10 Strategies for Community Organizing in Libraries

Another from my.niecheacademy.com through the State Library of Kansas.

Libraries are less like a for-profit and more like a cause because rather than pushing customers through a sales cycle, we are pushing them up the ladder of engagement. Have people believe for what the organization stands for and being willing to be fully engaged.

“From Awareness to Funding” article brought to light some new information. Library staff are the candidates and the community votes to support THEM. Tell stories of impact.

Lab: How can a new librarian become the incumbent candidate? Attend council meetings, read council minutes, get to know business owners, and organize community forums to discuss the needs of the town.

Like the Presidential candidate who writes a book prior to an election, they are surfacing and developing a connection with constituents. , Librarians should also use messaging through outreach, social media, strategic plans, and annual reports. Venues available: Newsletter, Facebook, Annual report, new strategic plan, outreach (after social distancing).

Develop an honest, clear, concise, locally relevant message that speaks to the community. Library as economic development agency or library as education organization or library as social welfare organization. How you talk about the library impacts how people think about the work we do – frame the message to fit the audience. Lab: Identify 3 groups to move up the ladder of engagement, sharing 3 services the library provides that would be of interest to them. (To do…)

Don’t talk about numbers, but tell stories of impact or success. Tell people about the one reference question that made an impact on that person’s life. “Joe the plumber” stories.

Opposition is OK. How you handle that opposition is most important. Write down every statement they hear and practice creating counter messages. Yes and examples model. 27 words long, can be said in 9 seconds and gives 3 examples. “Yes, we have google and we have so much more because we provide an inviting community space, etc.”

  • Yes, ebook use is increasing and we provide them along with materials in a variety of formats to meet different needs, like audiobooks and large print.
  • Yes, we have a beautiful building thanks to the generous support of the community that serves as a gathering place, learning space, and has a great collection.
  • Yes, we can get popular books from the shared catalog and we buy books that meet the needs of our community.

Power Mapping – understand the power structures of the community and influence those. Work with staff to identify most influential people and businesses along with pathways to connect with these people. Find ways to bring the power brokers into the library as supporters. Example: garden group as supporters, not opposition.

Lab: Identify the most influential people, organizations, or companies in the community (try for 20) and identify someone in the library connected to them, identify one thing the library offers that might interest or solve a problem for them and start extending invitations! This is a GREAT idea for the new strategic planning process.

Facebook Ads to share the library’s ‘Joe the plumber’ story once or twice a year – budget this as publicity. These are effective and we used them occasionally at HVL.

Email campaigns cost times to collect the email addresses. Gather emails all the time – at the desk, at events, story time, from the Web site, through Facebook, etc. Then curate and segment the lists so the news the library sends is targeted and sent once a week. NationBuilder as a possible tool.

Woot! Another certificate. This was a timely one and will help with the strategic planning process.

Building an Effective Learning Culture

Getting started module created by Infopeople and found through the Kansas State Library. Instructors: Lisa Barnhart, Stephanie Gerding, Brenda Hough (Hi Brenda), and Crystal Schimpf.

A learning culture has less emphasis on formal training, more options for informal training, has learning included as a strategic goal and the organization supports learning and growth.

A Learning Culture (LC) can lead to better retention, staff who are curious and seek out learning opportunities, and they will actually apply the new knowledge on the job. A win-win.

Focus more On the Job learning – informal, learned as part of the work (70% of learning is on the job).

Why am I interested in Building an Effective Learning Culture? To fight boredom, to encourage personal and professional growth, and to give staff the skills and knowledge they need to serve the community exceptionally well.

6 Ways We Are Succeeding at Building a Learning Culture:

  1. Training funds are in the budget.
  2. Staff have TIME for learning – this one is harder and you have to build time into the schedule. 1 hour per week
  3. Library has an organized staff development program. Systems for identifying what to learn and how?
  4. Buy-in from leadership regarding the importance of learning. Recognition, encouragement, PILOT programs!! Be creative.
  5. Buy-in from staff. Are staff engaged in skill development?
  6. Implemented successful method for building a LC.

Reflection: My budgets always included funds for training, we organized at least one staff in-service, staff are encouraged to go beyond their job description and explore/play with new ideas (pilot programs), and I assigned the Exceptional Customer Service webinar as part of orientation. Accountability, recognition, and time scheduled for learning would be ways to improve.

Learning Culture Cycle:

Assess > Plan > Design > Learn > Transfer

Assess: Inventory current opportunities and identify gaps in LC. Where can I improve staff learning (logistics and topics)? Set goals and determine building blocks – baby steps.

Planning: Examine and share any current plans. Strategic and Technology plans. Do all staff understand the priorities and how the plans impact their work? Translate community needs to staff – being proactive. Promotes “pro-social, self-motivating behaviors.” Constant learning helps with adaption to change. Model Learning Behaviors – visible commitment by leadership. Motivation and support change – once you determine how to incorporate training/learning and then overcome barriers and recognize/motivate learning. What is each person’s learning style?

Design: Translate plans to execution. Individual learning, peer sharing and collaboration, and reflection on daily work/life experiences. TIME to read, discuss, share, and reflect. “Just in time, just for me, and just in the right amount for me.” Connect with peers in other libraries.
“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey
Create a safe environment for risk taking and experimentation while learning. A “Safe Zone.”
Communicate learning options – accessible, interesting, and compelling. Choices for learning and a way to build on their own experiences. Give time to learn, reflect, and apply their skills. Individual learning plans.

Learn: Learn constantly. Acknowledge that learning is something we are ALWAYS doing. Learning is a priority. People share the experience – adults handle problems by collaborating with others. Is that formal or informal – but support the shared nature of learning. Foster opportunities.
Embrace Innovation! If you are exposed to new ideas and try new things, you will ALL foster innovation (creative problem solving).

Transfer / Application: If you don’t use the new knowledge, did you really learn it? Return on Investment. Ask staff to identify ways to apply the new skills at work. Be flexible and test new ways of doing thing – innovative mindset. Think about how you will use the training before you take it.
Start a conversation – talk about it to reinforce the new knowledge. Share with your team and that also increases accountability.
GIVE Recognition and positive reinforcement. Be specific – what did they do that benefited their work and how? Acknowledge what we’ve already learned.

Reflect: What are 3 ways to support knowledge transfer? I’ve asked staff to share what they learned with co-workers at a staff meeting, we talk about training at the quarterly HAT meetings, Pam is encouraging staff to share notes on the wiki, and I like the idea of a recognition board or silly ‘gold star’ chart.

Rachel Rubin – From Nothing to Something at Bexley Public Library (guest speaker). Need to hear that leadership values learning and that it matters. Make a commitment and open communication informally – build relationships. Database quizzes, in-house training, webinars, meetings, conferences, and hire smart people who are curious and enjoy self-directed learning. How to formalize expectations and keep it fun and give kudos and opportunities to share and engage. Make sure our own training is positive and effective.

