The role of libraries in the leadership development of women and girls around the world
Karla J. Strand
Around the world, it is imperative that women hold positions of leadership at all levels and in all fields. Many community organizations, governments, nonprofits, businesses, and individuals work to develop leadership skills in women and girls and provide them with opportunities to grow and practice these skills. At the same time, libraries around the world are often overlooked or taken for granted when these leadership-building initiatives or events are being planned. Sometimes seen merely as places where women spend leisure time or where schoolchildren go to study, libraries are undervalued and their role in shaping women leaders is invisible or ignored. In some areas outside of the United States and Europe, libraries are seen as elitist or as remnants of colonization. At times, the typical Western styles and structures of libraries are intimidating to potential users and the materials inside are irrelevant, outdated, or in unreadable languages. Despite these perceptions, libraries and information centers are valuable community institutions. While their utility in providing access to information is undeniable, libraries can also be effective partners in community development initiatives, creating or supporting leadership programming vital in the lives of women and girls.
This article will briefly discuss the role of libraries in the leadership development of women and girls around the world. More pragmatic than theoretical, the aim of this paper is to encourage readers to re-examine their notions of traditional libraries and explore the opportunities libraries provide for the growth of women and girl leaders.
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