) is a capacity building project for public and community librarians supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the African Library and Information Associations and Institutes (AFLIA) in partnership with Mortenson Center at the University of Illinois Library. The purpose of SILL is to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding and peace.

SILL understand that innovative libraries are critical community assets with services that bring information, in all formats, to everyone in the community hence they need innovative leaders willing to challenge the status quo for the sake of providing valuable services to their users. It offers professional development programs, partnerships, and training around the world. Participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Gambia, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Zambia participated in the programme.


The workshop focused on Leadership Styles, Problem-Solving, Communication, Innovation, and Planning

The Workshop

Module 1: Leadership styles for Librarians

The first module looked at the various leadership styles which can be adopted in a library institution to enable smooth running of operations.  The module identified the following leadership styles Affiliate, Commanding, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Visionary.

Group activities allowed participants to solve various scenarios applying various leadership styles. The module was concluded through participants examining their own leadership styles and how they could improve use of the one they used less often.

Module 2: Library leaders as Innovators

The objectives of this module lay in librarians’ ability to cite how libraries can be innovative in response to local problems, gain insight into their strengths as innovators and propose innovative ideas in response to user needs in their own libraries. Participants were guided through brainstorming innovative solutions to local problems by;

  1. identifying the problem
  2. explaining or elaborating on how they know it is a problem
  3. name the affected/ user group
  4. Finding the solution

Participants identified specific problems experienced at their institutions and generated innovative ideas which they shared with other.  Group activities were done to find out the best innovators. An Innovation self-assessment exercise was carried out to evaluate how participants innovate.

Module 3: Library Leaders with a Plan

Expectations from this module were that participants should be able to develop a well written innovative goal for their respective library and an Action Plan draft that they could implement on their return home. Activities in this module included participants selecting five most important values for public libraries in groups. Thereafter the importance of having a concrete plan as a leader was discussed stating that it should be clearly articulate what you intend doing and how one would measure the impact, a plan aids in seeking for financial resources and helps keep one focused. A good plan has S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound goals). Participants drew their own plans with SMART goals and shared them.

Module 4: Library Leaders as Communicators

This final module expected participants to be able to compare the four communication styles and discover their own style, describe the main characteristics of each style and then apply techniques for adjusting to other communication styles. The styles discussed are;

  1. Style 1: Action (A) - these are leaders who are result-oriented, objective, achievers and doers, responsible and efficient. They are described as pragmatic or down to earth, direct, impatient, decisive, quick (to jump to conclusions) and very energetic. They talk about change and challenges.
  2. Style 2: Process (PR) - these talk about procedures, planning, testing, strategies, facts, analysis, proof, details and organizing. They are systematic, logical, cautious, unemotional, patient and controlling.
  3. Style 3: People (PE) - these leaders are strong in communication, relationships, motivation, values, feelings and teamwork. Their style is spontaneous, empathetic, subjective, emotional, perceptive and sensitive.
  4. Style 4: Idea (I) - such leaders are guided by concepts, theories and innovation that is what’s new in the field, opportunities, grand designs, new ways and problems. Such people are usually difficult to understand, unrealistic, creative, charismatic and imaginative.

Participants were grouped and presented role play of presenting problems/ issues to supervisors.


Participants and facilitators were awarded attendance certificates, flash drives with SILL training material. Participants were urged to share with colleagues lessons learnt from the workshop and share new initiatives on AfLIA Facebook page. AfLIA took the opportunity to encourage participants to actively participate and support their national associations.  Further calls were made to maximize use of social media platforms to increase visibility of the library profession for instance Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.