PLA Moving on from Dewey in 10 Steps

Moving on From Dewey with Debbie Walker and Diane Macklin.  The public library in Markham, Ontario, Canada changed from Dewey to C-3, “Customer Centered Classification” and discussed how that unleashed transformations and innovations throughout the library.  Important stat: Their turnover rate is 6.0 – that’s huge and means people are finding and checking out more of their collection.


  1. Know with it’s over – they realized that the book warehouse model was dying.  Library competition from bookstores (back in 2007 when they made this decision), coffeeshops, and even pet stores were doing storytime.  Desire to merchandize and use subject categories.  Dewey jumps around – for example “Fixing up your back yard” covers 5 different ranges. 80% of Library users are browsing and Dewey was designed for closed stacks.  The library looked at BISAC bookstore categories – and figure they have LOTS of Market Research behind them.
  2. Learn from the Competition – Think like a business and like a customer.  The General public has NO CLUE about Dewey. New Americans may not even have public libraries, let alone understand Dewey. People want self-service and convenience.
  3. Think Like a Customer – create a library that is easy, convenient and ‘findable’.  C-3 is word-based with a 4-digit number code based on customer-friendly subject categories.  Feedback – it was so intuitive, many didn’t realize they’d made a change.
  4. Learn About Risky Behavior – They had a very short timeline during a renovation and created the system in 6 weeks.
  5. Think Lean – start small, but think big
  6. Engage Staff – “Dewey meets merchandising”.  Had many debates, such as how to categorize dogs – an animal, so in Science and Nature or Family, so in Lifestyle & Family?  Family won.  Received positive feedback from staff – looked nicer and was more efficient for shelvers and staff pulling the pick list.
  7. Let Go of Perfectionism – Trial and error to get the system right. Used temporary spine labels to allow for re-categorization.
  8. Expect the Unexpected – Didn’t realize how much easier and more efficient the new system would be for materials handling.  Sorting, shelving and locating materials easier for patrons and staff.  Improved the NF turnover rate.
  9. Nourish the culture of Innovation – Foster creativity.  Find better solutions to problems. Encourage divergent thinking. Make it a Creative Library – game playing at staff meetings, stand up meetings where you walk and talk to encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking and problem solving.  “Fail Camp” initiative – encourages staff to try new ideas with support and without penalty.  Encourages risk-taking.
  10. Springboard to Future Innovation – Not stopping with C3 – using it to spark new ideas.  Such as…

Learning Place Model – Revamped and streamlined programming.  Looked at the old, labor-intensive model and realized there was MUCH competition in the community and overlap.  The Rec center, bookstores, and schools were offering similar programming as the library.  Decided to ‘start with the end in mind’ and focus programming on their Core Purpose – Literacy and Technology.  All programming delivers the library’s message.  Some programs are fee-based and every program has documented outcomes, even lap-sit storytime.  Value: incorporate all learning styles, offer programming that complements the classroom. Examples: Public Speaking, Creative Writing.  Use unemployed new teachers to deliver consistent programming across the system.

Customer Service Revolution – Started with ‘good’ customer service but wanted to improve.  Asked, “Do you make things easy for your customers or your self?”  They Questioned Everything.  For example, 5:00 closing time stressed out staff, who pushed patrons out the door.  They adjusted some staff so their shift ended at 5:15, removing that stress and providing a better experience for customers.
Asked – “What do your rules say about you?”  Discovered in questioning everything that may rules were old, they confused patrons or made no sense to the large immigrant population who uses their system.  Changed code of conduct into “Customer Promise”  We Will Work Together for a Positive Experience.  Promise made by both staff and patrons – expectations.
Staff talked about great customer service experiences and themes emerged:

  • Personal
  • Attentive
  • Friendly
  • Approachable

Wanted to provide seamless service from beginning to end.

Create the Experience + Build the Relationships + Exceed the Expectations = Excellent Service


  • Bookstores had the market research, so they felt comfortable using BISAC model.
  • Children’s NF included child-friendly category names and additional categories like “Dinosaurs” and “Fairy Tales.”
  • Size of the collection required a word and number system. Also found that immigrant population were better served by including some numbers. Also have category signs over the stacks with pictures and ‘shelf talkers’ or descriptions on the shelves themselves to help browsing.
  • Can be used with linear shelving, but works better with mobile shelving to allow clustering and flexibility.


