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LAPL's Innovation Leadership Program

Los Angeles Public Library

Innovation Summary

The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) Innovation Leadership Program is a fellowship and residency program designed to attract and inspire recent library school graduates (Residents) to public librarianship and to develop leadership skills in middle managers (Fellows). The Fellows and Residents have the opportunity to design and implement a program that meets at least one of the library’s strategic goals.

The program gave middle managers experience in developing outcomes that have a direct impact on the department’s strategic plan. At the same time, the Fellows refined their leadership, communication and mentoring skills. The Residents gained experiences in various specialized areas of public librarianship and an opportunity to develop an interest in a specific area of specialization.

Problem Statement

In the past four years, the Los Angeles Public Library LAPL) has been faced with a steady level of attrition. The Los Angeles Public Library Innovation Leadership Program was enacted to attract and inspire recent library school graduates to public librarianship and to create a strong executive leadership experience for LAPL’s middle managers.


Los Angeles Public Library partnered with Dr. Cindy Mediavilla, Library Consultant and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles to create LAPL’s Innovation Leadership Program Advisory Committee. The committee implemented Dr. Mediavilla’s recommendations for the program. The program is designed to provide recent Master of Library Science graduates (Residents) with applied experience in working in various professional subject specializations that exist in a large public urban library and in developing an innovative program that meets one of the library’s strategic goals. The Residents are partnered with an experienced middle manager, librarians (Fellows) who mentor the Resident throughout his/her residency. During the program, the Fellows are coached by an entry level administrator in mentoring, communications, and leadership. The Fellows attend workshops in grant writing, leadership, mentoring and are encouraged to attend professional conferences.


The projected outcome is twofold. First, the Residents are exposed to a variety of professional specializations, such as, acquisition, collection development, genealogy research, foreign language reference, digitization of materials and service to children and teens. As part of their residency project, the Residents also gained in-depth experience in a specialization of their choice by developing, presenting and implementing a project proposal that met one of the library's strategic goals. The Resident’s project proposal was designed with the guidance of their Fellow. While developing their residency project, the Resident gained specific experience in budgeting, project management, time management, grant writing, communication and developing internal and community partnerships. Second, the Fellows gained executive leadership experience by taking an active role in the ILP Advisory Committee, advising and mentoring a Resident in project management, budgeting, creating outcomes that met the library department’s strategic goals, and presenting analysis of the program and outcomes to the ILP Advisory Committee and to LAPL’s Quarterly General Information Meeting. Currently, the Innovation Leadership Program is being expanded to a two-year program with a formal internal leadership curriculum.