What comes next?
Enroll in full BELC academy. infopeople.org/belc


The following resources were shared during this module:

Woot! Earned me a certificate.

2019 Webinar Binge

In PA, a Library Director has to have 10 hours of continuing education and the certificates to prove it. I was bad and didn’t attend any State or National conference this year, so I’m mining WebJunction for webinars.

Above and Beyond: Developing a Culture of Organizational Citizenship with Rachel. G. Rubin, MLIS, PhD, Director, Bexley (OH) Public Library. Slides here.

I enjoyed this one because she brought in outside information and ideas on Organizational Citizenship. I just listened. She talked about how new employees learn about the culture. For us, it’s the “hospitality mentality” and the fact we make every new employee complete the Extreme Customer Service Webinar helps reinforce the ideas and expectations we have. Her ideas and information about employee attitudes are worth hearing.

“Individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and in the aggregate promotes the efficient and effective functioning of the organization.”

Dennis W. Organ & Philip Podsakoff (2006) Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences.

The outcomes of a High Organizational Culture are reduced staff turnover, more innovation and risk-taking, increased productivity, and increased customer satisfaction. She talks about Supportive Supervisors – how they take a genuine interest, appreciate extra effort, give regular feedback and make the job as interesting as possible. The best advice Rachel got about supervision is to be “Direct, Respectful, Courageous.” To encourage a High OCB, give staff the room to make decisions, encourage them to work together, involve staff in decision-making, give them time to catch-up, make sure they have the resources they need to do the job, ensure fair pay and benefits, rear and recognize increases in work, and “create fair and consistent policies and procedures.”

For staffing – select employs who are “pro-social, positive affect, and proactive personality.” She provides great sample questions to get at these traits. Managers and Directors need to be good role model, be thoughtful about the culture being created, hire and reward staff willing to bring about the culture you want, provide training for supervisors, and “communicate well and often.”


Failing in the Right Direction with Joan Frye Williams – Failure that leads to something good. How do you deal with inevitable failure, as it’s a natural part of learning. Children seen failure as the result of an experiment, like a scientist, rather than adults who look at failure as a moral failing or limitation. Scientific success looks at the end result and ending up in the right place, while making necessary adjustments along the way. Are errors and mistakes tolerated along the way? Often in libraries, it’s either “perfect or poop.” Are mistakes looked at as a ‘taint’ or a logical part of the learning process?

Negativity bias – we are wired to not repeat mistakes. What is at stake in a library? Is it life or death? Probably not. But failure can feel bad, especially when “we make incorrect and damaging generalizations.” Distortions can be damaging and hurt you and the organization, as well as any potential success! “If your experiment has failed, does that make you a failure?” NO! Failing is an event. QTIP – Quit Taking it Personally.

When you are failing – have a bias towards action. Leverage it to your advantage and acknowledge the failure in the first place. “More people would learn from mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.” Failure is a wake-up call – but you can’t opt out at this point. Do something. Example of self-check implementation where the whole project was rejected as a failure when only 8-10% of the project actually failed.

Face the music and own up to the failure – take responsibility for making that announcement. “This isn’t going as well as we want.” Resist the temptation to over apologize – it feeds into the expectation of perfection. Don’t apologize for disappointment. Honest mistakes, work the problem, acknowledge the disappointment. “It is not your job to make everyone around you happy or apologize to them every time they are disappointed.” Also fight the distortion, don’t ‘catastrophize’ your disappointment. It doesn’t need a dramatic narrative. It’s probably not “good v. evil.” Evil intent = distortion mode. Fatalism = distortion mode. Totally = distortion. Get out of this mode by reminding yourself why you attempted this in the first place. What were you trying to accomplish? Who would benefit? Is it so worth doing that you are willing to risk some disappointment to make this happen? Make it less about you and more about making a difference to other people.

Figure out What Went Wrong and how to get back on track to get back on goal. Expectations v. actual. Where did things start going sideways? Reconstruct a chain of events. Project management skills key here. Line up the facts – otherwise it’s just an emotional discussion and will play the blame game. Not constructive. Just the facts. Was the failure a problem with the expectations – was it based on evidence or wishful thinking? Write down the expectations from the start and where they come from – the basis for the expectations. Document, document, document. Take those expectations and create a work plan to present back – so you can set yourself up for success with difficulty along the way. Then compare this expectations with the outcomes and find the gaps.

Discover what you can do differently – Plan B! Focus on actions and what YOU can do personally. Go back into creative mode and change it up. “get back on a different horse” Accept ideas and suggestions from other people and maybe abandon what you had planned to do. “How can we?” move away from “why didn’t we?” Dispassionately look at what needs fixed. Change it up and look for an alternate solution.

COMMUNICATE the new approach. Anyone touched by Plan A needs to hear this learning process and the desired outcome of Plan B. Desired outcome, what happened with the initial attempt, what has been changed to address that, and What to expect with a retry – important for your professional reputation. Don’t try Plan B until you’ve communicated about the new plan. Prepare those involved before the launch and make sure everyone knows what’s different and the new approach.

No Plan B? Then Recover and Move on – Let it Go! Avoid being a hostage to the failure. “If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill. Don’t wallow and appreciate that you’re feeling bad but keep going. “Go easy on the self-medication.” Rather, reframe the failure as a single incident – put it in proportion. A single defeat isn’t a final defeat (F Scott Fitzgerald). Revive your self-worth and that you are OK. Hang out with people and have self-compassion. Humor to the rescue? Re-engage your creativity and use that part of the brain. Continue to take calculated risks – fight the negativity bias. Try, try again.

When you’re the boss… Focus on the desired outcome – what is the service outcome – help your staff frame the goal. Link the goal back to the benefit to the people you serve and uphold the organization’s values. Reveal your evolution criteria – articulate what success means. What are the limitations – reveal them from the start. Avoid any “gotchas”. Be open to new approaches, especially if they are uncomfortable or new to you. Coach without micromanaging. Be patient – allow time for things to develop (cat waiting for the mouse). Allow for a period of ambiguity and frustration. Let others fail. Example, first reviews of the Gettysburg address were quite negative.

Offer constructive feedback – talk about the goal, point what worked, do something generous and normalize the failure “OK, everybody has screw ups sometime, be sure to build in more reminders next time.” Coach on how to do better. Confront patterns with direct expectations – turn failure into learning. Mentoring opportunity.