PLA People with Soft Skills

People with Soft Skills with Cheryl Gould an Sam McBane Mulford

She had us start with a creativity exercise and then shared that:

  • 98% of 2nd graders consider themselves creative
  • 50% of 5th graders consider themselves creative
  • 2% of Adults consider themselves creative (how sad)

How often do we judge?  “Play is the highest form of research” – Albert Einstein

Hard Skills – ability to perform a task v. Soft Skills – ability to interact effectively with others

Customer Service Skills

  • Initiative and responsibility
  • confidence
  • smile on the phone
  • Look Up! Be attentive – make eye contact and smile
  • Use conventions – please, thank you, you’re welcome
  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Humor
  • enthusiasm
  • approachable
  • Tact
  • Willingness to try
  • Creative
  • Open body language
  • Positive
  • Patiences
  • Flexibile
  • Observant
  • Curious
  • Self-aware
  • Unjaded
  • Innovatove

Foundational Skills – Bridge to Anywhere – Learnable Set of Skills:

  • Be Present
  • Listen non-judgementally
  • Accept offers
  • Reframe failulre
  • Take Risks
  • Support you partner
  • Yes, and..

Benefit from Diversity of Opinions!

Play pen game – think w/out a box – what is this pen? A toy? A  hair holder? A tool to impale someone with? “Yes, that’s exactly what it is.”

Build on ideas – spark off what someone said – ideas are open to all.

What gets in the way?

  • Time
  • Small
  • Talking over each other
  • Poor communication
  • Policies
  • Judging environment
  • Distractions
  • Lack of shared goals

Book to read: Creating We

If you ask a question, listen to the answer and Be Respectful!

Social: Why our Brains are Wired to Connect by Matthew D. Lieberman – You need to SHARE Information ACROSS the Silos

  1. Recognize that there is a problem – did you just piss someone off?
  2. Feel safe enough to say why they are upset
  3. Admit mistake and apologize

Speed of Trust Communication and trust – costs of having low trust in an organization are HIGH. Low trust = expensive checks and balances and road blocks

How do you have safe feedback  Notice it in yourselves.

What’s good about That? Game:

  • Support partner
  • Yes, and skills
  • Find something to appreciate about what the person just said and build on it and add to what the person who just spoke said.
  • Easy to implement

Final thoughts:

  • Notice when you are judging yourself – not being present or not listening
  • Play! It’s good.
  • Have a walking meeting – get you out of your comfort zone and stimulate creative thinking.
  • Make it safe to ask for help and/or admit a mistatke
  • Get 360 degree feedback
  • Make things fun
  • Make it less serious

NEW TedTalk to watch: tony Robbins about feeling significant



PLA Living the Mission Statement at Mid-Continent

ConverStation program with Mid-Continent Library System with Steve Potter

You must be able to memorize your mission statement. If it’s too long, it’s a manifesto!

Why is a good Mission Statemetn good?  What makes it good?

  • active voice
  • positive
  • short
  • built around action verbs and actionable
  • succinct
  • motivationa
  • specific
  • no jargon
  • Who is it for? staff or patrons?
  • “Bump up decisions against it” – Mickey
  • Know your audience – is this an internal or external document
  • Example: “uncensored equal access for all citizens.”
  • Statement should get to the Why? then the How? and then the actual work (like Sinek says)
  • Broad enough to be open to opportunities but narrow enough to focus you and your organization


  • Succinct v. broad with a Vision statement to focus the money and financials?
  • What’s is use?
  • What is specific to libraries – what do we do that is unique and important enough to put in a vision?
  • Avoid fluff
  • Avoid jargon
  • Hard to find the WHY – Curiosity, open access, enjoyment.  Look at Anythink Mission – “We Open Doors for Curious Minds.”

Strategic Priorities – do they go Under the statement?

