PLA 2010

Public Library Association Conference 2010
Portland, OR

Confessions of New Library Directors

When thinking about a director job, you need to consider how you feel about the library system. What do you think of the culture, collections and facilities. Consider the political aspects of the job and accept that there is never going to be a right time to make some of the decisions you have to make.

In times of controversy, you can't defend yourself -you need to have other people defend you. Make sure you have built up alliances with other leaders in the community.

Reimagine, Reinvent, Reallocate: Our New Reality

Sandra Nelson

The good old days are gone forever. Internet use is up and reference questions are down. Smart phone use is way up for both informational and recreational purposes. Social networking was up 227% in 2009 over 2008. The concept of privacy has changed fundamentally.

We are seeing more user-generated content and we are not the guardians of content any longer. Libraries tend to have a "bunker" mentality.

People like open events which provide instant gratification and they need a more visible role in the library. Need to be aware that those that see us as transformational are more likely to support us than those who see us merely as transactional.

For any change you are considering, if it doesn't add value to the customer experience don't do it!

Black Belt Librarian

"The library is a field day for Freud."

Libraries often fail the KISS principle when it comes to rules - we try to write everything into a statement. Instead we should keep it simple and direct. We need guidelines for rule enforcement because some people will only understand the hard line and you need escalating consequences for rules infractions. Exceptions should be rare.

Rules enforced by appearance, not behaviour is very wrong. Do not pre-judge and treat everyone the same. The same consequences should apply to the guy in a Hugo Boss suit screaming about overdue fines as the homeless man screaming in the bathroom.

It is important to handle the smaller things. That way it is less likely that the bigger things will become an issue.

Ensure that your staff are aware of what is going on around them because problem patrons know if staff is paying attention. Use the 30-30-30 rule to heighten intuition - for 30 days, stop every 30 minutes for 30 seconds and look around.

Document, document, document - when in doubt, fill out a report even if the incident is viewed as minor. If keeping a log, use clear, unbiased language. This could become a legal document.

Training should be ongoing and everyone should be reviewing manuals and procedures on a regular basis. "You don't want to be looking for your tornado policy when cows are flying by the window." Decisions made in the heat of the moment are rarely immaculate and take the time after to review them and use them as training exercises.

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