Large some short-term wins. Close-in milestones to build confidence and reinforce that things are back on track. Be overt. Make sure your actions match your words. Help staff find a viable course of action and you have to have their back. Be active in helping them set expectations and recovery when things go wrong. Stay constructive. Be a coach. Reframe the failure and figure out what the next step should be. Help them turn failure into learning experiences. For Board members, make sure that you negotiate expectations up front – how many mistakes are OK on the way to this end goal? How many experiments can we make in our effort to find the best way? What result are you looking for? What outcome? Make sure the Board understands that the means may be uncomfortable for them. Do you have their support? (Pilot projects!) Give them substantive outcomes to focus on – what difference are you making to the people you serve?

It is all work worth doing and even success can be stressful! Walk the walk and talk the talk. Be entrepreneurial.

I love Joan – so glad I listened to this one.


Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – Meaningful Community Engagement with Joan Frye Williams and George Needham. 2012 PDF slides

We need to know what our community wants, even if it doesn’t quite match our image of ourselves as librarians. Demographics are not enough – they don’t predict behavior or give enough specific information about what people want or their information needs. Satisfaction surveys are not that useful for planning data, either. Limits the discussion to just people who like you or use your service. Shuts out anyone who is not using the library. Who speaks for your community? Talk to the movers and shakers and also people we don’t personally interact with in the library. For meaningful input, you need to move to the community scale. Unearth what the community values and know that this changes over time. Who lives in the community now v. who lived there in the past – have your services changed to meet new demands and new community users. Pay attention to what our users value – ask the right questions. Start the community group conversation with “What’s great about living here?” or “Why do people choose to study here?” “If you could change one thing, what would it be?” “What keeps you awake at night?” George says, “To be meaningful, the conversation has to be about what they care about, not what we care about.” If you talk to parents about programs, you say, “what do you want for your kids?” – ask about outcomes and results and then we determine what programs will get them to the desired outcomes. You need to ask personal questions – get human. Ask about values and what they enjoy, but don’t ask about behavior. Bad question: “Where do you hangout on the weekends?” Better question: “What makes a destination attractive to you?”

LISTEN, don’t explain. Don’t try to point out constraints or poo poo the idea. Get their sense of what they care about. No need to educate people. It’s our job to learn about our user. Future – you can ask people to look ahead without asking them to make things up. Analogies – how can the library be more like X, Y, Z. Example, web site redevelopment based on other great sites. Experiences – talk about consumer experiences and ask “Think about a favorite place to shop, what do you like to shopping there?” why do you like to go back there? Is it the people? the hours? the cleanliness? People often describe how the experience made them feel, without prompting it. “They followed me around and made feel like I was gonna steal something.” OUTCOMES – What’s the finish line? A new job? Smart kids? Fun book to read on vacation? Put the people you serve in charge of the desired outcome and look to management to articulate the library’s values and then the STAFF are responsible to identify and implement the tools and techniques. “Hold true to the values and deliver the outcomes.”

How to avoid wasting time – Don’t ask civilians to make predictions about the library. They’ll consider their OWN future, but not ours. Don’t ask for a commitment to services that are non-existent. (If we offer this, will you come??) Don’t bother asking “do you think you’d come to this? They’ll say yes, if there’s no skin in the game. A choice needs to be made with context and consequences.

What does work? How to connect effectively. Community meetings – work on a specific, defined problem (new library site, convenient hours, something concrete) and list criteria for a solution, and THEN talk about the solutions. Present a few or ask for solutions that meet the criteria. Make note of all suggestions – show that you hear all ideas. (Have a staff member with a mic to control time and audio quality.) Supplement with Social Media – pose question in non-library forums. Be involved in other people’s discussions. Regular updates – every week, alerts, and eavesdrop. Effective Interviews – Time consuming, so not a statistically valid.

Elevator questions: Jamie LeRue’s “What’s keeping you awake at night?” “What do you wish you knew more about?” “Who else should we talk to?” Plus “What would tell you that progress is being made on that issue?” added by Joan and George. Notice trends and threads. Just listen, make notes, and compare notes with other interviews. Right what the person actually said – raw material and use it as it comes. Don’t use jargon or translate! Example: “Literacy program” versus, “I need help with my reading.” New billboard said “Get help with your reading” showing a learner and tutor, to emphasize the companionship. Focus Groups – Good if you don’t need consensus, but just want their ideas. Probe a theme or idea or opinion in depth. Also good for small groups like teens, seniors, ESL folks. Have an objective moderator – no emotional responses, have a non-library person be the moderator, but a library observer to record. Limited agenda, 6 questions, less than 10 people, and broad to specific questions.

Surveys are LAST – most are awful and not statistically significant. Survey to be effective: experiential instead of theoretical, give it as close to the experience as possible (exit survey about what you did that day at the library), and have an even number of choices. End with a Thank You for their service (not their time). Especially with elected officials and movers/shakers – the conversation is a form of service and values the input in a different way. Open ended questions are more effective, or pop-up questions on the web after someone has just used it.

How to make sense of the input? Contract for rigorous data collection, if you really need it. All input is NOT created equal – sometimes you have to accept it graciously, but you don’t have to use it. Look for common threads the connect different people in different circumstances. A teen and a senior looking for work are more connected than different. What is horizontal. What surprised you? The Ah-Ha moment. What’s this community all about? “This is a place where people live until they can afford to live someplace better.” Libraries can help with civil service and tech skills, High school graduation, language learning classes – position the library within the community.

Chat question: What if the organization can’t make the changes suggested by the people? The question needs to be ‘what results are you looking for’ and staff are then more open to figure out what library things are needed to help reach that result. Talk to civilians about the RESULTS not the response to deliver those results. Learning from the inaccuracies – what did the civilians get wrong about the library? Just because they don’t know one thing, doesn’t mean they don’t know anything. We need to be the effective communicators. constant engagement with the community should be the rule, not the exception! (Joan is funny and has some strong opinions on the traditional 4-year strategic planning process.) Have the civilians help narrow down the outcomes – reach consensus and do some of the hard work about what the library should focus on doing. 3-8 Big Deal outcomes will bubble to the top.


Service Excellence in Challenging Times with Pat Wagner Slides PDF

Key idea: Evolve and sustain a welcoming library, consistently, for all customers.

Section 1:
Our Roles
Service excellence is everyone’s job, but we may have different roles: Leadership, management, supervision, staff, and internal customer service. Leaders champion causes and initiatives, as well as make decisions, communicate with financial decision-makers, and set priorities. Managers coordinate and maintain consistency within and between departments and buildings and throughout the library. They also are project managers, team leaders, and make sure goals are met. Is weekend service consistent with weekday service? Is everyone on the same page. Supervisors uphold library standards through education and positive reinforcement. They also translate goals into action, support staff decisions, gather input, guide people, and identify and share better staff practices. Maintain consistency with part-timers and volunteers. Staff provide external customer service, and directly serve the customers as your number one job priority. Also collect data and information while serving as either frontline or technical staff. Internal Customer Service is how you treat each other – it will impact how you interact with your library’s customers. Impacts the environment – fix this first. Have good communication and treat each other with courtesy – customers have radar and know if this is good or bad in the library. (Look up resources mentioned.)