  • Do not be hap-hazard
  • Broad and inclusive – then narrow the mission later or with other elements
  • Foundation – core beliefs.
  • Too broad manes you can’t measure success
  • Ho do you show success and impact?
  • Experience? Learning? Early Literacy? Meeting Place? Community Center?
  • Create KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. Benchmarks – How what you do impacts the Big Picture
  • Becomes a Cultural Project – what kind of organization are you?
  • Nordstroms v. Library — 1 page of guides v. multiple binders
  • Intellectual freedom, fairness, integrity – HIRE for CULTURAL Fit.
  • To live the mission – how do we communicate it?
  • Branding – Ritz Carlton Example… Can you articulate the vision/mission?

How do you communicate it?

  • Paint it on the wall like ALA does!
  • Talk about it at meetings
  • Activities and games to learn the statement
  • Add to job descriptions and add it ass a measurable – “promote mission statement”
  • Desktop, Facebook, Website, Etc.
  • Learn where you fit in this Library Tribe
  • How do you indoctrinate the Board??

PLA 2014 Most Dangerous Idea of All

Most Dangerous Idea of All: Change from the Ground Up

with Rivkah Sass from Sacramento Public Library Director and Brian Auger from North Jersey. View resources and presentation.


  1. The air is not purer on the admin floors – make as many if not more mistakes. Own it, acknowledge, learn from it and move on.
  2. Good ideas come from everyone and everywhere.
  3. The chain of command can be used as an excuse to avoid taking action. Work together to fix things! Better off sharing information.
  4. We all have good intentions. Obligation to tell a story about the library system to everyone they contact: who are we, what do we do and why is it important? And a responsibility to come up with creative solutions. Reward that.
  5. We all want to do good work.
  6. We all want to be values for doing our jobs.
  7. Great libraries encourage ideas.
  8. We all look good when we all look good. – Lead from every position – learn from risk-taking – it’s recognition – no retaliation!

Building a Strategic Plan from the Ground up at the Somerset County Library System:

  • To build your future, look at your present and your past.
  • Dump SWAT, use Appreciative Inquiry method/approach.
  • Focus on What’s Working and What do we do well and enjoy? What motivates us? Gather Staff and community perspective.
  • Director found a consultant, named a facilitator to work with steering committee (all stratum) and got out of the way.
  • Facilitator captures, recorded and communicated back to staff all the ideas discussed. Director stayed out of the process on purpose.
  • Brian’s role: Help articulate a vision, find the resources to achieve the vision, and hold self and org. accountable for achieving that vision.
  • Mission and Vision statements – from the staff – ‘to connect, to explore, to communicate and to discover.’
  • They are DOING the Plan – ideas for what they are doing came from staff.
  • Goals are “Build partnership with this org.” “Get grant funding for mobile tech lab.”
  • Staff assigned to keep library on track. Fun to say, “But this is what you told me you wanted to do.”

Set Information Technology (Tech) Free

  • Listen to what all staff are saying about tech problems
  • Tech staff have the talent to find or create solutions: Give them TIME and RESOURCES to build solutions and Celebrate their successes
  • Example: Build a digital sign/slide show for the cost of the monitor. Raspberry Pi and dongle, using Google presentation slide shows. More cost effective. Put small screens on back of Circ monitors. (Directions available)
  • Getting the word out to staff about late openings: Text message at the same time the Web site is updated with an alert.
  • Connect Explore share Discover – IT staff created a quick graphic design in a pinch.

Rivkah Sass  Stories About Sacramento Library Think Tank:

  1. Good Intentions to create Engagement, Excitement, and ownership
  2. Idea: Library Think Tank for Library Services Assistants and Library Technology Assistants – front line staff who engage the most with patrons
    1. Asked: If you can improve a current service or invent a new one, what would it be? What motivates you?
    2. Responses from the original 12: Delivery suggestions, try new technology (like ipads in early literacy centers and Google voice). The Workers are thoughtful and Want to do a good job.

