ARSL Leadership Institute

Applications for the 2024-25 Leadership Institute participant cohort is now closed.

Applicant Timeline

Through May 1: Application review process
May 8: Final participant selections will be made
May 10: Notification date for applicants
May 21: Participant commitment letters due

Application Webinar Recording

Webinar hosted January 24, 2024 to share information and answer questions about the Institute program and the application process. Facilitated by Lead Instructor Kathy Zappitello and ARSL Executive Director Kate Laughlin.

Register to View the Webinar Recording

The ARSL Leadership Institute is a grant-funded pilot program (IMLS Award ID RE-246425-OLS-20) that seeks to provide timely, relevant leadership development opportunities for rural and small library workers.

The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following qualities through their application materials:

  • Dedication to service in rural and small communities
  • Commitment to ARSL's Organizational Values
  • Enthusiasm for learning and professional growth
  • Interest in expanding library service to reach diverse and/or under-served communities
  • Aspirations to lead in their library and community
  • Openness to change in themselves, their library, and their community
  • Thorough understanding of the commitment required to complete the Institute program
  • Support from supervisors and/or organizational leadership for their participation

Priority consideration will be given to applicants who:

  • Are currently serving in new library leadership positions, or who anticipate attaining their first library leadership position in the near future
  • Have worked in libraries for less than 10 years
  • Do not hold a Master's in Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree (or equivalent)
  • Self-identify as members of communities that have experienced marginalization and/or are under-represented within the library profession

Participant Time Commitment

Participants will be expected to dedicate a substantial amount of time to leadership development activities during the Institute's 18-month duration. This includes:

  • Approximately 5 hours per month of asynchronous/independent preparation and active synchronous participation in online learning sessions
  • In-person attendance at the 2024 and 2025 ARSL Conferences*, including participation as a session presenter during the 2025 Conference
  • Development and implementation of a unique, self-guided Leadership Project within their organization during Year 2 of the program
  • Active engagement with one or more professional mentors in connection with their Leadership Project or other professional development goals
  • Quarterly supplimental professional development provided by ARSL

The ideal candidate would also plan to become and/or remain actively inolved in ARSL** after completion of the Institute program through participation in Professional Networking Groups and other ARSL professional development opportunities; volunteering on one of our Committees; or running for an organizational leadership role.

Application Requirements

Applicants will be required to submit the following documents as part of their application packet:

  • 1 document containing their Applicant Statements (see below)
  • 1 copy of their current professional resume
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation from their supervisor or organizational leadership; professional colleagues; or community leaders

All documents should be formatted using these parameters:

  • PDF documents only
  • 1-inch margins
  • 12-pt Times New Roman font
  • Files must have your full name in the file name: "Alex Smith, Statements" "Pat Jones, Resume"

Applications submitted without all four documents listed above will be removed from consideration.

Applicant Statements

All applicants must submit three statements in response to the following narrative prompts as part of their application packet. Responses should be compiled into a single PDF document. the document should be divided into sections with the associated prompt at the beginning of each section.

Statement 1: Describe why you want to participate in the ARSL Leadership Institute.
Word limit 1500 words

In this statement, please address the following:

  • Why are you interested in this program?
  • What skills do you hope to gain or enhance through participation in this program?
  • This leadership institute is an intensive experience, and we want you to succeed, what supports do you have, or will you need, to succeed?
  • When life gets busy during the 18-month leadership program and how will you persist and keep going with this institute?

Statement 2: Describe your perspectives, community & experience in libraries.
Word limit 1500 words

In this statement, please address the following:

  • What is your vision of outstanding library service? How do you want to make that happen?
  • In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue facing your community and your library?
  • What changes would you make in your community and/or library over the next three to five years if you were given the opportunity, resources, and authority?

Statement 3: Tell us your unique story. 
Word limit 1000 words

In this statement, consider including the following:

  • What has your personal leadership journey in libraries looked like so far?
  • Please share the ways you have overcome barriers in your lived experience or for your community.
  • Is there anything else you want us to know about you?

*Participants will receive substantial financial support for conference attendance, including complimentary registration, at least two nights' lodging at a conference hotel, and reimbursement for most travel expenses.

**Two years of individual ARSL membership will be provided for each participant. After the conclusion of the Institute program in November 2025 participants will be responsible for their own member dues.