Section 2:
The Welcoming Library
A physical and emotional space that people feel good about. Five Principles:
Consistency (everyone is treated with the same courtesy),
Safety for the stranger (grow beyond the tribe and treat strangers like friends – newcomers and longtime friends get the same level of service and keep your politics to yourself),
The details count (how do we treat people? Smiling and saying goodbye is as important as hello – “Everyone who works in the library if they can’t say hello, goodbye, good morning, please, and thank you then they shouldn’t be working in your library)
Partner with customers (Ask your customers for their preferences and advice),
We take this seriously (write the ideas in the plan, take complaints seriously, take action and have follow through).

Customer service is a goal, meaning a priority, in the strategic plan, with specific outcomes, leadership support, budgets, and a plan for evaluation.
How you are going to make people feel good in the library – what will you do? Example, design a department store that welcomes children or a park that is welcoming to seniors. Customer service excellence is a priority for every supervisor and manager. How is what I am doing improving the customer experience? helps prioritize.
Staff exercise:

Section 3
The Ethics of Excellent Customer Service
Ethics is the study of right and wrong – codes related to how we treat people. Fairness, Access, Transparency, Privacy. Do everyone pay fines? Are all books out or are some behind the counter? Is the holds list treated fairly? Are our decisions made in the open? Do staff gossip about patrons and their books?
Self-Awareness chart – do we have unintentional different standards: One for those we know; one for those we don’t. One for those we like; one for those we don’t like. One for those who look and talk like us; one for those who don’t look and talk like us. A matter of respect and self-awareness about consistency. “Go to the library, they will treat you fairly.” Just say no to nepotism.

Welcoming – the details of our behavior
The look on our face, the tone of our voice, the pace of the interaction, the thoroughness of our responses. Do this as a group to become self-aware. Everyone at the front desk say good morning and then tracked the response by customers. We get slack – up our game and see the response. Exercise: Customers as Partners – whom do we ask for advice? Whom do we invite to make decisions? Whom do we neglect to ask? – do we forget or avoid them or do we not know they exist? We may learn things that make us uncomfortable, but this keeps us from becoming smug.

Section 4
Collections, Services, Programs, and Staffing
Partner with our customers – What we acquire (ask for specific book advice), Who we hire (the long-range staffing plan to ensure the people behind the counter look like the community), What we offer (what services are only available at the library and do they want that they can’t get elsewhere?)
Our Physical Environment – invite people with different ages and abilities visit to audit the physical space. How easy would it be to navigate?
Warehouse effect, Signage, Library jargon (How good are you at phonological awareness? on a sign for parents), physical barriers, lighting, staff (speak too softly or quickly?), phone tree, comfort (no place to sit at service desks), cramped (no privacy to talk at service desks)

Next Steps
Support for change – from internal leadership and staff, plus external leadership from the community. Communicate and ask for input and identify community leaders who are also thinking about these issues.
Sacred Cows – what isn’t being addressed that might be holding us back?
You will be judged by your DEEDS
Make small changes and let people know what you are doing and why.

How do we prepare to make unpopular decisions? Communicate!


Active Listening article from mindtools.com
I have a slew of additional webinars to watch: Re-envisioning public libraries, Flexible spaces, Future proofing library spaces, Graphic design for maximum engagement, and Librarian evolution: libraries thrive when we change with Gina Millsap and Thad Hartman from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library back in my home state of Kansas.

Communication Mistakes Only Really, Really Smart or Busy People Make with Pat Wagner from Pattern Research (free webinar)

We are Humans on Planet Earth

Key Idea #1: A High I.Q. is Not an Excuse for Rudeness
Key Idea #2: A Busy Important Life is Not an Excuse for Being Rude

Are smart and busy people human? | I’m important, So I get to be a jerk | Appraising status: The tribal game | Feelings and Opinions – the hyper-logical | Facts, Credibility, and Authority – the hyper-skeptic.
Improve supervisory skills of employees with superior technical abilities | Maintain high standards for civility and courtesy, not just productivity | Attract more high-quality team members for special projects (who want to work with you smartypants)

Are smart and busy people human?
Emotions and Feelings impact us all. Stress factors, family relationships, grief and loss, anger (things we can’t control and blow-up), fear triggered by promises we made, over-committing, and sometimes we pretend we are robots and not human.
Health – we pretend we are bullet-proof. Lack of sleep, poor diet, Rx and recreational drugs, alcohol, and chronic health issues. Learn to take care of ourselves and find ways to release stress.
Work – Triggers: deadlines, lack of resources & perfectionism, over-promising, “management by martyrdom,” crisis mentality creating unreasonable standards, no breaks or vacation days, and uncompensated overtime. Give time for management overhead – talking, listening, taking breaks, catching up, and taking time off for play and fun! “We bring our B+ game.” Uncompensated overtime is a problem – suicide by work and the subsidized workplace. Burnout! Be careful letting the organization get into a position where one person is doing the work of two people.

I’m Important, So…I get to be a jerk
Armored against self knowledge – more than just clueless. Defensive, turn flaws into virtues. A jerk is indifferent to or unaware of how their behavior impacts other people. Do we excuse our flaws as smartness and expect others to accommodate us?
Bad Behaviors:
Late for meetings and deadlines
Cutting off other people’s conversations
Micromanaging and redoing work
Poor teaching, coaching, and supervision
Sarcasm, public criticism, blaming
Grandstanding, dominating conversations
Favoritism: Consistently ignoring/favoring some
Are you apologizing or bragging? do you expect me to waste time? let co-worker mistakes slide? slack off or dumb down so other people can catch up? I am a truth teller, do you want me to lie and pretend nothing is wrong? or not step in and fix things? Do people feel smarter being around you or do they feel more stupid?

Appraising Status: The Tribal Game (small groups/cohorts of people with shared characteristics)

More Dreaming

Visiting Kansas and took many, many pictures of interesting libraries including the Children’s Departments in Manhattan, Topeka, and Bonner Springs. We also peeked through the windows of the soon-to-open new Lenexa branch in Johnson County.

Manhattan Public. Like the outdoor space, graphic signs, and face-out picture book shelving.

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. Amazing art, love how the picture books are divided by topic and are face-out. The aquarium is uber-cool, too.

Bonner Springs – love the sight-lines, trains, and natural stone and wood and fireplace.

Sneak Peek through the windows of the new Lenexa branch. Nice, modern furniture but with touches of natural wood and great graphics.

