A big thanks to Kathy Schalk-Greene, Mount Laurel Library for organizing this program, inviting me to be on it, moderating it, and sharing her great notes with us! -pete
Notes from: “How DO They Do It All? Tips from Effective Library Leaders”
NJLA Conference, April 25, 2006 Sponsored by the NJLA Member Services Committee
A 50 minute program…
Q1: Was there any decision you made or skill you learned early in your career that has served you well?
- Don’t wear a skirt while working at a library with glass floors
- Always ask why
- Never take no for an answer
- Continually challenge yourself
- Be flexible
- Don’t let fear rule you
- If you make a mistake, you don’t die
- Don’t assume that everyone knows less that you do (It’s hard to ask for help if you think you’re perfect)
- Thank people for what they do
Q2: What role does technology play in how you do what you do?
- Help others to understand the interrelated nature of these systems in libraries
- Always learn something new
- I use technology to control and manage my time
- Not an early adopter … finally got a cell phone when I saw the benefit to me.
- Five specific technologies that make my life better:
- GoToMyPC to access my desktop from anywhere
- Yahoo calendar and listservs
- RSS Feeds to scan headlines on 100+ blogs/sites (I use firefox live bookmarks and have just fallen in love with blogbridge.)
- FURL – great for project management, reading lists, general bookmarking and serendipitous discoveries!
- AIM Chat for online meetings .
- (Thought of this one late) Google Desktop–the lifesaving app for the perpetually disorganized. I love you Google Desktop. Don’t ever leave me.
Q3: Do you have a life outside your job? How do you find a balance between your personal and professional lives?
- You don’t find balance on the street like loose change
- Most choices can be revisited later
- Sometimes you can’t help being out of balance
- Always have a sense of proportion
- Have activities outside of work
- Don’t worry about this too much
Q4: How do you foster good communication with your staff?
- You have to model good communication and show a willingness to listen without judgment
- Realize that all communication is good, even “negative” feedback … it’s always better to know.
- Proper response to negative feedback … “Thank you” (props to Pat Wagner for that tip)
- Ask for what you need
- Be fact-based (rather than judgmental) in your speech to others
- Provide options… “where do we go from here?”
- Give others the benefit of the doubt. We’re all passionate and deeply concerned about the health of our libraries.
- Send staff wide emails (even if you’re not sure they check it)
- Communicate in many different ways
- Library has an internal blog (encourage others to make this the default home page)
- Lots of meetings (staff wide, department, librarians, task based)
- Face book of pictures and names of all library staff, trustees, Friends, volunteers (on the blog, in a notebook in the staff room)
- Write a personal blog (Leslie’s is de-mystifying the ALA presidency)
Q5: Do you ever feel overwhelmed? What do you when that happens?
- First, freak out
- Afterwards, get a grip
- Then, prioritize what needs to be done
- And after that identify those things you can do while trying to avoid the things that need to get done
- I generally feel some amount of feeling overwhelmed. I go home more aware of everything that didn’t get done, but I’ve learned to manage this much better
- Have other people in your life who can help keep things in perspective
- Exercise regularly
Q6: What single piece of advice would you give to a librarian at the beginning of their career?
- Learn to communicate well
- Avoid energy vampires
- Be open to new possibilities
- Be willing to change your route
- Conquer your fear, let it go
- Never stop learning