Saturday, March 31, 2007

More Management 2.0

The New, New Manager: What Geeks Can Teach Us About Getting Stuff Done by Jory Des Jardins at Fast Company

"Open Source Management is NOT chaos...if you execute correctly. To pull it off requires re-branding of yourself however, from manager to steward. You are not making anyone do anything but rather extracting the goods from your best sources."

That says it all!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

English Language Learning: Quick Hits

Petitions target immigration
Group seeks tougher Arizona laws against illegal migrants

"Saying that they will do what the government has failed to do, a group of citizens spearheaded by a lawmaker and a former gubernatorial candidate on Tuesday launched twin petition drives to create tougher immigration laws in Arizona.

One measure is aimed at punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. The second would require police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws."


Getting tougher on illegal immigration, but at what cost?

"At a news conference organized by House Democrats after the rally, he said many officers worry the law-enforcement initiative would distract them from their priority of pursuing violent criminals. And, citing a federal court case, he questioned whether police would be within their rights to enforce immigration law.

Sheridan Bailey, owner of a structural-steel plant in Phoenix and founder of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, said the employer-sanctions measure would harshly punish employers if they're found to have illegal workers on the payroll."

So we are punishing businesses for hiring illegal immigrants and causing the police to add even more duties to their thinning ranks? Who benefits from this? Economic development doesn't and public safety doesn't. Isn't a good economy and public safety two very key factors for a thriving community?

Goddard to have say on migrant education
Dianna M. Náñez

"Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said his office will issue an opinion next week that should determine how Proposition 300 affects undocumented immigrants enrolled in adult-education classes in public schools."

"While answering questions, Goddard referred to a federal law that prohibits public schools from inquiring about a student's citizenship.

"Adult education is considered primary and secondary education. . . . Providers of that (education) may not inquire (about) citizenship," he said, adding that federal law supersedes state law."


I just hope 300 gets thrown out. This is such a bad proposition that will hurt our economy dearly. We need to help this essential piece of our workforce.

Next step in English learners ruling up to lawmakers
Lawmakers to decide on appeal of English learners school case

"Republican legislative leaders will huddle Wednesday with the state schools superintendent to decide what they should do in the wake of the latest ruling in the long-standing legal battle over English language learners."


I just don't understand. It costs money to fix the system, or it costs money to fight for keeping a system that isn't working. We lose just as much money fighting the positive change as we do fixing the system that benefits everyone. This change would improve Arizona students' chance at a better education and create more well-trained employees for the workforce. Why are we fighting this?


English-learner leader hired
"Former Nogales Unified School District Superintendent Kelt Cooper, who has been lauded for his successful reforms in teaching students English, was hired by the Arizona Department of Education to help schools statewide to improve.

Cooper will be director of technical services in the English acquisition section, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced Monday.

A federal judge ruled last week that the state's plan to educate children struggling to learn the English language violates federal law and puts hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds in jeopardy."

At least we are looking at solving the problem by hiring people that know how to do it. I hope we see some improvement. I will be optimistic and say we might see something good come out of this.

Offline Americans see Internet of Little Value

Sometimes bridging the digital divide means getting it through to people why getting a computer and having internet access is important. As we talk about library 2.0 and other technology concepts, we still have a large amount of the population who don't want to use it. Think about the population at large who are now being forced to use computers and the internet to do essential tasks like applying for a job, attempting to get benefits, or unemployment. Then look at this:

Offline Americans see Internet of Little Value
"Twenty-nine percent of all U.S. households (31 million homes) do not have Internet access and do not intend to subscribe to an Internet service over the next 12 months, according to Parks Associates’ National Technology Scan."

So when this population is forced into computers, where do you think their first stop will be? The public library is the catchall for the population that is being forced into the unknown. I wish that we could see some national intiatives providing public libraries with money to deal with this. We need technology and staff just to deal with business and governmental trends pushing their citizens towards online self-service.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Manager Questionaire

Some questions asked of me for a management project from a student at the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science.

