December 17, 2009
I can’t believe that in less than 3 weeks 2009 will be gone and 2010 will be upon us. To say that 2009 was a rollercoaster would be an understatement. The past few days I have been thinking back on the year and listing what I thought the highs were. There were many moments that make me smile. I’m going to try to list some of them chronologically.
January: Our new associate department head, Colleen Harris, started. She has been a fantastic addition to the department’s management team. She hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped.
March: Our circulation/reserves supervisor, Tina Adams, was named Library Journal’s Paraprofessional of the Year. To say that I was/am beyond proud is another understatement. This was the first year NCSU Libraries submitted a nominee for the award and we won! The competition was stiff, but the awesome thing was the terrific amount of support Tina received from her colleagues. Her nomination letter and letters of support were strong and spanned various departments in the library. I am so proud of her.
May: The department survived another semester. We had a full year of course textbooks and Reserves Direct had been implemented for an entire year. Neither of these projects could have been possible or successful without the expertise of our colleagues in collection management, IT, acquisitions, metadata & cataloging, and preservation.
June & July: In addition to the staff training that ADS completed, staff successfully navigated the merger of the media/microforms center with ADS. This involved some changes in responsibilities and positions for certain staff, as well as absorbing and moving the entire media collection. I am incredibly proud of how all the staff directly affected by the closing of MMC and ADS as a whole handled this change. We also took over the responsibility of circing tech lending devices. This is a high volume service that requires some more specialized knowledge and included a staff person being added to the department. Again I am proud and impressed by how this was handled by everyone directly affected.
August: The first Annual ADS Staff Retreat was held the first week of August. It was/is the proudest day of my professional career. Nothing has made me happier than what happened that day. The department came together all at once, for the first time all 30+ of us were in the same room at once, and we talked about the kind of department we would like to be. The ideas expressed and shared were positive and constructive. I was proud and impressed with my staff. They showed me how incredible they all are and how much they are committed to both the department’s and Library’s mission. It was amazing. It would not have been a success were it not for the fantastic facilitation provided by our colleagues in Training and Development.
September – December: The first semester where we were hit with the big three: tech lending, course reserves, and textbooks. This was also the first semester where we hired students to work the circulation desk alongside full-time staff (at least since I have been here). I truly feel the semester was a smashing success. The students are a tremendous amount of fun to work with and watching them and the staff bond has been a riot. There are some definite lasting friendships. There is now a waiting list to get to work in ADS. Students are stalker our supervisors in order to get interviewed. It is awesome and indicative that we are doing something right. I am beaming.
Personally, I have had one of the most fulfilling professional years of my career. Aside from what is listed above, my colleagues continue to impress me with their expertise and willingness to collaborate and share. I gave more presentations this year than any year previous. In my opinion they were all resounding successes. I am most proud to have been included on the ACRL/NY’s Annual Symposium’s program this year. It was a fantastic day and I thoroughly enjoyed giving my presentation. I spoke at Brick & Click on managing staff performance and got terrific feedback. It was a great feeling to share some of my expertise with my colleagues at other libraries. The first Access Services Conference was held this year in Atlanta. It was exciting to be a part of the inaugural program and I am looking forward to attending and presenting again at next year’s conference. It was a thrill to finally put faces to names and to have it reiterated that I am not alone in the work I do.
On the whole 2009 was pretty awesome. I am looking forward to 2010 and the challenges and opportunities it will bring. BRING IT, LIBRARYLAND!
May 25, 2009
I am the oldest of four children. I have one sister who is three years younger than I am, and two female cousins, one 4 years and the second 10 years younger than myself. I say that I am one of four because in grand, old school Italian style, our families (my mom and her sister) lived very close to one another and my grandparents. We were raised as a four-pack and did everything together – vacations, birthdays, weekends, weekdays, after school, Sunday dinners, you name it, we did it together. When I was 13 our grandmother moved into our house and still lives with my parents. Us kids thought this was great because now we had Nannie’s cooking every night and she dropped us off and picked us up from school – no more bus. This also meant that at any given time there were 5-8 people in our house. It was fun, but insane, and very, very loud.
