Thursday, September 24, 2015

Running for CLA President-Elect

Thank you to my wife, Sarah, and Cilantro the Squirrel for this campaign ad.
I am honored and grateful to have been nominated by my colleagues to run for CLA President-Elect. The election is now live with a full slate of candidates here.

My full statement is available here and below.

Candidate Statement:
California Connection
I am honored and excited to run for President of your California Library Association. I have spent several years working for CLA, on the Management Interest Group, presenting at the Annual Conference, and serving on the CLA Board of Directors. I am running because I believe that there are many ways in which CLA can better serve you. This beautiful state holds so much diversity, both in environment and in its people. I believe that CLA has the capacity to best meet the needs of our diverse state. 
Representation: The Well-Represented and the Underserved

California hosts a wealth of different libraries, from large urban public libraries, to small rural libraries, special, and academic libraries. Many California regions have their own library networks. These localized networks provide training, professional networking opportunities, and even grants. However, many more areas of the state don’t have these same resources. We should examine these other organizations and what they provide so that CLA as an organization can adjust roles and provide assistance where needed. Just as libraries bridge the economic divide in our communities, CLA has the potential to bridge the professional development divide that exists for many of our librarians in California, those who do not live in areas served by these smaller associations. CLA needs to be an umbrella organization, coordinating these efforts to keep California libraries connected. These more formal networks will keep ALL of California librarians informed about what is going on in our great state.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Libraries

Libraries are undergoing an exciting transformation, having thrived, increasing in relevance even after the invention of the internet and the introduction of e-books. It is imperative that potential funders understand the ways in which libraries are a critical piece of our communities. California libraries are adaptable and can shape themselves, transforming to provide services in the most surprising of ways. State funding is a critical piece of this role. We need to start to think differently in regard to the ways in which one funding source can meet all of the needs of California libraries.  


Jeff Scott has worked in both academic and public libraries for over 17 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Arizona State University (ASU) and his Master of Library Science from the University of Arizona. While an undergraduate, Jeff began his library career as a library assistant at the Arizona Historical Foundation, an archive at ASU. He went on to become a Director for Casa Grande (AZ), Tulare County in California's Central Valley, and most recently for Berkeley Public Library.

Jeff is a member of the American Library Association, Public Library Association, Library Leadership and Management Association, California Library Association, and for the past several years has chaired the CLA Management Interest Group. While Chair, Jeff worked to revive the mentoring committee for CLA's Management Interest Group and currently edits the group's newsletter LEAD. In addition, Jeff writes for Gather No Dust (, a library blog with a focus on management, leadership, and technology.

A voracious reader, Jeff sets a goal to read one hundred books per year. In addition to reading, Jeff enjoys cooking new dishes, attempting to achieve the perfect pie crust, playing Minecraft with his kids, and just generally spending time with his family. A native Californian, Jeff enjoys road trips with his family to explore the state and all it has to offer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Director of the Berkeley Public Library

I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted the position of Director of Library Services for the Berkeley Public Library. I start in November after the California Library Association Conference. 

I am extremely honored to be selected to work for such a culturally rich and historically important community such as Berkeley. I would like to thank the Berkeley Public Library Board of Library Trustees, library staff, and the community of Berkeley for this amazing opportunity. I am deeply grateful.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Management Book Review: Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last
by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last is a surprisingly bold book, with an author that is both forward-thinking (very TED Talk), yet also retro in philosophy. Simon Sinek maintains that as business leaders, we have increasingly looked at employees as statistics and cogs, instead of as human beings. Much of this new philosophy stems from layoffs and business practices of the 1980s (based on Reagan’s firing of air traffic controllers). This trend has led to leaders only looking at the bottom line. Their main goal, it seems, is to increase profit margins for their shareholders at the cost of taking care of their employees. Gone is the “Mother Merill” philosophy toward employees and its “long term greed” (be good to customers and they keep coming back to your business for years to come.) Rather, it is now all about how much profit you can make next quarter. This type of philosophy is creeping into companies and leading to poor decisions. Some of these decisions are what led to the Great Recession. He maintains that this needs to change and that there are very primal reasons we need to make these changes. It is better for employees, better for customers, better for business, and for our economy. 

True leaders have great responsibility and those that take it seriously will put their people first and their own ego last. They don’t force the organization in a direction that just benefits them and their bottom line, but one which benefits the organization as a whole. We are trained to look to leaders and trust that they will make the right decision on our behalf. When that trust is broken, chaos ensues, and that can lead to disastrous results.