1. Can you give a short account of how you came to be a manager? Was it a
conscious goal of yours to become a manager, something you wanted to do from
the start?

I have always been a reader, but the idea of becoming a librarian came later, management later than that. I have always been interested in management, but it didn’t become a conscious goal until I worked for some terrible bosses. I came into management with the idealistic goal of caring about workers and creating an organization that creates impact on the community. The former is always a moving target and takes constant care and attention, the latter can be done rather easily, but doing both will affect one or the other. For example, a great service for patrons may take a huge amount of staff resources, straining library services, but if you don't change services to meet patron demand, then usage suffers.

2. What traits, skills, and experiences do you feel prepared you for being a
successful manager?

Reading and experiencing bad bosses prepared me for most work situations. The book that had the most impact on me was On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors by John de Lorean. It talked about his experiences at GM and how he turned the Pontiac division of cars around despite management decisions that made it almost impossible to do so. I think this inspired me to think that with persistence, change can occur and in spite of negative forces working against you.

3. What could have prepared you better? (If you could, is there any advice
you would have given your past self when you first became a manager?)

I don’t know if there is more advice I could have given myself. I probably would have told myself to wait on management because of my family. It is hard with all the time commitments that take me away from my family. You have to take opportunities as they come. This was a big opportunity to run this library and I took it. Looking back I don’t know if I would have done anything differently, but my general advice it to make sure your family commitments are in order and that they understand the pressure and the time it will take away from them.

4. What's the most rewarding thing about being a manager? How about the most
difficult thing?

The most positive thing is knowing that you are making an impact on your community and on the organization. I love it when people come to work who are passionate about their jobs and about the library and when the community is just as excited. The most difficult thing is finding enough money to meet both the internal and external needs. Our city is not that wealthy and its priority is not with the library. Luckily, we were able to get a bond initiative for a new library on the ballot and it won by 66% this past November. This guaranteed library support in the community, a branch library, more staff, and more resources to handle our growth.

5. What do you like and dislike about being a manager as opposed to a
frontline staff member?

Any specific field of work is different from management, and management is essentially the same no matter the field. Librarian work is very rewarding as you are providing services right there and get a response from the patron right away. You can see the impact you are making from each patron. As a manager, you don’t directly see the changes you are making, and usually you only hear about the bad decisions. No one states that they liked a change, but you can tell that people do by the increase in usage, statistics, and general chatter.

6. What principles and theories of management have you found most effective
and accurate? How has strategic planning benefited your organization?

Strategic planning has been the most effective approach to demonstrating the library’s impact on the community. The strategic plan was also rolled into performance based budgeting which justifies budget expenditure by how well you are meeting the goals and objectives set by the community. We were the first to do this in our city’s organization and the response has been phenomenal. We have had major increases in usage from a general circulation increase of 20%, to an increase of computer usage by 50%.

7. What is the most difficult situation that you have had to deal with as a
manager? And how did you resolve it?

The most difficult situation was dealing with a major problem employee. In all situations, I would prefer to provide advice and guide the employee back to compliance and to become a productive member of the staff. When they flat out refuse to do so, the process is very stressful and demanding. I think that is why many managers simply refuse to deal with the situation. However, this hurts the organization dearly, and the removal of the employee in the end has helped the organization.

8. What was the most successful change you helped facilitate or implement as
a manager? Was there a least successful?

The most successful change was the re-establishment of adult literacy services at the library. Previously, the library used the Western Pinal County Literacy Council to provide Adult Literacy in the area. In 1998, that program was disbanded leaving hundreds of students to fend for themselves. In 2005, the library began its strategic planning process using PLA’s Planning for Results. This process identified Adult Literacy as the most important service. The establishment of that program took a great deal of creativity and reallocation of resources. Once established, we hit the front page of the local papers stating that Literacy concern Library with a positive article on what we were doing. We received 12 tutors just from the newspaper article. The program recently took the next step in establishing a bookmobile last month. It was a great accomplishment to create something out of nothing and to change the landscape so that Adult Literacy is not only on the radar screen, it is a major concern.