Think Tank:

  • Mission of the Think Tank “provides a voice to LSAs/LTAs and promotes SPL improvements.”
  • Forming | Storming | Norming | Performing – She didn’t want the conversation to change with her involvement. Interject regarding resources, politics, etc. Listen, provide guidance, offer tools and provide resources.
  • How to solve problems – what would help you do your job better? Usage growth: program attendance and use of e-resources. Example, set up Share Point to keep track of minutes and ideas and discussions “and now I have 12 front line staff who know sharepoint better than most managers because they use it.”


  • Teen cards – A way to get a card without a parental signature? Pay for lost items with Friends funds. 3 items at a time, without parental signature.
  • Library Newsletter Opt-out – How do you get more to sign up – sign up automatically with a new card and have an opt-out option.
  • Efficiency studies – How long does it take to check in? shelve? how can we be more efficient? Admin is looking at it and how staffing is needed at each location.
  • Best Practices – Group trusts the Director and she has accountability – so when training needs come out, she has to meet it.
  • New Welcome Brochure! Think Tank did a mock-up based on their perspective. “Treat your card like a credit card.” – Good bad and ugly of the library – fines is “uh oh…” section. “No fines for eBooks”
  • Otterby Reading – New mascot.
  • Trust
  • Training

Lessons Learned:

  • Threats to the status quo – Rivkah had to reinforce to the TT that they are contributing and helping the system.
  • Danger of insider/outsider
  • Perception – secret club (fight club) – Not her spies!
  • Debbie Downers – invite these folks to be ‘guest speakers’ – ask questions in a safe environment
  • Think Tank folks have the ear of their colleagues AND the Director – go-to people for ideas and frustrations

Ground Rules:

  • Safe environment
  • Trust
  • Sometimes things need to stay here – group decides what is public
  • Use alter-egos, not names
  • Respect the introvert
  • Assume good intent
  • Bring something to provoke discussion

Q&A –

  • How do you make time for this? Meet Friday mornings when they are closed to the public, paid. Wants to create a 2nd Think Tank that includes more staff, so there isn’t this feeling of being left out by middle. First step to focus on front-line staff.
  • Public Service Improvement Team – rotates, revolves. IDeas: customer apperciation day. How do you make time for new ideas and initiatives? Look at what we DON’T NEED TO DO anymore to make time for new ideas and projects. Volunteer projects, too
  • How do you repair trust between management and front-line staff when there’s been negative perception that staff are pawns? Create opportunities for people to make contact with Director. Idea forms – anonymous or not. Director wants to work together. Come for the job, stay out of love and loyalty. Requires an ongoing conversation, Director opens the door, but staff need to walk through. Brian: Lots of emails fromstaff. Phone call and build the relationship. Colleageus – we work together. Build relationships in both directions b/c we are all on the same team. Term “my staff” makes Rivkah uncomfortable – staff have free will, not chattle.
  • More interest now in the Think Tank? Rolling application process, so 3 new members, and apps on file. Change in perception and staff email TT members issues to bring up. All staff meeting – session on the Think Tank had standing room only.
  • Strategic Plan Question – How do you stay engaged and informed during a long process? Appreciative Inquiry requires involvement by everyone – made time available for all staff to participate. Commissioner on the steering committee helped keep the process going and plowed through the summer, ins pite of summer reading program.
  • Open Door a cliche but true – Brian has open calendar and shares it with everyone so they can make an appointment



Every Library Training to Craska (sp?) – When going out for a vote, librarian is the candidate at the library in the encumbant. Sell excellent customer service to the community.



PLA Musings

The very best part of conference is seeing my colleagues and mentors. We’ve talked about program ideas, the Girl Scouts idea for a 5-senses garden redesign at HVL, staffing and budget challenges, and much more over drinks and meals. I’m very very lucky to call many of these folks my friend and we’ve caught up with pictures and stories and a whole lot of hugs.
I learned yesterday from Simon that part of why I feel so giddy is Seritonin and oxytocin…because I’m back with my tribe. Here’s to more bonding!

Check on the Flickr Photostream for pictures from the conference and exhibit hall.


It’s Sunday and I’m at the family farm near Stilesville, IN compiling notes and relaxing before I fly home tonight.  Here are a few more notes for myself, mainly.  I want to go through the PLA posted programs and see what I missed. I did that after the 2012 PLA in Philly and brought back some very, very useful ideas.

