Saturday, March 27, 2010

Changing Course: Leadership for Navigating the New Library

Me with Luis Herrera
With Luis Herrera, San Francisco Public Library Director

Me with Susan Hildreth
With Susan Hildreth, Seattle Public Library Director

This was a wonderful program that I had the privilege to attend. There were many of my library management heroes there like Susan Hildreth (Seattle), Luis Herrera (San Francisco), and a good friend, Laura Isenstein with Providence Associates. I met some new friends there, some from Twitter, and other brilliant library admin people.

We had homework for this program, four articles that are available online. These are classics in the management profession, one of them by Peter Drucker. I will post the links to my Delicious account.

This session was held over two days during the pre-conference. The main focus was to understand the basic principles of the articles; the community building and building personal networks were the high points for me.

The thing that puzzled me a little is that I feel like I have gone down this road before. I used the Planning for Results model sponsored by PLA. However, even though many libraries went through the strategic planning process, many didn't engage the community in a meaningful way. They grabbed the same people that were already in their circle and asked them what they already knew. As the presenter told me, they didn't expand their sandbox or their social circle, thereby they didn't gather meaningful support. I even discussed a very prominent library and wondered surely they did this, and in fact they didn't. They got complacent.

I can't tell you how meaningful those relationships in the community are. You don't have to be a director to make them. In fact, my library has several staff members who are so embedded. It's amazing what they can accomplish, how "in the know" they are. They are valued and consulted, particularly on non-library issues. This is a big part of what we are talking about. Do you have the relationships that move beyond library and into community? Are you at that point? Great takeaways!

Another concept discussed was the personal board of directors concept- trying to establish a network of coaches and mentors that you can speak freely with and that can guide you in any aspect of your life. This is a circle that will inoculate your decision-making so that the first person telling you an idea is stupid isn't a staff member or a board member. Another point of emphasis is to not limit this circle just to librarians. I would think non-librarians would be particularly valuable, as you don't get too tunnel visioned. Library organizational issues are almost never unique to libraries, and we shouldn't treat them as such.

Overall, it was a great program. Our moderator understands our profession needs to change and to accomplish that he needed to change the people in the room, a tough sell. I think we can change and be the center, the Mecca of our communities. Surprisingly, it only takes one phone call.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Conrad R. said...

I attended the same program and had the same feeling about going down the same road. But I also realize that the concepts of PLA leadership are the story that needs to be told until we are rolling our eyes. Understanding the concepts is one thing and applying them in your particular circumstances is another.
I really appreciated the sessions and will be following up with other attendees in the future. We know the power of a shared experience to spark conversations and I feel very lucky to have been part of this one.

Jeff Scott said...

There was a lot to learn from the program. I did think it was interesting that the same concepts they were talking about were straight from the Planning for Results book.

Having read the book and developed a plan as the director at my last library, it seemed a repeat. Some of the other directors I spoke with had similar feelings. However, I agree with the presenter, we need to expand our sandbox even if we think we are reaching out, it's never enough.

I'm glad you got a lot of the program, I did too. Too bad I missed you there.