More Edgy Librarian

Edgy Librarian Webinar Archive featuring Gina Millsap, Topeka & Shawnee County Public LibraryAdditional Notes from Feb 1, 2012#edgylib

We finally got the archive, so I can listen and take notes from Gina’s presentation.  Woot!

Tough Times Call for Tough Librarians

  • The Library is about the Staff who serve the people who use the library
  • Reductions: 6% to staff,  55% from the book budget and 80% funding to storytime
  • User fees, discontinued book mailing (after 20 years), and asked for money from Friends
  • 2012 restores collections budget
  • Gweneth A Jones – Daring Librarian Blog – Lady Gaga Librarians!  Have a presence.
  • What makes a librarian tough?
    • Tough: resilient, strong, scrappy, resolute, hardy, able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking
  • That’s our profession – We are all of these things!  We haven’t given up!  We still connect people, transform lives, but the ways we provide services, collections and programs will continue to evolve.
  • Customers– Know our customers – their needs/wants – Hospitality – From transaction to interaction.
    • Be customers and understand what it’s like to to experience the library as a user!
  • Consultants – Information consultants, not mediators.  Gina says we should be experts.
  • Convenience – Make it priority to provide materials/services ‘when, where and how people need them’ – understanding that that will change over time.
    • Branches are expensive and permanent. Dispensers for books, films and games and lock boxes for reserves that people can pick up when it is convenient to them are less expensive and MOBILE.
    • Bookmobiles are also coming back, b/c of flexibility.
  • Communicate– Talk to customers in the way that works for them.  Chat reference.
    • Confer, advice and consult.
  • Create– original content. Show what we can do for them (video, podcast, etc.)
    • Show what we can do AND who we are.
  • Change – Anticipate and manage change with strategic planning and by actively looking for the ‘next big thing.’
    • Our brand is READING, not books.  Audio, eReaders, print books, etc.
    • What is our plan to deal with the library as a living organism?
  • Connect – Share our expertise and personalities.  Make personal connections and share the library as library users.
  • Current– What do we do about Apple, Google and Amazon taking control of eContent?  How do we maintain user privacy?   What’s the impact of leasing v. owning eBooks?
    • Stay current through “Environmental Scanning, Experimenting and providing experiences that mimic and draw on what people like best on the web and in a physical space.” 
    • Be in the content business – content that is important to our local communities.
  • Collaborate – Find Partners and ways to ‘leverage resources to provide better collections, services and programs.’ 200+ community partners. Wisdom of Crowds.
  • Continuous Improvement– Analyze how, what, who and make changes to meet expectations.
    • Reviewing, revising and refocussing.
  • Take ChargeSecrets of Facilitation – Help smart groups of people work together to make good decisions.  Help people solve problems and make tough decisions – start by asking great, hard questions.

Tough Libraries… 

  • Build a shared visionThe Leadership Challenge – 5 practices of leadership – how do you contribute to where we are going?
  • Implement the vision with a Plan.
    • Strategic, has clear goals and sets the task list for the future.  TSCPL’s is written in second person – its about them, not us.
    • “Our Vision: You know us and we know you, you trust us, you are proud of us, you inspire us and you can’t read enough (for us)”
    • Plan outlines what the library WILL do, WON’T do and the resources needed.
  • Collective Wisdom – Lead by drawing of the ‘collective knowledge, creativity and expertise of those around you.’
    • Encourages innovation, leads to effective problem solving, increases productivity, promotes employee engagement/ownership and rewards doing the right thing.
  • Scan the Environment– Know what’s going on locally to internationally!  Know about those things that impact libraries – creates a context for planning and decision making.
  • Listen to Customers and learn all we can about them – Market based on data – Direct customer feedback – market segmentation.
  • Invest in Staff– Need the expertise, skills and authority to fill the library’s mission and vision. Invest in training.
    • Focus learning on core values – customer service, communication, diversity.
    • PLAY and Experiment with technology.
    • Model life-long learning ourselves.
  • Commit to Being the Best – The Fifth Discipline– Benchmark against those they consider the Best.
    • Continuous improvement. Look at how we can do our work better.  Reduce inconsistencies, remove value-less activities, improve satisfaction and grow the customer base.  System’s thinking and Process improvement.  80% of all problems in organizations cased by process, not people.
    • View library as a living organism, interconnected/interrelated. Great people working in flawed systems.
  • Organize Around the Work – Redesign and reallocate based on actual work being done…after you’ve determined goals and standards.  Avoid silo-ing. Discover root causes of problems rather than patch them with technology.


  • Children’s Library mural painted by a staff member!  Paints one week per month.  Local artist offered to create planets of the galaxy out of blown glass – only charging for materials!
  • Living Room – Public spaces reorganized – removed big reference desk and replaced with tables and chairs and face-out merchandising.  People use the library as their office. “The big move.”
  • Neighborhoods – Dewey running in the background of ‘browsing havens we call neighborhoods.’  Organized by Topic – Weddings, lawn and garden, health and wellness. New neighborhood = checkouts increase from 25 to 40%…that’s unheard of in adult Non-fiction.  Team effort with corporate sponsorship. Hallmark sponsors the wedding hood
  • The Edge – one of 2 teen spaces, designed by the kids themselves.
  • Make choices based on what is most important for the community.

“Books, buildings and cool technology are all important, but the most important asset of the 21st Century library is its 21st Century librarians.”Gina Millsap


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