The leader creates the culture of the company; they must have integrity and see their people as human beings, not just as statistics and output. Sinek places this as the top priority, which is really a return to the way most companies treated their employees before the 1980s, as people. 

This is a very powerful book that many business leaders and politicians should be reading. I have read this theme in multiple books from Thomas Piketty’s Capital, to Al Gore’s The Future. Having the main focus of making the numbers for the next quarter makes us toss everything else aside. With this mindset, we are only looking at the next three months. The decisions that we make last longer than a quarter; they last for years and decades. Short-sighted philosophies have long-term consequences. As Sinek points out in this book, this short-sightedness needs to stop. 

Favorite passages:
“What makes a good leader is that they eschew the spotlight in favor of spending time and energy to do what they need to do to support and protect their people. And when we feel the Circle of Safety around us, we offer our blood and sweat and tears and do everything we can to see our leader’s vision come to life. The only thing our leaders ever need to do is remember whom they serve, and it will be our honor and pleasure to serve them back. "

“A supportive and well-managed work environment is good for one’s health. Those who feel they have more control, who feel empowered to make decisions instead of waiting for approval, suffer less stress.”

"This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you,” he offered. “All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a Styrofoam cup.” 

“The goal of the leader is to give no orders,” Captain Marquet explains. “Leaders are to provide direction and intent and allow others to figure out what to do and how to get there.” 

“For leaders, integrity is particularly important. We need to trust that the direction they choose is in fact a direction that is good for all of us and not just good for them. As members of a tribe who want to feel like we belong and earn the protection and support of the group, we will often follow our leaders blindly with the belief (or hope) that it is in our interest to do so. This is the deal we make with our leaders. “

“Building trust requires nothing more than telling the truth.”

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Your Library In More Places

I often tell people that I am a big believer in the magic of libraries. They provide inspiration and hope, no matter their size. Today, libraries can be everywhere. From the massive buildings that dominate a downtown landscape, to the small branches in malls where people shop, book machines on the walk home from school, and even on your smartphone, libraries are there. The biggest challenge is getting this message across. How do we find ways to tell this story to the local community? To get people excited about it, and ultimately change their perception and gain their support? I believe it is in this magic that we can spread that message. This misconception is an opportunity to surprise and delight. It’s our own shock and awe, and we can deliver that to our communities.

One of the key principles to this process is a motto from our Foundation: Your Library in More Places. The concept came up on a sort of whim. I have written a regular feature for the local paper about our library for several years. One of these articles was titled "Your Library in More Places." In this article, I discussed our book machine services and our efforts in renovating our libraries.

My main focus in the past few years has been outreach, specifically the library’s book machines and renovating our small rural libraries. It is amazing to see the impact these kinds of acts can have in these communities- a new library with state-of-the art services that they never would have imagined. Instead of dilapidated hand-me-down shelving, worn carpet, and old computers, they get the same new furnishings and finishes that are available in the larger branches. The custom carved book shelving, the early literacy computers, they are all there. It provides a big boost for the community to have these amenities and it demonstrates to the community that the library cares about them.

Book machines are the easiest and cheapest way for libraries to provide books and materials on a 24/7 basis in a remote location. We've provided these machines outside of schools, inside job centers, but most importantly, where books are simply not available. A lot of discussion today has been about how to get children school ready, as well as how to ensure children read at a third grade reading level by the third grade. Access to books is a key feature to that effort. There is much buzz about projects such as Little Free Libraries, but this alone doesn't address the problem of getting books into a community in the first place, especially in small rural towns. These machines provide 300 books to children on a 24/7 basis. They get such heavy use that we need to send staff out several times a week, just to replenish the machine. Most of these areas are without any resources and have no access to books or a library. Some of their schools do not even have libraries. It is in this way that we can provide the key ingredient to literacy, and in a way that has the greatest amount of access.

It's also important to keep ahead of national technology trends and apply them to local community needs. E-books, digital maker spaces, and other technology are key pieces to the library's immediate future. Throughout a community, if someone looks at their smartphone for information, a library app can be there, complete with e-books, magazines, videos, reference materials and research. Even tutoring help is available! Now more than ever, libraries have the tools to show up in unexpected places and demonstrate their value.

It is a critical time to be involved with libraries. People are increasingly without resources when they most need them. Libraries provide community space for children and adults alike, to have access to books in any format, free access to that knowledge, learning, and reading. We provide that advantage. I've always thought that libraries will exist as long as curiosity exceeds one's budget. Whether it is reading or information gathering, libraries play a role no one else can. Libraries are a beacon of hope in so many communities throughout the country. There are those who seek magic, and libraries are the place to find it.