Library Dream Board

As we consider and ponder a library renovation, we’ve visited libraries near and far for ideas and inspiration. Here are a few favorites.

First: Pottstown – they have a great maker space and I really like the mounted tablet catalog stations.

Second: New Monticello branch of the Johnson County Library (KS). Like the signage, meeting room, green roof, and small-footprint service desks.

Third: This is the Basehor Community Library (KS) and I LOVE the natural finishes, outdoor space (they have a butterfly garden), fireplace, and entry into the children’s department.

Fourth: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA) – Their main floor is very thoughtfully laid out, with the most popular materials near the front door and by the teen department. Very friendly vibe – very customer-focused.

Fifth: Free Library of Philadelphia branch remodels. Everything is mobile, they don’t put spine labels on fiction books, and the service desks are small.  I like the visual signage, as well, that hides acoustic tiles.

6th: Best in Library Design 2018 and 2017 – a hodge-podge of new construction and renovations.

I like the wooden floors and this is a LEED-level new build.

Eastham Public Library – Gold certified LEED building with classic/traditional aesthetic and plenty of amazing views to the outdoors.
Simple, classic furniture in traditional colors and easy-to-care-for leather.
Boston Public – like the bar for reading and computer use.
Natural light, stone, wood, and windows with bench seating. From a great article: Top 5 Library Design Trends from Demco.
Study spaces – control noise, allow for group study, and can be easily monitored.

PaLA: Reputation Management

A proactive, anticipatory and strategic approach with PPO&S – involved before PA Forward was established. Tracy Powelski

PA Forward and PR Marketing committee discussed and offer this to help when dealing with crisis.  “It takes many good deedsto build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” (or something like that from Ben Franklin).

  • Recognize the value of reputation
  • Learn how to enhance and protect a good reputation
  • Be among the prepared minority
  • Assess opportunities and vulnerabilities
  • Identify concrete next steps

What comes to mind when you think about an organization’s reputation?
Trust, how viewed by community, any mishaps, people, how the culture is projected, atmosphere/tone, mission/authenticity, transparency, live up to promise of their brand?

How others perceive you – based upon what they know about your organization’s behavior or past performance.”

Why should you care?
Quantifiable asset – brand loyalty, credibility, funding consequences, recruitment, media coverage, responsibility and ethics.  What role does the library play in your community – recognition and reputation.

Who owns your reputation?
You, your employees, customers, suppliers and partners, board – what experience do people have when they come to your library.

What is the relationship between Reputation and Trust?
Reputation – what people know about you based on past behavior and TRUST is expectation of future behavior based on past behavior.

Reputation Management:

  • Maximizing Good will:
    • Tell Your Story – know what story you want to tell, develop key messages, know the difference between paid and earned communications channels (more impact from earned communications – 3rd party endorsement), take an integrated approach, strategic communications calendar (most impact of SRP, back to school, New years resolutions, day before a snowstorm), consider media training. Community, early literacy, still viable.
      • If you don’t tell your story someone else will tell it for you.
    • Be social in the digital sense – What channels are most appropriate, internal protocols, set clear guidelines, monitor social media, and be prepared for rapid response and before the fire storm hits.
    • Leverage leadership and expertise – Be the subject matter expert, invite thought leaders/legislators for a local tour or event, “tip of the spear when it comes to innovation and information,” build relationships before you need them, don’t underestimate third party awards and recognition, and promote endorsements and testimonials. Don’t take it for granted that people know all you do and ‘how wonderful you are.’ Invite and tell them your role in the community. Trip advisor, Yelp, Google – conversations going on about you. Power of the collective voice shouldn’t be underestimated.
    • Get engaged in relevant issues – What issues are important to us? Security, funding, opioids, homelessness, unattended children, censorship.  Stay informed, lean on public policy leadership, know key influencers, and testify on behalf of your cause.
    • Be visible – think strategically about how to maximize impact, measure and evaluate impact, publish an annual social responsibility report that wraps up and articulates your accomplishments.  We have to let our constituents know how well we are serving them.
    • Engage and communicate with employees/volunteers – foster a culture of trust and transparency, communicate regularly, be sure employees hear news form you, recognize and appreciate your employees, and create a feedback loop for two-way communication.
  • Prepare for challenges:
    • Everyone face funding, labor issues, security reaches, big tech changes, crimes on property, changes in competitive landscape, and peripheral issues “splatter factor” – What do you do to make sure you are a good steward of collection and tax-payer dollars. (Mickey’s weeding program at KLA/MLA comes to mind.) How do you see around the corner and see risk. Contingency planning and scenarios.
    • What are we worried about? children, addicts, homeless, theft and then moves to disruption. Model of the past may not serve us in the future. Worry about the loss of trust and sense of security at the library.
    • People will measure you on how you respond.  Speed, transparency, carefulness – hard to juggle. May forgive one mis-step, but beware of trends.
  • Continually assess:
    • How do you know where you stand?
    • Governance protocols – are we following our bylaws? chain of command
    • Strategic communication plan – key messages prepared and ready when needed
    • Crisis communication plans – right people know their roles and responsibilities?
    • Top-level – tone matters, what’s the culture?
    • Tradition and digital media analytics
    • Scenarios and contingency mapping
    • Social media protocols
    • Employee/internal communications – let people know where we stand and what their role is in the future
    • Community engagement practices
    • Post-issue assessments/debriefs – Example of theft at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Take a look and ask “what lessons did we learn and what did we do right?”  Opportunity for growth.  Learn from our mistakes

A Reputation Audit

  • How we’re perceived
  • How our organization is covered by the media
  • Gaps?
  • How to improve our position
  • Need to update crisis communication plan,
  • Risk Management,
  • succession planning – BIG  Need to talk about it. Can “rock an organization as much as anything.”
  • Spokesperson training/leadership communications
  • Strategic comm plan
  • Learn that you don’t know what you don’t know – need more research
  • Need internal communication platform – MOST OFTEN NEEDED Too externally focused
  • Social media protocols
  • changes in org roles and responsibilities, ex social services in the library, do we have the right people in the right roles

Audit may prevent:

  • litigation
  • loss of funding
  • no confidence vote

Recap: You can fine tune your org’s reputation and improve your potential by:

