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Succession Planning a Necessity, Speaker Says

succession workshop group

The statistics are sobering: 57 percent of librarians are more than 45 years old, which is 75 percent higher than comparable professions. Almost half of librarians working today could retire in the next five years. In short, librarianship may be facing a severe personnel shortage at all levels in our libraries. Not only that, but we might be in for a dearth of experienced librarians who can move into leadership positions. To manage an orderly transition through the coming tidal wave of retirements, library boards and administration need to think carefully about clearly written, well-defined succession plans.

On March 23, Paula Singer told nearly 50 librarians at MCLS’s Succession Planning Workshop that they owed it to themselves, their libraries, and their communities to be ready with succession plans for the key positions in their organizations. Singer led a spirited workshop designed to help participants avoid lost productivity during lengthy job searches, retain key talent in the library, and prepare for future challenges. She emphasized that succession planning is a form of risk management and just as we have insurance on our buildings and contents, we need to insure ourselves against the loss of a key employee, whether it is the director, a department head, or someone else.

The day was packed with information and ample opportunity to practice the process Singer described.