Sometimes stereotypes are so dead-on that you laugh when you read about them or see them portrayed in movies or on television. The stereotype of the loud, everyone talking at once, everyone has an opinion, everyone’s opinion is correct, and whomever is the last one talking wins all happening around a table of food is very true, at least it was in my house. If you put any stock in birth order, you’d know that first born children tend to be more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable and less open to new ideas than later born children. Add a huge dose of Italian upbringing and this pretty much summed up my personality up until I was 22 years old. You could not tell me anything. I had an opinion and you were going to hear it. I was right, you were wrong and that was the end of the story. It was my way or the highway.
I took this personality to college with me and surprisingly did very well. I had my mind opened much more than I had before and became a more tolerant person. I began college as pre-med. I wanted very much to be a doctor, but life had other plans for me and after my sophomore year, I transferred schools and found myself as a history major. I graduated and then on the suggestion of a librarian I worked with, decided to go to library school. She swore up and down that I would be a “fantastic librarian.” I am still not sure if she was correct, but I am enjoying figuring it out.
This seems like a very long winded story and way to talk about stepping outside your comfort zone, but there is a point I promise to make. Being a doctor would have been a great job for me and my domineering personality. I wanted to be an ER doc, which would have been fantastic since I could bark out orders and work in a high stress environment. But, that did not happen. What did happen was during my first year of graduate school I accepted a management position at the library.
Looking back on that time, I can safely say that I was not a glowing success in that position. I actually had a supervisor tell me that they thought my personality was not suited for management and that I tended to get very upset when I did not get my way. I wish I could say that I disagreed with that assessment, but I knew then and I know now, that was a dead-on appraisal of my management skills.
When I accepted my first professional position I made a promise to myself that I would work on developing my management skills. There was not a lot of opportunity to attend formal professional development classes for this, but I found ways that I could improve my skills. I started very simply, I listened to other people. I really listened. I considered other people’s opinions. I worked on having better discussions about projects or issues. I engaged others. And, more often than not, I took their advice or suggestions and put them into practice. I also learned how to accept criticism and feedback. I learned to listen to it and accept it with grace and then work on improving the problem. When receiving criticism and feedback I practiced what I like to call “generous listening.” To me, that meant remaining calm, not interrupting, not arguing, asking for clarification or suggestions, and then thinking about what I was just told.
Do I need to explain how difficult this was for me to do? Me, the gal who won every argument by yelling the loudest. The one who would sit at a table of 10 people who were all talking at once and was still heard. The oldest child who’s way of doing things was always the right way.
The point I am getting at, rather circuitously, is that doing that self-reflection and work was difficult and at times extremely uncomfortable. Being honest with yourself, the type of honest where you admit you have faults, is painful. However, it is also invaluable to our development and improvement and when you are committed to changing, the results can be life changing.
Being a good manager requires constant self-assessment. It requires adapting to your environment and those who you are interacting with on a daily basis. Learning how to communicate. Discovering how to motivate people. Realizing what you are doing that may be ineffective and sometimes damaging. In short, it requires you to go outside your comfort zone on a continual basis.
The good news is that once you regularly go outside your comfort zone it starts to become familiar and comfortable.
An interesting side note: the three remaining in my four-pack (my sister and two cousins) all became teachers….and married teachers. I find it funny because the classroom, at least as I remember it, is not a democracy. You do what the teacher tells you. This is even more funnier after I tell you that they are all math teachers. There are no gray areas in math. The answer is either right or wrong. This is the perfect place for our types of personalities. I’ve been a manager for almost ten years. When I come home for holidays, events or vacations and we are all together (now our numbers seem to have doubled) I get teased because I am the “quiet one” who “never argues” anymore. I just smile and tell them that I am listening to them. 🙂
February 5, 2009
Happy New Year! Well, work trumped blogging a lot towards the end of 2008. There was a lot of work orienting new employees, general end of the semester/year craziness, and then preparing for the new associate department head’s arrival. There have been a lot of posts brewing in my head and I figured now is a good time to share some thoughts.
