Keith's Explanation of his and my lack of motivation:
We are not unmotivated. We just have so much to do that sometimes we can't figure out where to start.
Like many other times, I think Keith is right. Sometimes I think he's a genius, but then I remember he doesn't know how to fold a shirt correctly.
Once upon a time, I used my iCal to keep my to-do list. When I outgrew that, I moved onto a desktop Widget. Everything was in categories with deadlines and carefully typed notes. Then I moved to Evernote. For some reason, this didn't work out so I started writing my to-do lists in Word documents. At any given time, my to-do list was 3-4 pages of single-spaced tasks. When that became cumbersome, I moved to Wunderlist. Right now, I'm just using the sticky-note, scribble-on-pieces-of-paper, hope- you-remember-it method. I think Keith is in a similar situation.
Growth is beautiful. I think the library should be the largest institution in the town. But there's this little problem called money and without it, libraries are really struggling. We are different that most. We have an excellent relationship with 2 of our municipalities, but the other 2 don't seem to appreciate the library as much as I'd like.
One day this week, the equivalent of 8% of our population came through the door. In one day. Take a moment and let that knock around inside your head. In June, we had more items checked out than any month in our history.
Please don't think I'm bragging. My point is that an influx like this is nearly unmanageable with a dwindling budget. I do not know what the reason is that we have been able to continue success with everything pulling us down. But the employees remain good friends and will work themselves into a coma in order to get the job done. I know some libraries think we have it easy because of our local support. They're delusional.
In a nutshell, this is my Guerrilla Guide to Management.
1. There must be a librarian at every table. This is a famous concept by Kathleen de la Pena McCook and I've followed this theory since I got into libraries. I believe in it so much that our librarians are not only encouraged to participate in local organizations, but we will pay them to do it, including their dues and other expenses. It's hard to say no to a donation request if the person asking is someone you know. Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
2. Outreach means you have to leave the building. Librarians need to be local celebrities. We need to be in the paper every week. We need to have a relationship with our television stations so that we can call their cell and they'll show up with a cameraman. We need to talk to every single person we meet and find out about them. I've never found anyone yet that couldn't benefit from some library service if they knew about it. Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
3. Elevator speeches are stupid. This is a very unpopular opinion. But I'm telling you - they are just plain stupid. You should know everything about your library. You should know the programs coming up 5 months from now, every statistics about your library from its inception and detailed percentages and real-time numbers that you can confidently discuss off the top of your head? Elevator speech? Seriously? A prepared speech that you're supposed to give when you stalk down a Council member in the parking lot? We can do better than this, people! Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
4. Everyone at the library needs to know everything about it. Competency programs, continuing education, staff training, communication - if you have someone in your library that does not excel in all of these, you're going to have to have a "difficult conversations." Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
5. Difficult conversations don't have to be done face-to-face. I've been trying a new technique. I don't know the result yet, but so far, so good. For me, there are 3 kinds of employee problems: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. A Level 1 problem might be, for instance, that an otherwise great employee does something stupid. 90% of the time, they come and tell me before I find out. Often, these problems can be dealt with through email, depending on who it is. Level 2 is clearly more serious and requires a face-to-face with me and the Assistant Director. Level 3 is the bad stuff, or a lack of competency, and we all know how that's going to end. I have one person on staff that gets so freaked out about her evaluations that we do them on Skype on a Saturday night in our pajamas. It's weird, too, because she's awesome and I've never had a problem with anything she does. But sometimes, depending on the person, I think emails are easier. And net better results. Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
6. Teambuilding is not always planned. Yesterday, the entire Program Team had a ceremonial burning of the field trip schedule from Discover Earth. It was a sacred moment...until Keith tried to stomp it out and set his shoe on fire. Anyway, there was this wonderful feeling like we had accomplished something really important - but also very difficult. In all my years in all types of businesses, I've never seen such a bond of collaboration. Everyone in the building tries to come up with collaborative projects that they can pitch. One time, I even held a pitching contest for all the staff. I gave then an assignment at a staff meeting and over the next week, they'd come into my office and give me their pitch. It was all very cool and I got some great ideas that we've used over the years. Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
7. You should be thinking so far out of the box that you can't even see the box. What box? Of course, you have to have a board with the same philosophy.
What have we learned?
Library boards are the foundation for healthy libraries. They set policy. They approve (and sometimes write, gasp!) the library's budget. If you don't have a board with your philosophy, you better do something about it. If you do - and you find a good to-do list app, let me know.
Until Next Time...