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After more than 11 years as the first full-time president of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), Eleanor Jo (Joey) Rodger announced earlier this year that, at 63, she would begin a new job in September as the founding director of the Pendle Hill Peace Network, a new national interfaith agency based in Philadelphia.
Rodger served as executive director of the Public Library Association (a division of the American Library Association [ALA]) from 1986 to 1992 and previously worked in libraries as chief of State Network Services at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and as coordinator of Evaluation and Information Development at the Fairfax County Public Library, VA, among other jobs.
Founded in 1971, ULC now has about 140 members, including libraries serving populations of 100,000 or more and corporations that work with those institutions. Rodger is particularly proud of helping ULC create a "respectful, helpful community of practice," of developing an Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) to train emerging leaders over three years, and of encouraging members to be "urban players," not merely advocates.
LJ's Oder talked to Rodger, speaking from her office in Evanston, IL, about some challenges and controversies facing libraries, how new urban library directors are bred, and what tenets she thinks the library establishment should reexamine.
LJ: What should leaders at urban and large libraries be focusing on in the …