A friend of mine recently reminded me of a post over at Brazen Careerist that I had bookmarked. It is focused on good management and stresses the importance of generosity when managing people. I agree with Penelope on pretty much all of her points, but my mind can’t help but go one step beyond where she ends. It is absolutely true that the good managers are the ones who give generously of their time, patience, skills, and mentorship. A good manager checks in with staff on a daily basis, listens to their feedback, addresses issues and concerns, provides the necessary resources, and dedicates time to developing their stafft. I get behind all of this and try to practice this in my management style. The last paragraph of the post is what hit home for me:
“So really, management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code. Some people will self-actualize through management. Some, a combination. But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. If you allow it. You will need to set aside real time to make this happen. And you need to give generously. No big surprise there, though, because why else are we here, on this planet, except to give to each other?”
Reading this started the wheels turning in my head. The holidays put the wheels on pause, but then recent discussions at work and home this week got them spinning all over again. The big questions I keep spinning around: What happens when you get little to nothing in return? What happens when you get nothing but negative back? How can we as managers build something from little to nothing?
I’ve been thinking that the short answer is that it means you’re in for a lot more work as a manager. You need to dig your heels in, find the small, but significant battles to win, and every now and again pull the rug out from under people in an effort to facilitate change. Failure is always a possibility.
Sometimes I feel like management is treated as if we are not allowed to have feelings or needs. Sometimes we have to swallow a lot that in situations other than work we would never stand for. I love a challenge and I love to give of myself, but sometimes it can be a very draining, unrewarding experience. No one wants to hear or talk about that side of the coin, but I think it is time.
July 3, 2008
I returned from Anaheim last night and plan on spending the next four days recovering and digging out from email. This was my first ALA annual conference and it lived up to my expectations of being somewhat chaotic, overwhelming, fun filled, loud and large, and most importantly a great opportunity to meet all sorts of wonderful people.
Like all trips it helps if you have a travel companion who likes to have fun and laugh a lot, Maurice York (get a web presence already!!!!) was mine and he kept me laughing the whole week. The funniest part of the whole trip is now being home seeing people’s pictures from the conference taken at events that we both were at, and only seeing him in them. I have no idea how I did it, but I pretty much avoided all photographic evidence of my existence and attendance. Kinda funny because that never happens to me.
My schedule was sort of all over the place. I didn’t do a lot of pre-planning, I just sort of knew the few places I needed to be and then flew by the seat of my pants. My biggest criticism about the conference itself is the insane overbooking. There were so many concurrent sessions that I wanted to attend and in the end had to make some tough decisions. I wish there was a little less happening at the same time.
A couple of thoughts and observations before I give my blow by blow account:
1. I know everyone who knows me is going to roll their eyes as they read this, but I am really not a great social extrovert when I first meet people or don’t know anyone at all. ALA was a bit intimidating at times because I found myself in social situations where I knew people (through blogs or twitter), but wasn’t entirely sure they knew me and I always feel like such a dork when that happens. There were many people who really went out of their way to make me feel warm and welcomed or took the time to share a lot of laughs (Paul Sharpe and Meredith Farkas I am looking at you). Everyone I met and hung out or chatted with was wonderful. I would go just to hang out with great people.
2. Twitter is where it is at! So much being twittered, so many twitter folk everywhere. Although I was unable to make it to either of the two Tweet-ups, it was so great to put names with faces. Librarians love to Twitter and following the conference happenings via Twitter was great.
3. Web presence in general is important. I witnessed so many “I love what you wrote!” or “I read your blog/twitter feed/live journal, etc…” that it is becoming apparent that a lot of great networking is facilitated through having some sort of online presence.
4. For reasons that I rather not blog about, I paid particularly more attention to my health and wellbeing at this conference. For me that meant going back to my hotel room and crashing as early as 9:30pm if necessary. If I didn’t get the chance to see or hang out with you, I apologize. I was trying to be kind to myself this trip. A first for me.
And now onto the details:
Thursday, June 26:
Arrived in Anaheim at around 11:30am. Checked into hotel, laughed that we were staying in a castle. Went out to look for food. Managed to find food choices and a large number of places to purchase alcohol, including the gift shop of our hotel. Bonus! Met up with friend and had wonderfully delicious dinner at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. Since I don’t eat seafood, I chose the braised short ribs. They were fantastic. Sake was excellent and all tales tell that the seafood was also quite tasty.
