Leadership Development: Mayo Clinic Librarians Meet in Kansas City, November 15 – 18, 2016

Submitted by Anna Beth Morgan, M.L.S., M.S., AHIP, Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Libraries

March 7, 2016 marked the beginning of new leadership for the Mayo Clinic Libraries. Anna Beth Morgan, Executive Director, accepted the challenge of leading the multi-type, multi-state library system that comprises the Mayo Clinic Libraries.  Headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, the Plummer Library is the largest of Mayo’s libraries and includes the largest group of library personnel.  The Mayo Clinic Historical Unit, the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library, and the Mayo Clinic Archives are also significant components of the libraries. Rochester library locations also include one professional hospital library, two patient libraries in hospitals, a medical school library, a health sciences library for various medical training programs and remote warehouse storage for assorted library collections and archives.  Additionally, the Mayo Clinic Libraries includes five libraries in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; one library in Jacksonville, Florida; and two libraries in Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Total staffing for the Mayo Clinic Libraries is 60.

Shortly after a visit to Arizona in the spring of 2016, one Arizona librarian recommended a leadership retreat to Morgan as an opportunity for library leaders to meet and get to know each other better.  There was also a desire to build strategic relationships among the librarians and develop methods for better implementing the developing strategic plan for the Mayo Clinic Libraries.  A second recommendation was made to get away from the physical locations of any of the Mayo Clinic Libraries.  The goal was to learn completely new ideas, meet new colleagues, and learn new ways of professional library practice, by going elsewhere and outside of Mayo Clinic.  The new Executive Director coordinated the Library Leadership Trip initiative.  The primary administrator over the library was supportive from the very beginning and gave Morgan the “green light” to start planning the leadership trip.

Selecting the right city was the first focus. Morgan decided the trip should involve a city where one, preferably two medical schools were located.  In addition, the city should have one, preferably two busy hospital libraries and at least one or more successful special libraries or museums. With this criteria established, six locations in the middle of the United States were identified as possible places to visit. Cities investigated for their “fit” with the trip criteria and the availability of prospective host libraries and museums included Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Kansas City, KS/MO; Omaha, NE; and St. Louis, MO.  A prospective itinerary for each city was shared with the library leadership team. In late summer 2016, Kansas City was selected by the leadership team as the city they would like to visit together.

Those participating in the Library Leadership Trip included the following job titles:

  • Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Historical Unit, W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library and Archives, Rochester, MN
  • Coordinator, St Marys Hospital Library, Rochester, MN
  • Supervisor, Technical Services, Rochester, MN
  • Supervisor, Hospital Library in Eau Claire, MN
  • Supervisor, Hospital Library in Jacksonville, FL
  • Library Director, Arizona Mayo Libraries
  • Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Libraries

A total of seven library leaders from Mayo participated in the Library Leadership Trip, all flying from their home city to Kansas City (five from Minnesota, one from Florida and one from Arizona). The trip stretched from Tuesday, November 15 to Friday, November 18, 2016.

Everyone left home early on November 15th and arrived safely in Kansas City before noon. Adventures in Kansas City began by renting a passenger van for librarian transport around Kansas City.  Lunch followed at a Cracker Barrel restaurant near the Kansas City international airport. The tour itinerary included:


Tuesday, November 15

Steamboat Arabia Museum (Kansas City, MO)

Park University Library (Parkville, MO)


Wednesday, November 16

Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, MO)

Family Resources Center

Professional Library

The Linda Hall Library (Kansas City, MO)

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum (Independence, MO)


Thursday, November 17

University of Kansas Medical Center (Kansas City, KS)

Archie Dykes Library

Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum

KUMC Archives

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences D’Angelo Library (Kansas City, MO)


The leadership team for the Mayo Clinic Libraries finished their “learning trip” with the consensus that much had been learned from our colleagues in Kansas City.  There was a free exchange of information and ideas at each location.  In several cases, our host librarians in Kansas City confirmed they face many of the same challenges faced by Mayo librarians such as:

  • Donor gifts that often create ongoing collection management problems
  • Fewer staff members are often available to handle the many projects and clever programs we want to initiate
  • Processing collections can take years, even decades, to accomplish
  • Print vs. electronic resources – concerns of costs, storage, access, etc.

Everyone agreed that visits to Kansas City area libraries and museums were beneficial to the Mayo Clinic library leadership team.  On November 18, 2016, library employees returned to their home libraries.  On Tuesday, November 22, the employees of all Mayo Clinic Libraries held their monthly Library Forum, a meeting to gather and share information among all library employees and all Mayo campuses. The findings of the leaders, along with photos from the Kansas City area libraries and museums were shared.

At some future time, it would be great to visit another city and learn from our colleagues there. We have no promise that a second Library Leadership Trip will occur or be funded in the future.

All in all, the experience of meeting with and learning from colleagues in November 2016 was both helpful and valuable in developing our library staff.  We are glad to have had the opportunity to get to know our Mayo colleagues better and we are pleased to have learned from our colleagues in Kansas City.

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