The least successful change has been in staff training. I had some success in December with two training programs on customer service and managing the angry public. I need to do a better job in training staff on technology and the changing world of libraries. We have the double digit growth and changing environment so it is hard to keep on top of all the changes and training staff for them.

9. What kind of relationship do you seek with the employees you manage? What
is your ideal?

I would like to have one that is professional, yet light. I want them to be passionate about their jobs, but not to take things too seriously. I would like their relationship with me to be a good one. In the end, I just want them to be excited to come to work every day and hope that they can approach all situations with a sense of humor. A sense of humor is essential when working for a public library. Some situations can be quite extreme and if you can find a way to laugh it off, it helps dealing with it. I just hope I encourage that.

10. Lastly, what is the key to keeping your team and yourself motivated?

I think they key is rewarding employees for doing a great job. I say thank you and tell them I appreciate them. I try to get treats for them on occasion if it has been a tough week. We have several staff events throughout the year, the Friends of the library provide a volunteer luncheon which staff can partake, they provide a staff appreciation reception, they invite staff to their annual dinner, we have a Pizza party in April for staff (usually indicates the end of the busy period, winter visitor season), and I have an employee of the month program in which the awarded employee receives a certificate, a $20 gift card to Walmart, and eight (8) hours of comp time.

Overall I have really enjoyed running my library. The changes being made in the community and the value the community has placed on the library has been fantastic. I am always excited since there is so much more that can be done and it is within reach.

English-learner funds are ruled still not enough

This goes back to why Arizona struggles with education and why it has trouble with its workforce. If there are not opportunities for Spanish speakers to learn English, no one wins. By attracting this labor force to the United States and making sure there are no opportunities for them to learn English makes this population slave labor. They come here for jobs, they live in substandard housing, and they can't do anything about it because they don't know their rights, let alone how to understand what is happening to them.

It takes seven years to learn a new language. I don't know why so many people are fighting this. This is a critical segment of our population and by keeping these opportunities away from them, we are only hurting ourselves.

English-learner funds are ruled still not enough

Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 23, 2007

"U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins said a plan approved by state lawmakers last year to satisfy a seven-year-old court order still does not provide adequate funding to school districts to educate the state's nearly 160,000 English-language learners. By requiring school districts to use federal funds in lieu of state funds, the funding scheme directly violates federal law and could "jeopardize the entire stream of federal educational funds available to the state's students," he wrote."


So Arizona legislators are putting the entire system at risk by resisting this basic right? How much money does it cost the state fighting this?


"The case, Flores vs. Arizona, was originally filed in 1992 on behalf of a Nogales family. In 2000, a federal judge ruled that the state funding was not adequate to teach struggling students English, which is required by federal law. Since then, the court has rebuffed several attempts by lawmakers to satisfy the court order by changing its funding models.

"For the last seven years, they have tried to get along with putting as little money as possible into this," said Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which is representing the plaintiffs."


People are forced to learn English, but nothing is done to help them do that.


"In his ruling, Collins said the state's plan systematically underfunds English-language instruction. He called the per-pupil funding amount arbitrary and noted that it is less than the amount called for by previous state cost studies.

Plus, he said the plan has two serious flaws that run afoul of federal law: It makes funding available only to teach students English for two years, despite evidence that it can take much longer."


There it is. In fact it takes seven years to learn a new language. I don't know how long we can go around and around on this, but the fight is obviously hurting the states economic vitality and the state's educational system. I am not exactly sure what is behind it, but it looks suspicious.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Techdirt: Thinking Digitally Still Isn't A Separate Job Function

Great post on Techdirt about MTV removing their Chief Digital Officer. I thought it was funny since it seems MTV would be on top of web 2.0. I feel like they started the whole resurgence in reality shows and thus, helped spark the whole "me" digital environment that we see today. ("me" as in Time Magazine's Person of the Year: You.

Instead of digital ideas and media being handled by one person, it should permeate the entire organization. Many organizations, especially libraries, have this problem.


