Lead the Change: A Library Journal Event. Seattle Public Library
I just spent a wonderful day with colleagues at an all-day seminar presented by Library Journal. “Lead the Change” presented how libraries can empower, encourage and transform relationships within libraries and outside their communities. It was about how we can develop leadership skills and build strategies that will enhance the relationship with our community.
David Bendekovic led us through specific steps to clear a path to effective actions. But the bonus was the insights provided by Marcellus Turner, Seattle’s City Librarian and Bill Ptacek the Library Director of King County Library. The main points were:
- Focus on the community – be externally focused on the customer. What can we do to improve the customer experience with our libraries?
- Be engaged with your community – Get involved with your community’s needs; “To be interesting you must be interested.” A case in point was the effective response of the San Diego County Library to needs of their communities.
- Know the Library’s Purpose – what’s the guiding mission and vision statement of your library? How is it buttressed by the daily work environment?
- Steal (borrow) ideas that work in other libraries and adapt them to your library. Develop accountability and transparency in strategic plans and outcomes. Share, collaborate and built partnerships to strengthen strategies.
- Focus on outcomes – develop an Outcome Orientation not a Problem Orientation. Choose to create and not dwell hindrances. Get to Yes!
- Engage the Community – “Community is the collection; focus on Connection Management over Collection Management.” R. David Lankes. Strive to position the library in the center of the community, make it the focal point of the community’s daily life.
All in all, great points to keep in mind when thinking about library challenges. In the seminars I’ve been to I’ve found librarians to be like booksellers in the fact that we all want to share stories and strategies about problems we’ve faced and meaningful solutions. Because of our chosen profession we naturally want to create a strong bond with our community. We need to discover effective connections with our communities.
As Marcellus Turner pointed out, libraries need to fit seamlessly into our patrons’ lives. Be it ready reader’s advisory through social media, celebrating summer reading programs through celebrating the reader or placing ourselves at the point of need for our customers.
I was lucky enough to have conversations with librarians, supervisors and directors about collaborating strategies and leading employees into uncharted waters. It was heartening to discuss solutions to problems.
This was also my first time visiting the stunningly beautiful Seattle Main Library. What a building! I was struck by the tone that was created there – respectful and user centric. Chairs and tables sprinkled throughout and obvious areas for events. The glass exterior walls really supported the idea that libraries are vital places in their communities. Seattle was right there, outside each of the four walls, visually connected at all times with the library environment inside. Perfect!