Friday, June 27:
I spent all day Friday in the Emerging Leaders pre-conference meeting and poster session. I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear my opinion on the Emerging Leaders program. I loved my project group. They were great to work with, fun to laugh with and had wonderful attitudes and personalities. It was a pleasure working with them this year and I think we really pulled off a great project. As for the program itself, I think it is a really good idea, but it has not found the right implementation. Our group had very minimal interaction with our mentor and our project was sorta undefined. We ended up creating what we thought it should be, and in the end it turned out great and got a good deal of positive feedback, but it was not the experience I expected. If anything, I walked away, particularly after Leslie Burger’s session with the ELs, that the upper echelons of ALA have no clue about the reality of being a new librarian.
After being sprung from the EL all day session, I met up with Maurice and we headed over to the LITA happy hour. It was held at the Hotel Menage- the farthest hotel from the convention center. We were troopers and hoofed it although I was fairly certain a tragedy was going to occur when trying to cross the freeway on-ramp. Once there I met up with a bunch of awesome folks and had a few drinks before finding Maurice again and heading out to dinner at Mccormicks. Then walked back to hotel and passed out.
Saturday, June 28:
I love committee meetings at 8am. It is the best part of the conference. I drug myself out of bed to make it to several committee meetings. I ran into my boss by the convention center and chatted with him for awhile, texted Maurice to let him know that I was still alive after narrowly avoiding a large disaster, and then made my way to some sessions. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about RFID in large libraries. I filed all of that info away in the hopes that when I need to think about it in the next year it will magically reappear.
I then attended what I thought was the best session I went to all conference, “Stretching Existing Staff: New Service Delivery Models.” This was a panel presentation featuring librarians from the San Jose PL, Queens PL, Richland County (SC) PL, and the Atlanta-Fulton PL. The topic was delivering library services and rethinking service delivery models without an increase in staff. This was so great and so on my mind lately. The level of enthusiasm from the speakers was palpable and they are all doing such wonderful things in their organizations. It was just the kind of shot in the arm that I needed to hear. I tip my hat to all of them.
After breaking for lunch I attended a session on library space design and redesign. It was a bit dry, but very informative. Lots to think about and keep in the back of my head for the coming building project we are currently in at MPOW.
After that session I headed back to my hotel for a nap before dinner. I wasn’t feeling so great and the quick nap helped. I went out to dinner with a former colleague and an eclectic group of librarians, OCLC folk and a vendor or two. It was this total hole in the wall Mexican restaurant and the only thing more eclectic than the guest list at dinner was the menu at the restaurant – beef stroganoff? chicken teriyaki? Need I say more?????? The food was excellent and the 8 pitchers (you read that right) were delicious. Fortunately our hotel was right next door so no long walking involved in order to get back to the room and sleep.
Sunday, June 29:
Made it to my committee meeting and then met up with Maurice at convention center. This would be the moment in my conference experience where I would begin to refer to myself as “Maurice’s Bag Bitch.” Because when you travel with three laptops, someone has to keep an eye on them all and that is what I did for the rest of the trip. I watched him prep for the Top Tech Trends panel while sitting in the back of the room chatting with Meredith and Adam and then stayed for the presentation. This was my first TTT and I enjoyed it. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say, and I liked watching the activity in the chatroom and reading comments on twitter. I did feel that the chatroom was a bit distracting from time to time, but it worked. Maurice did an excellent job as moderator (he got the biggest laughs of the afternoon). My only criticism was that I would have liked to see a bit more enthusiasm and sense of humor from the panel. I tend to really enjoy sessions where I feel the presenters love what they are doing and talking about. That was lacking a bit for me, but overall I think it was a success.
I then hung out in the room, being the best Bag Bitch ever, until the LITA President’s Program with Joe Janes began. He was excellent. A very dynamic speaker. Very optimistic and positive. He was able to chide just a little bit without being painful. His take home message was dead-on: we need to do better in the online environment. Lots of great thoughts and ideas to think about as we go into our building process. I am so glad I attended this session.
I followed that up with a trip upstairs to the OCLC Blogger’s Salon where I met up with lots of names I recognized from the blogosphere and Twitter. It was great to put names to faces and have some laughs and good conversation. We then made the greatest escape ever with some pals and had dinner at the Marriott.
