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Library leaders from three PALNI schools selected for Harvard Leadership Institute

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) recently awarded leadership development grants to individuals from three of its supported institutions to attend the Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians (LIAL). James Bell, Director of Libraries and Associate Professor of Library Science at Anderson University, Shannon Eaves, Director of Zondervan Library at Taylor University, and Josh Petrusa, Dean of Libraries at Butler University, were selected to attend the institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The competitive, five-day program helps academic librarians gain a deeper understanding of the leadership skills and strategies needed to manage contemporary academic libraries in challenging contexts. The program aims to address topics ranging from contemporary leadership challenges to leading transformational change, with the curriculum including small group work, reflection, writing and sharing case studies, and lectures from leaders in academic librarianship.

Learning goals for participants included:

  • Exploring the factors that improve and inhibit leadership effectiveness.
  • Increasing leadership effectiveness in ways that drive innovation and generate lasting impact.
  • Developing strategies to address short- and long-term challenges within the library.
  • Participating in meaningful personal reflection and professional renewal among a supportive community of colleagues.

Investing in the enhanced leadership skills of PALNI board members—comprised of library deans and directors from PALNI’s 24 supported institutions—benefits the entire consortium through deep collaboration, says PALNI Executive Director Kirsten Leonard. “Private academic institutions are faced with increasing challenges, but leveraging our shared leadership allows PALNI schools to provide the library and information services of much larger institutions while keeping fees in check,” Leonard says. “We are able to address challenges strategically through the guidance of our deans and directors, emphasizing that investing in leadership development is crucial for the betterment of our institutions and the achievement of positive student outcomes.”

“LIAL was a very energizing professional learning opportunity,” says Bell. “It is not every day that I get to learn from, and talk with, the person who literally wrote the book in a given theory or leadership skill. We did have that experience at the institute, and it showed through exceptional teaching and content. There were sessions that were really challenging, but I now have the tools to contribute to managing and leading change at my institution. The sessions were a perfect combination of theory and practical application and in the first month back I've already found myself using some of the skills and exercises with my local team in stakeholder mapping and strategy development.”

“I’ve come back to Zondervan Library with a better understanding of myself as a leader and a fresh perspective on what it means to be a librarian,” adds Eaves. “Harvard’s focus on learning through case studies was new to me but truly helpful in approaching challenges. Some of the most impactful takeaways were discovering our leadership framework and how it manifests in our approach to problem solving, gaining coping skills and finding satisfaction in mid-level management, and working in small groups with leaders from very different institutions to talk through problems and brainstorm solutions for our challenges.” 

Says Petrusa, “I found great value in taking the time away from daily duties to pause and reflect about both our higher purpose, as well as what it means to navigate leading and representing a team of library professionals within larger higher education administration. In some ways it was professional therapy, as we shared similar frustrations and challenges while gaining tools and insights into how we can slow down and make better decisions for our organizations. I was able to recenter my sense of leadership, and feel more able to inspire trust and empower people within my organization.”

More about this year’s honorees

James Bell

James Bell was named Director of Libraries at Anderson University in 2022 and also serves as Associate Professor of Library Science. Bell is responsible for overseeing the University’s undergraduate and seminary libraries, as well as the institutional and denominational archives. 

He is also highly involved in information literacy instruction and oversees initiatives related to student and campus engagement.

Prior to his role as director, Bell served as head Reference and Instruction Librarian for Anderson. In this capacity, he managed the acquisition of and patron access to electronic books and databases for Nicholson Library; conducted workshops and instruction sessions in collaboration with the teaching faculty; provided training and guidance for faculty librarians in research, reference, and instruction; and led assessment planning and data collection of reference and instruction. Bell has also contributed his expertise to numerous University and statewide committees.

Bell earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Library Science from Indiana University. He is also a candidate for a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education from Indiana University, and held positions at Harrison College and the Chef’s Academy before joining Anderson.

Shannon Eaves

Shannon Eaves has served as Director of Zondervan Library at Taylor University since 2021. In this role, she is responsible for leading faculty librarians and participating in faculty governance, providing vision and strategic direction for the library, and overseeing the library budget as well as assessment and reporting. Eaves also establishes and implements priorities for collection development, manages library programming and represents Zondervan Library and Taylor University in local and national organizations.

Prior to her appointment at Taylor, Eaves served as Director of Library Services for Rickman Library at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina. In this capacity, she provided leadership, vision, and oversight for library operations and staff while also contributing expertise to a number of University councils and committees. Eaves served as a member of the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries (PASCAL) Board of Directors and taught information literacy courses at SWU.

Eaves earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Science in Personnel Services from Bob Jones University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. She worked as a University Archivist and Digital Collections Librarian at Bob Jones University from 2008-2013.

Josh Petrusa

Josh Petrusa was named Dean of the Libraries at Butler University in 2022, having served as Associate Dean since 2010. Over that time he has worked to strategically update collections and spaces, with a focus on expanding online resource accessibility, and growing Digital Commons, Butler’s institutional repository. 

Serving on the Libraries’ Leadership team, Petrusa has overseen library budgets, updated positions to meet evolving needs, and planned renovations for all library spaces. He has contributed expertise to numerous campus committees and has chaired statewide committees for the Academic Libraries of Indiana, the Indiana State Library, and PALNI. 

Nationally, he has served on committees for the Association of College & Research Libraries, and presented at ALA, LITA Forum, and ER&L among other conferences. He earned a Bachelor of Arts at DePaul University, majoring in Media Studies, and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and worked at DePaul University and Norwich University before joining Butler. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Petrusa led the Butler Libraries in an interim role from December 2021.

Visit the Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians and Harvard Graduate School of Education online.

For information about PALNI, go to the consortium’s website.


About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage increased need for online support while reducing costs. To help address these financial challenges, the PALNI board of directors made the commitment to hold flat the costs shared among the supported organizations over the next 10 years. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions 

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College