Look up:
Amy Cuddy – and watch the recording about body language – I missed her Saturday morning ‘big idea’ session.
Send staff to the presentations stored on the PLA Web site as C.E. – Facilities 101 – Diana says best one and practical.

We were talking about missions before the closing keynote and Diana said we’re in the “Imagination business” – not just education.  One of the speakers said everything should be wrapped up in terms of education, but she feels that is a slippery slope. Funders might confuse education with what we do, which is unique. As Kim said, “We enhance educaiton, not duplicate it.”

Need to remember to tell the Board that the KLA Ethics training for Trustees is on the Web and open to all.

I also want to think of a good program to present at the 2015 KLA/MLA joint conference in Kansas City.

PLA 2014 Simon Sinek Leaders Eat Last

PLA Day 1

Reconnected with friends and colleagues from Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and met some new folks from Virginia. The opening keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, made us think about social justice in a very human way. Regardless of what wrong we do in life, we have a basic human dignity beneath it that needs to be acknowledged and respected.

I also have pretty pictures of kids furniture from the Exhibit hall.

PLA Day 2 – current plans (subject to change)

BIG IDEAS with Simon Sinek. I LOVE Simon Sinek and refer to his Ted Talk “Start with Why” from time to time.  He turned that into a book, along with his new one “Leaders Eat Last.” He talks about inspiring people to do the things that inspire them and to go home feeling fulfilled by their work. He’s worth getting up and ready by 8:15 am to see.

Thursday Programs:

  • The Most Dangerous Idea of All: Change from the Bottom Up (Leadership) – Sometimes the very people who should be fostering staff engagement are its biggest enemies. What if libraries fostered change by truly encouraging innovation from any position? The is session will share ideas and outcomes from libraries that have removed obstacles and allowed front-line staff to thrive.
  • Working Effectively with Friends Groups (OR) Make it Happen Anyhow: Fundraising and Library-Building in Hard Times
  • Go Local with Geek the Library

Simon Sinek – Complete with White Board 🙂

Where do people like Johnny Bravo come from (fighter pilot story)  Because of something internal? No, it’s Environment – a good environment helps people do remarkable things.

Humans are Social animals – in the ‘olden days’ when we were surrounded by danger, we survived by living in tribes or ‘circles of safety’.  We had to cooperate to face the many dangers.

There is value in working with people we trust – they’ll watch our backs.   What is the culture inside your organization?  If we don’t feel safe, we are paranoid, self-interest, cynicism.

How do you build a circle of safety? 
Incentive systems – gold stars – feelings of happiness, pride, joy are reward feelings from:

Endorphins: The mask physical pain and we are built for endurance and hunting/gathering. Laughing feels good because we are hurting our innards and endorphins are released.

Dopamine: Feelings of accomplishment when ‘crossing off to-do list’- Feeling we get when we find something we are looking for – why we like collecting things – when we reach a goal and win the game, dopamine is released making us feel good.
Developed/based on finding food, not just hunger. We don’t eat because it’s rational, but because it makes us feel good to find food. Dopamine helps us stay focused on the goal and ‘get there’ – why we fixate on goals. Metrics are meant to make us feel like we are working towards the goal. Write down your goals – biology – we need concrete/tangible goals. Count and measure goals. Have a useful Vision statement – have to be able to see it! Abstract vision statements are unnerving. Dopamine can also can be addictive: nicotine, alcohol, gambling, cell phone.  Creates instant gratification.
These two are selfish chemicals with short term hits and can be unhealthy.