  • Tell story
  • Your reputation is’t about everything that matters


  • Internal communication audit – explore what the staff wants and how they want it and frequently enough.  A focus group to talk about is a demonstration of your dedication to help solve the problem. Five generations in the workplace – how to communicate among these very different groups – bridge that gap
  • Determine who the spokesperson is – a single voice. Remind staff who that person is. Need to stay on message. How do we get training? Build a scenario and put them on video and escalate, starting with key messages. Confidence building exercise. Have a process in place to help remove some of the anxiety. Public Information Officer training for crisis response and how to talk to the media – talk to your emergency professional. County training offered example – How to get information out on multiple streams – video, FB, etc. But how to handle library flashpoint issues, ex pornography – need this KIND OF TRAINING.  Think about it ahead of time, so you don’t make it worse.
  • OK to say “Let me get back to you” and a key tool – “Let me write your question down and what’s your deadline?”  If ambushed, you can bribe and deflect, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to get back to you on that.” Talk to the police. Don’t confirm or deny. Under no obligation to answer on the fly – don’t be baited. “I can’t comment at this time, but I’ll get back to you.”
  • Train on confidentiality and how to react to the police the same as we react to the media. Similar tactics. Everyone should know the protocols. SWPLA – support staff as ambassador’s training in November. Need to be careful about what you say and how you say it. The interview is NEVER over or only over when you hang up the phone. Don’t let your guard down. OK to ask for a correction – you misquoted me.
  • Have some canned talking points available on hot-button topics. SCRIPTS. Leak through a trusted source or person in media you have a positive relationship.
  • Convey ALL OF THIS TO YOUR BOARD – They will be called and they will need to answer.
  • How do you address an issue after-the-fact. Aftermath and rebuild trust? Let people know that it’s not your policy to communicate during an active investigation. The protocols. Cooperating closely with law enforcement and their directive.





PaLA: Successful Libraries

Panel of Librarians from various types and sizes of libraries, also with various organizational types.

David Belanger, facilitator, started us out by discussing the many, many configurations of libraries in Pennsylvania. We will learn the pros and cons of there configs and how it impacts their success.

Cathi Alloway: State College library the only library governed by a Council of Governance – loose consortium of government entities (municipalities/counties).  Usually they manage coordinated road projects, but bigger COGs do more including the library.  Library has to go to the finance committee (39 elected officials) and each municipality pays a portion based on circulation. Standard and predictable funding formula. COG handles personnel and other centralized services. There are 84 COGs in the state – if interested, go to a monthly meeting. Cathi feels they are underutilized.

Amy Geisinger: DLC in New Castle. Federated library systems – there are many, but they are different. Serve all residents of their county – benefit. Standards of expectations and similar rules/regs. Have independent Boards that may conflict with over-arching Board regarding policies and procedures. Can gear your programs and materials to your direct service area – don’t have to be county-wide programs.  Have more independent control. Tension…an issue in most FLS’s – difficult to make consolidated decisions.  Funding issues – county money, but municipalities may feel they can provide less local funding. Struggle to get the funding you need. Pros – work together to provide consistent service, but struggles of an independent library and doing everything on your own.

Nicole Hemline: Monroeville PL, Municipal department. Receive 70% funding through city, but also part of a federated system. “Department when convenient.” Gives Council a sense of ownership. Vested. Employee benefits are wonderful – same pool as union employees. Fringe benefits – snow, grass, HR questions, Lawyer, Finance support. “Sometimes the red-headed step child.”  Built-in partnership with Senior Center and Parks & Rec – greater reach. In the loop of Community needs and awareness of city issues.  Drawbacks: politics and dealing with Council and Mayor (may insert pressure), more red tape, slower decisions/procedures to be followed, answer to a lot of people – Board, Mayor, Municipal Manger. False sense of security and complacency a risk. Not a 501c3 – need a Friends group or Foundation. Lots of Communication a pro and Showing Up is a “huge deal”.  Show up at Council meetings and slowly build relationships and bring solutions and not just asks for money.

Rob Lesher: Former ED of Dauphin County Library System – Consolidated Library System (CLS) and also at a FLS. Takes advantage of efficiencies – ONE admin unit runs the system. CLS – usually county-wide level. One Board of Directors, selected at-large from throughout the county. One set of elected officials you are responsible. Consistent message. Con: Having just the one group, funding can be a challenge. Rogue politicians who could have a huge impact on funding. Need to ensure positive relationships. CLS has staff consistency – everyone trained together at one time. But, you have multiple locations and need to be able to move staff around the county. Opportunities to have consistent branding/messaging. Central library/branches – patrons identify with the building that they go to and the branding may not relate to the county, but the local branch. Streamline planning, as well. Ownership of multiple buildings – maintenance!  When planning, impacts financial needs.

Cindy DeLuca : Rural local independent library in the Poconos. 501c3 – 110 years old from a lady’s club. Small budget for 85 years – now budget over $300,000 because of local tax referendum funding.  Went to super voters in a primary election and in 73% voted YES.  Must rely on local support – “have to grow up and realize that.”  Go back for more $$ every 10 years – don’t wait. Climate of tax payers change.  Fundraise – a difficult part, but have 2 family foundations that help underwrite funding. Small, rural – it’s all about knowing people, donors, and you have to ASK.  Board of 10, with 4 from municipalities. Pros: Effect change immediately and easier to initiate new services in response to the community.  People feel vested in their community library – ownership – they paid for it!  Also ability to collaborate. Cons: Funding impacted by real estate values. Staff issues and HR – can’t afford crazy expensive benefits. Lots of part-time employees and low pay. Dependent on budget and challenges are same as, just a different scale. Local Funding and always create positive relationships.

Patrons don’t care – they just want their stuff, but we need to be aware and consider new relationships to improve service (as suggested by Christi, director of PaLA) – and “be stronger when you leave today.”

How to you manage perceived competition from a funding formulas in a federated system. Amy – I have no idea!  Always an issue that you compete for funding. Have to work together and coordinate who you tap and then share the funding. How do you work toward the greater good?  David suggests you Start the conversation agree to decide what the formula will accomplish – everyone gets a little, do you have a service goal, is it based on use – general discussion of philosophy. Law suits have happened.

Cons for COG structure? No, except it is a lot of work for the elected officials. Lots of meetings, many Boards to report to, including a Foundation board. Life of emails and meetings. Like it and encourage libraries to look into COGs. So much time spent on inter-library squabbles! PA is 49th in local funding, but with D.C., we are 2 from the bottom 🙂

Has anyone had experience with transition from one to another structure. Nicole moved from a 501c3 to FLS to Municipal. Constant fundraising and tight cash flow. Always projected a deficit, but never ran it. FLS squabbles. Like having experience of show your value.  Prove ourselves everyday regardless of what type of library you have. Springfield Township went from 501c3, but in 2007 changed to Township department. Governing Board turned into an Advisory Board, but that transition was hard for the Board.  Her boss became the  Manager and Council. “Born on the wrong side of the street.” What made the Township agree to take it over?  Driven by 2003 state funding cut – Township said they’d make up the difference, but then the 2nd cut the Board asked the Township to take over the library.  Nothing in writing – so hard to get money.

No change of a Federated to Consolidated since 1980 – Dauphin County. – Peters Township just changed from Indep. to Municipal government, but still part of a federated system. Joys of being a Commonwealth.