Thinking Digitally Still Isn't A Separate Job Function (3/20/2007)

"Last year, in discussing the troubles that MTV has had in adapting to the internet generation, we noted that the company had hired someone to be their Chief Digital Officer, a position that lasted less than a year. As we mentioned at the time, this tells you a lot about why the network was struggling. "Digital" doesn't require a separate executive, or a separate department. These days, it needs to permeate across all job functions if a content company is going to figure out how to really embrace what digital content allows. That's why it's disappointing to see yet another network go down the same path, as TV network Bravo has now appointed a "Digital VP." Thinking digitally isn't a separate job function. It needs to be a part of the strategic thinking across all aspects of the brand. Otherwise, it ends up as a disconnected silo fighting for attention from the rest of the brand -- which isn't exactly the best way to put in place a true digital strategy."


How many libraries have "tech" people that are supposed to handle all of their stuff? It needs to permeate their organizations through all job functions with the understanding that is the future of their job functions.

At least I don't feel so bad that its not happening here if MTV doesn't get it :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

IT illiteracy undermines productivity

It seems that one place where staff is just as underfunded as libraries is in IT support. How many times have you witnessed the "centralization" of IT and how it is more cost effecient? Well its not very effecient if there is not enough of them to provide basic support and maintenance, nor is it effecient if your staff know very little about computers and are required to work with them every day.

In a recent report in IT Week:


IT illiteracy undermines productivity
Firms are finally facing up to the shortage of tech-savvy amongst their workforce
James Murray, IT Week 19 Mar 2007

"A survey last year of over 74,000 employers from the Learning and Skills Council found that 13 percent of applicants across all vacancies where firms have identified skills shortages lack general IT user skills. Meanwhile, a recent study from government and employer-backed IT skills development body e-skills UK found that UK employers felt they needed to improve the IT skills of 7.6 million employees out of an IT-using workforce of 21.5 million.
"It is a major problem," said Martin Harvey director of IT user skills at e-skills UK. "We have evidence that those with the right IT skills for their role can save 40 minutes a day compared to those who are less adept. It may not sound a lot but when you add it up that means a huge amount of productivity is being lost.""


So what you gain in less IT staff you lose in an unskilled workforce struggling with just the basics of their computers.

I set up a Library Technology Handbook for my staff. I train them to solve 90% of the problems in the library. It's not IT's fault that they have to set things up and go, they get as much support as we do.

Anyway, if your library needs help, I have a stripped copy available here.

Have fun!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pushing the tech: the long road to comfort

How do we get buy-in from administration and staff to pursue a technology initiative? Of all the services a library provides, why should technology take any precedence?

It seems that most libraries are slow to embrace and integrate technology. Part of the reason is underfunded and unsupported libraries. It is difficult to take the lead without a safety net. Nothing is worse than dedicating resources away from other parts of the library for technology and then having it blow up in your face. It can happen with anything new, but it seems with technology people are unnecessarily angry or afraid of technology. Just like math, everyone convinces themselves they are bad at it and the slightest mistake confirms that.

We need to stop worrying so much about technology and learn to play. Investigate the interests of your staff just as you would perform readers advisory. You will find an interest that can be enhanced by technology. Just like teaching someone to use a mouse through playing solitaire, the same can be done online. Social networking sites are cropping up left and right. There is bound to be one that meets anyone's needs. There are general ones, like myspace, and there are specific ones, like, and now you can just create your own social networking site through ning. Maybe there will be a rule that states every social networking site their user? The point is anyone can be convinced of the uses of technology if they are hooked into something they are interested in. Then they realize that they love the technology because of what they can do with it, then at that point there is the problem of pulling them away from it :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Feeling the same way all over again

Its always fun to break in new library users in by talking about all the amazing things your library can do. There is never enough time to mention everything, but I always love the wows. Its like feeling the excitement of the first time you step into the library and you imagine the possiblities.

It also makes me feel like "the man" (not like I'm cool "the man", but I am the authority). I always like the ad from the Samuel L. Jackson movie, He walks the walk, the man just talks and talks. Explaining all the complexities of how a library is run can make anyone's eyes glaze over. I usually try to make it exciting by just talking about the end result.

