ILEAD USA: Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover
The 21st Century Technology and Leadership Skills Institute for the States

The Illinois State Library has hosted two extremely successful continuing education initiatives entitled ILEAD U (Illinois Libraries Explore, Apply and Discover). ILEAD U was designed to help library staff understand and respond to user needs through the application of participatory technology tools and the creation of an easy-to-replicate model program. While the 2010 Cohort was limited to Illinois library staff, the 2011 Cohort included librarians “apprentices” from other states who traveled to Springfield to experience ILEAD U in hopes of importing the program to their perspective states.

The Illinois State Library has received a $470,000 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand ILEAD U nationwide. This year, ILEAD U becomes ILEAD USA. Twenty-eight teams, consisting of five members each, in Illinois, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, and Utah will attend three, in-person sessions over the course of nine months.


ILEAD USA is a competitive, application-only program, with applicants applying in teams of five members in the participating states. One application packet is submitted for each team. A statewide Steering Committee reviews the applicant pool and selects teams for participation in the cohort cycle. All the states will have five teams participating, except Illinois, which will have eight. Each of the 28 teams are comprised of library staff members from each of the five states who are committed to fully participate in the nine-month program. Each project team consists of staff members from at least three different organizations with libraries. ILEAD USA participants remain with the five-member team throughout the program and are assigned a mentor who keeps participants motivated; offers expertise; and provides guidance and advice throughout the entire cohort cycle.

As part of the application process, ILEAD USA program cohort teams identify a single group project of the team’s design that will address at least one identified need within their communities of users. For example, a project could address and meet the needs of a community related to economic development. Teams use the skills and training acquired throughout the sessions to develop, implement, manage and evaluate the projects. In addition, within the application, each team member identifies a user or patron within the team member’s community who will serve as an advisor and a conduit for feedback about programs and services.

ILEAD USA does not take a “sink or swim” approach to continuing education; rather, it is learning by immersion--buoyed by instructors, by mentors and by the participating library staff who work collaboratively to match the assessed needs of their users with the appropriate technology tools.

Photo Caption: 2011 Apprentices: Top row, left to right: David Lisa, New Jersey State Library; Edwina Murphy, Library of Michigan; Alysia Peich, State Library of Iowa; Anne Craig, Illinois State Library; Alan Harkness, Georgia Public Library Service; Mary Chute, Institute of Museum and Library Services; Donovan Mays, Arkansas State Library; Bottom row, left to right: Matthew McLain, Utah State Library; Christine Kreger, Colorado State Library; Elizabeth Schoettle, Indiana State Library; Katie Campbell, State Library of Ohio

Most Recently Added


 News / Last Modified: 19 April 2013

ILEAD USA was featured in the Rural Partners newsletter recently.








The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Through grant making, policy development, and research, we help communities and individuals thrive through broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage and lifelong learning.

ILEAD USA_DRedSmall_(600X245)