Monday, June 30:
I needed to catch up on my sleep, so I slept in a bit. Headed out for lunch and then visited the exhibit hall. After spending almost two hours in there we hit the mother load for history geeks. A small press, whose name escapes me at the moment and whose receipt I don’t have in front of me, was selling their editions of American historical documents and literature at ridiculously low prices. For example, Maurice purchased the entire US constitution and related documents, a 5 volume set, for $30. I purchased the entire Federalist for $5. We spent about $70 for what was probably well over $350 worth of books. We did exactly what we said we wouldn’t which was buy a ton of books, but at those prices we could not refuse. I also bought the greatest children’s book I have ever seen for $3 from a publisher who sold it to me on the sly. I literally pulled out 3 dollar bills and she was like take it!
Then Maurice went to the UPS store to ship our treasure home and I met up with a director friend of mine for a drink in the Hilton bar. 45 minutes later, Maurice joined us, regaled us with his adventure in the line at the UPS store, and then we went back to the hotel before meeting up with friends for dinner at Buca. Dinner was great, I was exhausted from walking all over the place, so it was back to the hotel and bed for me.
Tuesday, July 1:
We took a little trip out to Cal State Northridge with one of our colleagues to see their ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) and the library. In order to get there we rented a car and ended up with a convertible because that was all that was available. This was my first time in a convertible and unless the next time is in Alaska at night, I will never do it again. The sun and LA traffic do not make for a fun ride in a convertible. The folks at Northridge were very friendly and they have a very nice library. Tons and tons of public computing, very impressive. It took us almost 90 minutes to get back and we needed to get ready for the Inaugural Ball that night. Maurice and I were attending in support of our former colleague, Andrew Pace, becoming the president of LITA. We had a lot of fun. Librarians and dancing is always a treat. The “band shouldn’t play to an empty room” rule was in full effect and we totally closed that party down. It was the most fun I have had in a while and I laughed till I almost passed out. Upon returning to my room after midnight, I quickly did pass out in anticipation of getting picked up by our airport shuttle in 5 hours.
We spent all day Wednesday on planes and in airports. I was pretty much cranky and delirious by the time we were picked up. I plan on using the next couple of days to recover and get back on Eastern standard time (so far it is not working).
This was my first ALA and it was a tremendous amount of fun. I owe Mo a big thanks for being the best partner in crime ever, and I am glad that my Bag Bitch services came in handy. I want to thank everyone I met and talked to. It was great to meet so many wonderful people. It feels so weird being home and not surrounded by hundreds of librarians. Even though I am exhausted, I feel inspired and rather optimistic about the profession and all the good things that are to come. Thanks for being awesome, everyone!
November 17, 2007
You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em!
As a manager I frequently find myself in situations that rely on my skills at compromise. This does not mean that I am giving something up or losing. Compromise is not a dirty word nor does is always have a negative connotation. I like to think of compromise as a synonym for collegiality.
We all find ourselves in situations where we need to work together to solve a problem or provide a service. We may not want to work collaboratively, nor may we instantly see the benefit that our compromise will have on someone or something else. It is important to remember that all of us are working towards the same goal of providing our users with outstanding services and a positive library experience. However, it is also important to recognize that many of us are trying to accomplish this goal with limited resources. Collaboration helps a lot, but compromise also has a role. Compromising on a process or workflow by agreeing to cut back a step or two is an example of how this can work.
The important thing to remember is that compromise is not permanent. Situations can always be re-evaluated and reworked and circumstances change. But in the act of compromise you have gained the gratitude and respect of your colleagues, and that will always be a benefit in the future.
October 26, 2007
Through the Looking Glass: Future Business Challenges for the Academic Library by James G. Neal, Columbia University
Thinking about the experience we have had this week, the metaphor is Alice through the looking glass, us wondering if we could pass through the other sic and experience the business side of libraries. Having experiences with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee through time, played chess with the queen, etc. We spent the bulk of our week talking about strategy, change, culture.
Librarians in the academic environments need to be aware of the business challenges that are facing the university and the library.