I do find all that stuff exciting. I love a challenge and finding grant money. Some of the intracacies I find interesting will bore even a librarian to tears. I just have to be careful to tell the difference between tears of joy and tears of boredom.

The library can get $100,000 by applying to e-rate, wow. That works. E-rate money is from the federal government (eyes glaze). You pay a fee on your phone bill to the universal service fund in which funds library and schools telecommunication needs (starting to drift off). It can also....snore. Talking about the details on how that is done will make you want to drop off a cliff.

Then you get into acronyms, the kiss of death. What is LSTA again? I always make the mental note of stating the full name before using acronym(as if I am writing a paper). Otherwise you get, "This LSTA grant will....snore. "

Its all about results. This saves you money (enter exact dollar amount). This expands computer acccess (every third computer user is a teen, making the library a "third place" for them in the community.) This database helps our literacy efforts (you can learn to speak Spanish online for free through the library's website). We are exploring ways to provide programming online for our users(you can see last week's program online through our website). And on and on.

I think that is why ALA and PLA went towards performance based results rather than just stats, it tells a better story. I certainly like to tell stories. I get excited about our services, I hope I can do the same for others.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Your library visit is over

Dealing with problem patrons is never easy. Depending on the situation, you can appear too lax on your policies or too restrictive where people don't want to use the library at all. (You know the whole shushing thing :)

Some people need the cop called on them and others just need a firm talking to. Going up to teens and making up some reason to ban them will deter other teens from using the library. Some people might say, "Well good then". Those people are wrong.There has to be a balance between just kicking someone out for being loud and dealing with behavior that requires police action. Not every teen is some criminal.

We had the same problem that every library across the country all seem to have, too many after school teens and too much noise. We ended up having a police officer come over and talk to us on how to handle everything from too loud patrons to potentially violent ones. After studying the issue and looking at other libraries, we realized that our problems were not so bad. We came up with a soft approach strategy, in which, problem patrons had their pins reset so they couldn't use the internet.

Why was this the key issue? The internet is the biggest carrot of library services. Theprocess did several things:

1.The process was non-confrontational. A problem patron was pointed out, he or she was warned, then documented, and finally their pin reset. Staff only had to give one warning.

2. The process engaged the problem patron. They were forced to talk to the library manager in order to have their pin reset. The patron's record was reviewed when they came to see the manager, much like going to the principal's office. We let them know the consequences if the problems continued.

3. The process empowered staff. They did not have to call me in order to do this. They identified the problem and took action. The staff are so smart about this. They know the problem and are empowered to act, the best of both worlds.

4. The process weeded out problem people without having to even argue the issue. Most of the real problem patrons were not using their own card. When they came to reset the pin, and the person who was obviously over 18 and male had a juvenile card with a female name, they fess up pretty quick. We don't allow people to use other patron's cards.

5. The process weeded out the leaders. In a group, one person can set the tone. If they are roudy, so is the group.

6. We had to rely on the police less. Calling the cops on teenagers that are too loud just seems wrong. What message does that tell them, being a teenager is a crime?

I can't say whether this approach works best, but its working so far. Problem patrons either leave or shape up. Its better than their library visit being over before it begins.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

GOP, business at odds on migrant reform

Not sure why all these stories on how anti-immigration reform have hurt local businesses come out on Sundays. Today's article demonstrates a surprising rift between the business community and the Arizona Republican Party. Stringent immigration reform in Arizona only would hurt business since that same workforce will simply go into neighboring states for work. This demonstrates how much this immigrant workforce is needed to keep the local economy going.

GOP, business at odds on migrant reform
Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 11, 2007

"Last week, 32 chambers of commerce sent a letter to state lawmakers and Gov. Janet Napolitano imploring them to hold off on state actions and work for "comprehensive immigration reform" in Congress this year."

32 chambers of commerce is quite a bit for Arizona. I would imagine it is every major metropolitan in the state.

