Choosing to lead: Success characteristics of Asian American academic library leaders

Binh P. Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose – Asian Americans (AAs) are underrepresented in leadership roles in academic libraries in the USA. Instead of exploring the factors contributing to their under-representation, the purpose of this paper is to focus on exploring the major factors that have helped AA academic librarians, albeit small in number, to attain, maintain, and advance further into leadership positions in academic libraries. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted to garner responses from AAs who have held or currently hold senior leadership positions in American academic libraries. In total, 12 participants participated in the study: five women and seven men. The participants included three retired deans/directors/university librarians; seven deans/directors/university librarians; one associate dean/associate director/associate university librarian; and one assistant dean/assistant director/assistant university librarian. The participants represented a multiplicity of institutions, including community colleges, Ivy League institutions, and small as well as large private and public universities. Findings – The results of the survey revealed several important success characteristics of AA academic library leaders, including wanting to serve, willing to assume leadership roles, taking non-AA traditional career path, seeking visibility, and developing communication skills. Originality/value – This is the first and most comprehensive study on AA academic library leaders in the USA. Its goals are to: fill a gap in the literature on AAs and academic library leadership; raise awareness about the challenges facing AAs in their efforts to attain leadership positions in US academic libraries; and highlight some characteristics of successful AA academic library leaders that aspiring AA academic leaders will want to develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalLibrary Management
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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