Holy cow do we have a lot to think about!!!!!!!! There are many shifting values in the library and we need to use our tools and abilities to change the culture and to personalize the library experience. Many of the core services and products of the library will remain, but will need to be integrated to provide a more self-service experience for patrons. James Neal provided us with 30 action items or ideas that libraries need to focus on in the future and now. Most focused on technology and building more digital services and a robust digital environment for patrons. The prevailing message, at least to me, from his presentation was that libraries need to become partners, owners and stakeholders in many of the changes and new services and technologies that are occurring. We need to step out of our traditional circles of influence and look for collaborations and partnerships in places where at one point in time we may not have belonged, but now it is necessary for our input, skills, resources, and talents.
October 25, 2007
Presentation by Lynda Aiman-Smith, Associate Professor, Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, College of Management, NCSU
Life-cycle Concept of Services
- Introductory Stage
- Growth Stage
- Maturity Stage
- Decline Stage
Without an idea champion, no project will live. An idea champion sells the idea and gathers resources to implement the project. Most times the resource gathering is done creatively and under the radar. Idea champions get people excited about projects. There is an equal chance that this project will fail, as it will succeed.
When resource planning and allocating for projects, always ask who the idea champion is for each project. This gives you good indication to whether the project will succeed.
Once you move towards design and prototyping you need to look towards your customers.
In each phase ask: who is the idea champion, who is affected, who cares, what competencies are needed or will need to change, what technology exists or needs to be created?
So far this has been the most valuable day. We worked in our project groups and I was very fortunate to be grouped with three other librarians who are working on the same project I am. We bounced a lot of great ideas off of one another and really worked through some of the finer details of what we are doing and how we are doing it. The evaluative tools we learned today were very useful in figuring out the granularity of the process and who is involved in each step.
Most importantly, I met three other people who I can email and talk about my project. I know I am not alone in what I am trying to accomplish and I have a new support network.
Lynda Aiman-Smith is an extremely engaging speaker and is very upbeat and motivating.
October 22, 2007
Presentation by Dr. Jose Picart, Vice Provost for Diversity and African-American Affairs, NCSU
Libraries continue to struggle with the idea of being a business or adopted a business model. One of the facets of this model is to figure out where diversity fits and how we can customize our products and services to our different patron needs.
The biggest challenge is trying to define and understand what is diversity. A few definitions from the group:
- a gathering of differences and similarities
- recognizing and accepting (if not agreeing) what ways we are different from one another
- valuing and blending the differences
- broadly defined, has benefits and challenges, results from the interaction between people who are difference and everyone is valued, respected, and included.
Once we understand what diversity is, we need to know how is presents itself in the library:
- patrons: students, faculty, staff, alumni, affiliates, etc.
- staff: faculty, professional, para-professional, clerks, etc.
- subject expertise or specialty
- gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
- public services versus non-public services
- administration versus the rest of the staff
- tenured versus non-tenured
- digital divide: those who have their own technology or possess high skills versus those who don’t
- MLS versus non-MLS
- day versus night staff
- undergraduate versus graduate students
Libraries perform many functions and hold similar values to businesses:
- excellent customer service
- budget and fiscal responsibilities
- facilities management
- connecting people with information resources
- rapid turn around time or delivery or materials
- instruction, reference, ILL, printing, photocopying, document delivery, lending, borrowing
- off site shelving/storage
- managing these services
- interacting with vendors- publishers
- partnering with other campus units or consortia
- training and staff development
- publicizing events and services: blogs, wikis, web sites, campus and/or library orientations
- public services referrals
- mission/vision/values/strategic planning for the future
- internal and external customers
- competing for donors or funding
- valuable campus real estate
- services which we don’t make, but actually lose money providing
- provide IT support
We also have mechanisms in place to tell whether or not we are doing a good job:
- patron feedback
- circulation/gate count/download statistics
- financial support from campus and/or donors
- new services
- staff turnover and retention
- attendance at events or classes
- number of ILL requests processed
- turn around time of material delivery
- partnerships and collaborations with other organization both on and off campus
- expansion of collection or numbers of volumes sent to off site facilities
I really enjoyed this presentation and it got me thinking a bit broadly. I am not sure if this is really the “matter of survival” that is being portrayed?????? I may argue that more problems are issues are centered around situational or position than with diversity. I think we need to listen to the voices that we may not have been paying attention to previously, and that will help us drive change or re-shape our environments.