"But in their letter, the business leaders say that an Arizona-only immigration crackdown would hurt the state's competitiveness and make it less attractive for prospective employers.

So workers would go elsewhere, so then there IS a competition for this workforce and a desire to attract it to Arizona.

"And although the business community may want to wait for Congress' plan, Arizonans don't, Boone argued. He pointed to the lopsided success of three ballot measures last fall that ratcheted up the pressure on illegal immigrants.

But chamber officials say that such policies would dampen Arizona's business climate and create a regulatory mishmash. Among those sending the letter were the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance and the Southern Arizona Chamber of Commerce Alliance.

"Our ability to bring new companies and jobs into this state will be compromised if the Legislature implements onerous and discriminatory regulations that create a negative perception of Arizona as a place to operate a business," the chamber officials wrote."

This goes back to my past posts demonstrating how necessary this population is to the local economy. This isn't even a local issue, but a STATEWIDE issue. Many Arizonans don't realize how much they benefit from this population coming to work here. It attracts business and keeps their goods at a low cost of living. Mostly because this population is paid very poorly.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Successful Saturdays:The Core or Why DVDs and MySpace helps education

I am always fascinated by circulation statistics. It amazing when you have thousands of patrons and thousands of books and they can find each other on such a regular basis without promotion or display. A patron finds that book on their own and it may be the book that changes their life.

What I find most interesting is how often these patrons may start using the libraries services with something that is more popular or seemingly without value (to some people). They start with the public access computers and the Internet. Free Internet, who could say no, now I can check my MySpace all day long for free. Blockbuster DVDs, wow, now I don't have to fork over $4 to see that latest movie. Many politicians may say, why are we wasting our money on those things? In the end, these same patrons get value from these services alone, but most of them move up to subjects that help them in life. It helps them get a job, enrich themselves, perform research, and find out about the world.

Many staff as well may question why we provide these services. A library is about books they will say, why are we doing this? We can look at examples in the United Kingdom where libraries are being closed and the system is in dire straits. Why is this? It is simply because they did not keep up with the times. As information and services became electronic, public access computers and Internet, these libraries said the same thing, we are a library, we provide books and that is it.

Shabby public libraries need lottery boost, say MPs,6109,1434189,00.html

The committee, headed by the former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman, said: "We are in no doubt that, while libraries are about more than books (and newspapers and journals), these traditional materials must be the bedrock upon which the library services rest, no matter how the institution is refreshed or rebranded.

"The explosion of relevant new technologies has to be embraced by institutions but this should be done in the context of their key functions to gather, order, present and disseminate."


What they didn't realize was that libraries don't provide books, they provide information and entertainment through different mediums. It doesn't matter what the format is as long as your provide it. You are not in the book business, you are in the information and entertainment business, once you realize that, you will have a long and sustainable life.

Explained very eloquently (and with much more detail you must read this)


Dear Library of Karen G. Schneider

To paraphrase Andrew Abbott's point in The System of Professions, we are behaving like the train companies, who thought they were in the train business, not the transportation business, and like them, there are already signs that the “train business” we do is on artificial life support. We are not even close to being the first service of choice for information seekers; we are pretty much down there with asking one's mother. Libraries across the country are increasingly asked to justify their existence in order to receive continued funding, and some have been unable to do so.


We are in the information and entertainment business and that mostly happens through reading materials the library provides. We educate our users in a variety of ways and enrich their lives with books, music, movies, and access to the internet. These interests (and skill at reading and comprehending information in a variety of formats) are essential to keep up in today's information society. Libraries must find new and imaginative ways to get people's attention, to keep their interest, and to guide them to wherever their heart desires.

Here is what happens, a patron comes into our library and all they want is Internet. That is why they got the card, a friend told him that the library has public access computers and free Internet and all you need is a library card. So he said, GREAT, and got one.

At first, he just make a beeline right to the computers every day, but overtime, he looks around, he realizes that the library has movies, and since he has nothing to do on a Friday night, he checks some out.