Why don’t we create a PA Think Tank and restructure our libraries. NY does it better (most based on school district boundaries and referendums are common). Tap into the collective to find better ways of organizing libraries.  “Very dug in.”  Be open minded. In preparing for Library Legislative Day – handout about library funding in PA. 85% of our libraries are 501c3s (Maine is 2nd with 55%). We have to be fundraisers, as well as library directors. “With increased funding and support, libraries will move PA forward.”

Changes can be incremental – Maybe they won’t increase your revenue, but ask them to take ownership of other services (grass, snow removal, etc.)

Wayne County library alliance – county saves us. Failed referendum. Population now more interested in local funding – many new residents from NY/NJ and different expectations of service and funding. Farmers would get hammered, but puts the funding in terms of pizza and soda!  Repealed tax after referendum was passed. Study said support is currently at 48%.

In some small, rural areas money is getting tighter. What happens if the library closes? Transition? change ownership? Robin took on a library as a branch. All cons in the beginning, but starting to see a few pros. Communication between Council, Manager and Residents was poor – they didn’t know anything. Came in and ‘took over’ and fired ‘beloved staff’ and ‘shut the library down’ (to do keystone grant upgrades). So now have new staff, better positive press.  Community beginning to change perception. Must have BUY IN from the council, not just the city manager.

PaLA: Digital Analysis of Your Physical Materials

Reading Public Library – Physical Collections Analysis 2018 with Carl Long & Mike Najarian

What is it?

  • Digital Analysis – Catalog/ILS, SQL (Polaris reports), & Excel spreadsheets – of Physical, print/non-print materials
  • Utilize SQL if needed for huge or customized reports (We need to talk to Mike about his SQL reports!!)  http://readingpubliclibrary.org/sql
  • Excel Pivot table – ‘a magical thing’ provides quick-sums of a larger table of data
  • Excluded lost missing, withdrawn, etc., but include held, in transit, in repair, etc.
  • Analysis of usage statistics as a key point of collection development

Why and Who should Do This?

  • Humans have a difficult time with large numbers (apple v. cornflakes)
  • Base decision on evidence, not instinct
  • Inexpensive and expeditious after the first time.
  • Everyone should – especially small libraries with limited funds
  • Assess if collection is meeting user needs, reduce subjectivity, steer the ship

Why Do this?

  • Print isn’t dead and we should manage what we have until it is actually obsolete. Helps with bias.


  • Analyzing library collections with Excel by T. Greiner
  • Clean up data.
  • Then I quit taking notes because I was too busy listening!  Pivot tables are awesome and I can’t wait to try this method…if we can get the initial data dump from Polaris.

PaLA: Employment Law in the Library

Phil Miles from McQuaid Blasko Attorneys at Law. Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. lawofficespace.com

Three Points:

  • Sexual Harassment (#MeToo)
  • Accommodations for Religion and Disability
  • Wage and Hour (overtime and exemptions)

Sexual Harassment

  • “firestorm of allegations of rampant sexual misconduct that have been closeted for years, not reported by the victims.” – Minarsky v. Susquehanna County
  • Prima Facie Elements – harassment based on protected class, hostile work environment or  “tangible employment action, such as being fired
    • Severe or pervasive harassment – assault v. inappropriate jokes. frequent conduct over a period of time
    • Offensive and Unwelcome – objectively offensive by a reasonable person v. subjectively offensive – is it true, is the person making the claim actually offended.
    • Who is doing the harassment? Supervisor is anyone with power to take a tangible employment action (change pay, hire, fire, etc.). Default is that employer is liable if a Supervisor is guilty of harassment.
      • Vicarious Liability, BUT…
        • Training for supervisors and make clear all avenues for reporting harassment. Chain of command option (Supervisor) and outside that chain option (Board)
        • Policy with clear procedures – and reports go to person with understanding and authority to take action
      • Affirmative Defense – did the employer do ‘in their defense’ to escape liability?
        • employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassment; and
          • What did you do when you found out about it? How did you investigate it? Was the response retaliatory?
        • Plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of an preventive or corrective opportunities.
          • Employee doesn’t report it or tells HR not to do anything
  • unwelcome harassment
  • Harassment by Co-worker or Third Party – can be held liable for customer harassment or a Board member
    • Negligence Standard: didn’t act reasonably
      • Employer knew or should have knows about the harassment; and
      • Employer failed to take prompt and appropriate actions to stop the harassment. Employer should take reasonable action – warnings, investigations – but not obligated to stop the harassment.
        • Harassment in a public place question (patron) – there is a criminal harassment law, but a ‘really high bar’. Employer has to try and stop the harassment.
    • Minarsky v. Susquehanna County
      • Policy in place, employer gave the plaintiff the policy, the employee failed to report the harassment and the employer fired the harassing supervisor.
      • Employer still liable! Why?  Other employees had reported inappropriate comments, employer still allowed plaintiff to work alone with supervisor and probably should have known better.  Given current climate, the situation was interpreted differently and the employer was liable. Employer could talk with the plaintiff, make sure they aren’t working alone, etc. “known or should of known” – common knowledge of a groper, for example. Employee didn’t report out of fear of being fired or retaliated against.
      • How do we investigate this? Talk to the reporter – any witnesses? Any supporting docs? Follow up with accused. Maintain confidentiality, if possible.


  • Religion; and
  • Disability
  • Prima Facie Elements: have or had a disability; qualified for the position; employer knew or should have known about the need for an accommodation; and a reasonable accommodation exists, but the employer failed to provide it.
  • Examples: deafness, blindness, mobility issue; intellectual disability, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder; HIV, cancer
  • Obligation: engage in interactive process. Employee expresses the need and talk with employee about functions and best way to accommodate them. Just need to know what they can’t do and how can employer help them do it. Doesn’t have to be the accommodation the employee suggests – if it’s an undue hardship, you may not have to implement an accommodation.
    • OK to ask – are you able to complete essential functions of the job. With conditional employment, you can assess their abilities
    • Employee has to be qualified – perform essential functions as described in job description. We can request a medical certification that they can do the job (hearing test requirement) – based on our observations that there are essential functions that cannot be done.
    • Undue Hardship – significant difficulty or expense in relation to the size of company, its resources, and the nature of its operations. “Unduly, costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive or that would require fundamental alteration of the nature or operation of the business.”
  • Religious beliefs – existence of a sincere religious belief or practice that conflicts with an employment requirement. Employer was informed. Employee suffered an adverse employment outcome.
    • Atheism and agnosticism included in definition of religion. must be sincerely held (look for contradictory behavior), “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief…”
    • Undue hardship analysis – church of body modification people working at costco – take them out or cover them up.  Costco won when people wouldn’t do that.
    • Easier to establish undue hardship for religion.  With religion – also ask if they cannot meat the requirements of the job (dress policy, days they work)
    • Add working with diverse groups is an essential function – you may have to serve people with beliefs that are different than you.