October 22, 2007
Changes in higher education that are affecting the way our libraries operate and provide our services:
- distance education, not being all in one place
- interdisciplinary learning
- privatization of services: outsourcing of services (food services, student records, technology)
- increasing amount of fund generation
- more acting like businesses; customer satisfaction
- “remote” local learner- person who prefers not to be face to face
- change in expectations of students – how to measure how we impact or act upon these expectations, how do we measure them?
- teaching and instruction styles – more collaborative, research centered
- integration of technology and social networking into curriculum
- experimentation with new tools
- resource management and negotiation
- demands on faculty are increasing: 24/7 communication with students, tenure process, etc.
- staff, faculty and administration buy-in and consensus
- campus leadership roles are becoming more difficult to fulfill- impacts long-range planning
- technology is no longer infrastructure, but is a service
- universities are growing and branching out; pushing their boundaries: research parks, off-site locations and campuses
- some universities have an expectation or take an active role in the community; sometimes actively shaping them
- doing more with less resources
These changes are having strong impacts on academic and research libraries. A few of the ways discussed:
- student’s expectations of services and resources: “they want Borders”
- how do we measure these expectations?
- how do we make these adjustments while maintaining what we do well
- metrics we look at: gate count, circulation stats
- recognizing that there is still a user population who want the library to “stay as it always existed.”
- how can we do both?
- understanding of the swing in services: traditional versus 2.0
- recognizing that the library is viewed as a service to those outside the library
- translating what we do and why it is important into words that are compelling and enable people to understand how we add value
- more and more of our time is spent on marketing, PR and outreach
- we are becoming, in many ways, and invisible resource: seamless access
- making access easier, how we provide it
- we have competition (Google)
- what does our staffing/applicant pool look like? are they coming in with the training and/or experiences that we need?
This new reality is providing us as managers with a host of new challenges. We need to understand and at the very least, recognize these challenges in order to plot our strategy:
- increase in daily expectations: publishing, managing people, thinking strategically, dealing with services and complaints
- time management and delegation- reluctance to delegate or when am I delegating too much
- endless opportunities with technology
- delegating technology, people understanding new technology or how to implement
- constant renewal of skills because people are only around for a limited time
- adjusting teaching, instructional, interaction style for a patron base who seem very comfortable with being extremely interactive
- competition for qualified staff- both professional and support staff
- identity crisis of our staff
- trying to get our staff to do more while their compensation does not reflect the increase of responsibilities
- sloooooooow hiring process
- our business is still the same, it is how we do it that is changing and we need the library schools to help us
- psychological contract we make with our staff, supervisors or institution
- being able to negotiate the terms of these psychological contract as the focus of the organization shifts
- people do not develop skill sets because we tell them to – they do so because they are capable of it, or because they feel it is valued
Change is about managing events and emotions. What are the needs that are not being met that we can address in order to help people move forward?
The morning session was pretty energizing and got me in the mind set needed to spend the next five days talking about libraries. I think all of us understand that we are working in a world that is rapidly changing and that these changes affect us on many levels and in some ways that we may never have thought of before.
I think there is a general understanding and agreement that libraries should be or have been run like businesses; or at the very least there is a growing need to start thinking of our organizations in this way. We perform many processes and operations and make decisions that are very similar to those in the business world.
I seriously need to take a long look at the organizational culture of my library. I thought I had it sort of figured out, but I think I have only scratched the surface. I like what I am unearthing, and I think that there is a lot that can be learned and gained from thinking about this more.
We discussed how the way our organizations operate affect our services, patrons, and staff. We need to look at the way we work and see which processes we can change with little effort and those that require an investment of time and effort in order to improve.
October 22, 2007
This week I will be attending the TRLN Management Academy in Chapel Hill. I plan on sharing what I learn each day and am hoping that it will be valuable and helpful to all of us in ADS and in libraries. Today’s agenda includes: The Business of Libraries and The Business Case for Diversity. I will post as the day progresses.