Now your standard public library doesn't carry just blockbuster movies, but that is what this patron checks out at first. However, over time, he realizes that he has seen all of the latest movies, but still wants to watch something, so he goes to the movies he didn't realize were there before. He checks out an independent film or a movie about another region of the world, or rediscovers a classic.

Then he wants to find out more about the subject and looks for more information, he goes to the library catalog. While searching, he finds several BOOKS on the subject. This is the end product of every library card issued, they may come at first for something that seems trivial, but in the end, they will come to the library and find educational and informational materials for a many reasons. You can use this same storyline for someone trying to find a job, they get a library card to get on the Internet to apply for a job online, they check out educational DVDs or books on resume writing, job interviews, or uses one of our databases to test their skills on a vocational test. They can find out if they will be a good real estate agent or postal clerk, or if how far they are away from getting their GED. Libraries keep their patrons connected in so many ways, it is too bad so many people just see the popular stuff or the computers and technology and think libraries waste money.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Holding the door open: Radical Trust and Library Management 2.0

Several posts in the past few weeks have made me realize that a lot of what management does is hold the door open. It isn't necessarily leading or having a vision, although that is a really big part of it. A lot of it is just allowing librarians to do their thing and get out of their way. Only it is not just that, you also have to hold the door open. The ability to withstand pressure from above and to allow smart people do their thing is best thing you can do. The pressure from administration can always deflate progess, but if you can work the charm and deflect or repel that pressure, the library is better for it.

From Execupundit:

Notes from a Boss to an employee

1. I am sometimes under enormous pressure from upper management; pressure that you seldom see. Anything that you can do to make my job easier will be greatly appreciated."


and from Library Talk, a good comment from Sandra Stewart on the subject of the can't do attitude:

Library Talk: The Can't Do Attitude

"Hey guys, don't be so quick to diss Administration. I've been a Director myself of a small library and you've got even more push from political angles and the always present budget issues. I found that the Library Board (which was very strong and all up in the day to day of the library) was very skeptical of some of the initiatives I wanted to introduce. "


Managers and directors must provide more protection for their staff so that they are free to do what they do best. Trusting them and protecting them is the key of progress. Micromanaging is the sure way to lose them, whether they stay employed with you or not (meaning even if they work for you, they will lose their spirit, and they may as well leave if they have lost that).

Another great post about library management is here:

Sites and Soundbytes:

Trust staff – no micromanagement
In my early career, I was lucky enough to be taught how NOT to be a director. I worked for a very intense micro-manager who had absolutely no trust for any of her staff no matter where they fell on the hierarchy. Trusting staff has to be at the core of what we do as directors. We have to trust them to interpret when a patron complaint should be referred to someone else, trust them to deal with the situations they want to, trust them to make decisions about forgiving fines, dealing with disruptions, and extending service beyond the norm. That is their decision as a professional working in our library whether they have an MLS or not. They must be given the parameters, but supported in making the tough decisions where there needs to be flexibility. If we can't trust our staff to a radical level, how in the world do we expect to ever trust our patrons to any level at all? And if you have staff that you can't trust to that extent, what are they doing working at a public library?


Staff must be informed as to why a decision has been made. However, it seems to be a balance between letting staff know of problems from up top without taking the wind out of their sails. If you are always saying, "They'll never support it", then people will stop trying, and they must ALWAYS keep trying. Nothing bothers me more than someone who says "I won't ask you because I know you will say no." You want them to get into the philosophy of getting things done by any means necessary. Even to the point of "beg forgiveness than ask permission". I am always surprised by what the library staff can do when they think for themselves and work together to solve a problem. It certainly makes my job easier.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Inmates Will Replace Migrants in Colorado Fields

The negative impact on the economy and local economic development is felt in Colorado where immigration law has become stricter. Farmers are reduced to hiring prison help to work their crops just so they can stay in business. Take this same example, and imagine it as factory work and you have the same problem across the country once these stringent anti-immigration laws pass. We need to find a solution that helps the economy that has become reliant on this labor force.