Wage and Hour

  • Min Wage ($7.25) and if they work more than 40, pay them time-and-a-half ovetime
  • Overtime – 150% of regular rate for hours over 40 in work week. Work week is a fixed and recurring period of 7 consecutive days. Regular Rate is total compensation divided by total hours. How do you calculate salary?
  • White collar exemptions
    • Executive – Salary of $455/wk. Manager, Authority to hire/fire. Direct the work of 2or more full-time employees (or equivalent).
    • Administrative – Salary of $455, office work related to management, exercises discretion and independent judgment.
    • Learned Professional – People with advanced degrees, Salary of $455/wk. predominantly intellectual work in character, and entails the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment.
  • Proposed Pennsylvania regulation:
    • Min. salary amount is increased to $610 per week, to $766 per week 1 year after the effective date; and $921 per week 2 years after the effective date.

Q & A

  • Evaluations – Why do them, they can be demoralizing, and you should handle conflicts at the time they occur.  Provide feedback in absence of constant feedback, Opportunity for additional input by others, Helps prevent litigation because it makes bad performance known to employee. Evaluation needs to reflect reality, be honest critiques, and show areas of employment. Measurable outcomes – objectively verifiable – better than subjective statements. Replace it with an ongoing method to record positive and negative. Is it in Policy to do evaluations?  If so, open up library to liability.
  • “Off the Clock” resources – Either work off the clock or buy things without asking for reimbursement. Exempt employees can work off the clock – salaried. Non-exempt employees and hourly employees have to be paid for work that employer knows about or should know about. Date stamp of emails could prove they’re working at home.  Obligated to pay them if we know about it. If we have reason to know the time sheet is wrong – we have to look into it and pay them.
    • You can be salaried and non-exempt.
    • Discipline for working after being told not to work from home. Putting the employer at risk for liability and unpaid overtime.
    • Volunteers – has to be truly voluntary and there not be an expectation for pay
      • Can off-set hours in the same week.
    • 40 hours per week – anything over in one work week – is overtime.
    • What about staff reviewing emails and texts? De minimis – depends on the amount of time spent (10page email sent at 8 pm v. responding to an email.)
    • Pay in 15-min increments and round – as long as it doesn’t systematically discriminate – come in 5 min early or late.
    • Non-exempt to conference – what is required to do, paid for travel during work time, but not paid for entire time here – what time benefits the employer? Paid for that time.
  • Resignation – Can you fire someone with a mental illness who has been missing continuous shifts?
    • If missing work because of a health issue – are you covered by FMLA?  Request or tell employee that we believe you’re missing work and need a medical certification. ADA covers mental illness – obligation to provide reasonable accommodation, as long as it doesn’t impose an undue hardship. Showing up may be an essential function of the job!  Depends on job, library, etc.
    • Moral concern – could we be making it worse by asking for medical certification!  Ask if they need leave and let them know you are willing to provide it OR ask if we can work with them and that showing up is necessary.  Treat them the same as others who call in sick?
    • If forced to resign, may still get unemployment comp. But would need to be available for other work. Problems caused by employer, but still able to work in a different environment.
  • Sick leave and Scheduling
    • Have a policy that constitutes sick leave – define it. Is it PTO or a benefit restricted to health-related reasons.
    • How do you know when it is being abused?  Suspicious usage can require doctor’s notes moving forward. Find patterns. A one-off or isolated incident can be documented in case it happens again.
    • Provide incentive program – pay out unused.
    • Is there a right to use sick leave? Must be consistent with policy.
    • Same FMLA and ADA concerns – what is the underlying issue? Do they need leave or accommodation.
    • Can you send a sick person home?  If it’s related to a  disability it might cause a fight, but not a strong risk. Have in policy about when you can be sent home (contagious, infectious, unable to do the essential functions).
    • Can require medical certification – look at EEOC for resources on exams and such.
  • Board Member and Personnel Files
    • Directors can inspect corp. records and documents and review the documents of the entity.  There’s a specific law. Fiduciary duties require you to see these files.
    • Personnel files are not inherently confidential. Medical files ARE confidential – Keep it in a separate file/place.
    • Employee has a right to view their personnel file.
  • Board Members and Empolyees
    • What’s allowed to be said in a meeting about employees? What is allowed to be said?
    • Defamation issue – If you say something damaging to a persons reputation and it isn’t true. Subjective statements are opinion. If accused of a serious crime – there is a presumption that it hurts a persons reputation.
    • Frame it factually – “We’ve had issues with money missing, conducting investigation, Jane saw John remove money, and the money goes missing during John’s shift.”  No accusation, just the facts.
    • Common interest privilege – discuss something for mutual benefit.
    • Don’t over-publicize – email to all is sending info more broadly than needed.
  • Guns
    • Can an employer make a policy that employees are not to bring guns or other weapons to work, even if properly licensed?
    • Certain sensitive areas, like government buildings, where you can allow banning of guns – Justice Scalia
    • Weapons allowed in public spaces in PA if properly licensed.
    • State laws pre-empt local laws.
    • Private libraries can ban guns, more easily. Public Library as a ‘sensitive place’ and regulate employees.
  • Employee
    • Staff person working 40 hours AND 18 hours for cleaning. Over time for 2 jobs? Yes, probably…but…if 40 hour a week job is exempt, then just include cleaning as duty.  If non-exempt, then they have to be paid for hours beyond 40 hours.
    • Regulation: Agree ahead of time to pay different rates for 2nd job. cleaning job at different rate. Then 150% of different rate for overtime – get it in writing.
    • Kids coming to help and performing work for benefit – violate child labor laws.
    • Board approved it.
    • Very concerning.
  • Posters
    • Required – yes, just buy the poster.
    • Laws have different posting requirements
    • Can get it from payroll company, often
    • e-Laws poster advisor online at Dept. of Labor
  • Discrimination
    • Employers with less than 15 employees can get away with discrimination – true?
    • Title VII and ADA cover 15 or more employees. Federal statutes.
    • State Human Relations Act – applies to employers with 4 or more employees.
    • Public employees covered by constitution amendments, both state and federal
    • PA says if you have less than 4 employees and are private, you may have a defense available to you.
  • Time
    • Comp time, flex time, overtime
    • Allow discretion over employee schedule. Can work Mon-Thur. 10 hours instead Mon-Fri 8 hours. No overtime.
    • Comp time prohibited for private employers, generally.
    • Public employer – have to have agreement in advance, cap it – can only earn XXX and have to pay out the balance at separation.