These two are Selfless Chemicals and are responsible for building the Circle of Safety:

Serotonin – The “leadership chemical” – generated by status, recognition by our ‘tribe’, public recognition, and encourages more work toward the tribe.  Ceremony and celebrations generate Serotonin, Graduation, for example.  Creates feelings of confidence and pride.  Involves both the person and the relationships (boss-employee / leader-follower / giver and recipient of sacrifice)
Share serotonin and reinforce the relationship.
For the last 40,000 years, we lived in groups of about 150 people as hierarchical animals and it is important for us to know Who is alpha.  We self assess and self organize when in a group, so we take a step back and let alpha go first. We feel proud to serve the alpha – ‘it’s good to be the king’- but…it doesn’t come for free. The group expects that the alphas will confront the danger and protect the group. “The cost of leadership is self-interest” – it’s a choice to look after the people near you.
We are offended by some bank leaders violating the social contract because they should have but did not sacrifice their bonuses. It’s not the numbers or money, but the social responsibility.
Photo on in Kenya – mother lying on top of her child at the sound of a gun. When danger threatens, it’s a mother’s instinct to protect the child. Leadership is just like being a parent. Learn the lessons and gain the confidence. Leaders should make more leaders.

Oxytocin – Feelings of friendship and love – unicorns and rainbows. Why we like being with our friends. Enjoy company. Feel safe. Feeling of trust. It’s natural be uncomfortable around strangers and explains the gap in the movie theater.
Power of Human contact – it reinforces relationships. Human contact also boosts our immune system.  Impacts pre-frontal cortex and makes us better problem solvers. A Handshake is Valuable and reinforces the bond. Touch is a political tool – social communication that says “I trust you.”
Comes from Acts of kindness and generosity – time and energy without expectation of anything in return – gives oxytocin. Value of labor, time and energy worth more than money – we can feel it.  This is why handwritten notes are so important because it took more time. Email is too easy. Call if human emotion is involved – NO email – because it is more efficient, you learn more, they feel you care. We make sacrifices if we lead. Give the time and energy – make person feel that we are there for them. Even witnessing acts of generosity gives us a shot of oxytocin. Just help.

Simon story about a Marine who let his men eat first, and he was left with no food.  In the field, all of his men gave him some of their food out of Love, loyalty, respect – if we look after others, they look after us. Our people keep us fed, too.

Cortisol – Causes feelings of stress and anxiety and is the first stage of fight or flight. Our early warning alarm system.  Makes us paranoid to find the danger and makes us tense and heightens sensitivity.  When we work in an unhealthy environment, we have a low level of cortisol = tension, work stress and imbalance (drip, drip, drip).  Makes us paranoid and we look for and ‘find’ danger, it makes us selfish and turns off oxytocin production. The body turns off growth and immune system when cortisol stays in our system at low levels. Our jobs are killing us slowly.

Think about Parenting and exercise – we can’t see a daily improvement and have to wait years and months to see the impact and improvement and outcome.  Leadership is the same. It takes time. Dopamine can be measured in small amounts (circ numbers), but S and O can be seen over time (relationships). S/O balances E/D

Why? Because they would have done it for me.

[END NOTES] This was So good!!! I love Simon. I bought both books and waited in line to have him sign them for me.

Q and A:

Post script: “Focus on each other and help them grow as human beings.”

Connect with an audience: talk about things you care about and understand (nothing else)

Simon is an introvert – he talks to one person at a time, not the whole group. Individual connections are felt by the group.

Put your phone away when someone asks you a question. Put the phone away – conveys that they are not the most person around. Turn off the monitor when someone comes in to talk to you.

Start with Why – be around people who believe what you believe. Devotion to our cause – with diversity, but have to have similar belief and value set. People inside should be first, then the customers will be treated better. If you don’t fear your leader, you’ll try to include the outsiders and bring them into the tribe.

Example: come to work on time because you care and don’t want to let your workers down v. because it’s the rule

Turn the Ship Around – read this book – Naval sub captain wrote the book – his authority came from how much he knew – his intelligence. Given worst-performing sub and his lessons. Crew trained for compliance.  People at the bottom had all the info and no authority. Banned the words “Permission to” and replaced to “I intend to” – psychological – person who performs the action, owns the action. complete turn around in the crew.

How do you expand leadership – influence above? “You don’t.” Obsess about your crew/team/circle/tribe. That cohesive group gets attention – tail wags the dog. Same with toxic leadership. People should unite – power with the people. United front, emasculates toxic leader.


  • Rearrange my desk to remove the giant screen barrier between me and visitors.
  • Break my cell phone addiction
  • Active listening
  • Read Introvert book – not quiet, the other one Vanessa recommended