"Under the program, which has drawn criticism from groups concerned about immigrants’ rights and from others seeking changes in the criminal justice system, farmers will pay a fee to the state, and the inmates, who volunteer for the work, will be paid about 60 cents a day, corrections officials said.

Concerned about the possible shortage of field labor, Dorothy B. Butcher, a state representative from Pueblo and a supporter of the program, said, “The workers on these farms do the weeding, the harvesting, the storing, everything that comes with growing crops for the market.”
“If we can’t sustain our work force, we’re going to be in trouble,” said Ms. Butcher, a Democrat.
The program will make its debut in Pueblo County, where farmers have been hit hard by the labor shortage. Frank Sobolik, director of a Colorado State University extension program that works with farmers in Pueblo County, said he expected that about half of the 300 migrant workers employed by area farms might not return this season.

“There’s a feeling, a perception that these laborers won’t be back because it’s safer for them to find work in other states,” Mr. Sobolik said. “The farmers are really concerned. These are high-value crops we’re talking about here with a high labor requirement.” "

End snip

And further evidence that these policies end up hurting businesses, even turning farmers against each other for workers.


"“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I’m definitely going to lose customers. We’ve never had an issue like this. With all of us trying to get enough workers on our farms, I’m worried this is going to turn into farmer against farmer.” "

End Snip

The solution to provide prison labor is not as effective here either. Perhaps in a factory you might have more success, but in the end it turns into slave labor. You certainly don't have as a good of an end product with someone forced to do the job versus someone getting paid for it.

"But Ari Zavaras, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said the merit of a hard day’s work outdoors was invaluable to an inmate.

“They won’t be paid big bucks, but we’re hoping this will help our inmates pick up significant and valuable job skills,” Mr. Zavaras said. “We’re also assisting farmers who, if they don’t get help, are facing an inability to harvest their crops.”

With the start of the farming season looming, Colorado’s farmers are scrambling to figure out which crops to sow and in what quantity. Some are considering turning to field corn, which is mechanically harvested. And they are considering whether they want to pay for an urban inmate who could not single out a ripe watermelon or discern between a weed and an onion plant. "

End Snip

So your choice is between someone forced to do it, with a worse crop or product, or you can raise the wages for people who do that job. It makes it more attractive for the local population, but to make the job attractive for people outside of this immigrant labor force, the end result would be your average consumer paying a lot more for their daily groceries and basic essentials. It affects everything and people need to think about how to solve the problem before they go to such extreme examples.

Read the whole thing here:

Napolitano unveils immigration plan

A program to deal with immigration and illegal immigration in Arizona brings up some interesting points.

"Napolitano's proposal includes:

• Ground-based radar, aerial drones and improved ports of entry to help secure the nation's nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

• Penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers and an improved verification system to help them tell the difference.

• A temporary-worker program and path to citizenship for those living and working in the country illegally. Citizenship would be dependent on paying a fine, learning English, working, paying taxes and staying out of trouble. "

The interesting reaction in the article is to the learning English piece:

"A path to citizenship would be great, he said, but how can a migrant earning bare wages afford to pay a fine? And where will they learn English in states like Arizona, where voters have banned undocumented immigrants from government-subsidized classes?"

Every library in Arizona will soon have Rosetta Stone, an online language acquisition program that can teach Spanish speakers English as well as teach English speakers Spanish. With Prop 300, I see libraries play an increasingly higher role in literacy because of this issue.

Read the full Arizona Republic Article here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

From Boing Boing, Ultra Violent Librarians

I always love the ever changing roles of librarians in fiction.

Jack of Fables: great new Fables collection
By Cory Doctorow

"Jack follows the story of Jack (of beanstalk, giant-killing, spring heels, etc fame), a rogue Fable who is banished for the sin of making best-selling movies about his adventures. He is kidnapped by mysterious, ultra-violent "librarians" who are responsible for neutering the old, mean stories and turning them into tame, docile things, and plots a grand escape for he and his fellow captured/forgotten fables. "

Read the whole thing here: