iSchool Alumnus and San José Gateway PhD Student Mary-Jo Romaniuk Explores the Meaning of Leadership

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According to Romaniuk, many young and mid-career librarians aren’t interested in what are considered traditional “leadership” jobs because they fear those jobs will devour their life outside of work. Romaniuk hopes to change that perception by encouraging workers and workplaces to embrace what she calls “leadership without a leadership title.”

This approach allows employees to “shape the direction and the culture of the organization,” she said. In identifying leaders, Romaniuk wants to differentiate leaders from “the person who has the loudest voice. There are people who have measurable achievement and followers, but they do it very quietly.”

Romaniuk is focusing on emerging leaders in the library profession for her doctoral research, and she developed and co-taught the Managing Across Generations course for the Learning Partnership. At the same time, Romaniuk also is Associate University Librarian and Associate Vice Provost of Learning Services at the University of Alberta, where she oversees aspects of the university’s library system and can put her leadership work into practice.

Romaniuk’s career path is a case study in applying leadership skills to new and diverse settings. She began with a background in accounting, and then parlayed that into a government position where she ran capital development and funding programs for the province of Alberta’s economic development and tourism office. She then took the post at the University of Alberta and decided to earn her MLIS to better understand the culture and values of an academic library.

Her background has helped her see library issues from multiple perspectives. “So often we talk about doing things with a client focus with a small ‘c’ perspective,” she said. “The big ‘c’ is seeing issues from a bigger paradigm – truly from the client’s perspective. For an academic setting, it’s viewing issues in light of how the institution really operates, how the faculty and students really work, and how this all relates to the broader community.”