2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

In January, after the Mummer’s Parade, I moved into a beautiful old carriage house on 3 acres of basically a suburban botanical garden in Lower Moreland. Being 6 minutes from work has been fantastic. I also started as the President of MCLINC in January and went to Circ, MAC, Network, Board, and Database committee meetings and attended Liz Vibber’s Board Chair Book Camp on Jan. 25. We gave a modified MCLINC dog and pony show at Indian Valley on January 26, but they declined joining at this time. Pam and I tackled revising our Service Policy and Code of conduct. Bruno was hired and Nika gave her notice, as did Glynnis.  It looks like I also started work on “Operation Clean Carpet.”  Off to a busy start.  You’ll notice a MCLINC theme for the year – being President took a lot more time, miles, and energy than I anticipated.

Pam had a great year – starting with the purchase of 3 Dash and Dot robots from the Friends and quickly followed by the Local Business Breakfast on Feb. 10.  We had the first of four Art Nouveau lectures Feb. 19.  Another Plan!  I sent a draft Emergency Preparedness Plan to Rich, our Deputy Emergency Manager,  for review in February (with follow-up Active Shooter training scheduled for 1/4/2018 by staff demand). Mila enjoyed spending winter watching birds and squirrels out the windows of the carriage house.

March – We partnered with Sushiman for a dining event on March 1 and the Matter of Balance classes with the Montgomery County Health Department started March 8 – a lead from the 2016 Senior Expo. Operation Clean Carpet happened March 10 and I hung out back here while they steam cleaned.  We also had a bumpy Polaris Upgrade March 7-9.  Youth Services Librarian interviews, a couple of audits, and the Friends Spring Tea ended the month.  The Township helped us out with building maintenance this year with new elevator locks and back-up battery, plus Meridian Security set up the community room to be alarmed, if needed. I had to put on my President cap during an unhappy phone call about the recent upgrade with Polaris on March 21, so hopefully the next migration/upgrade will go better. Glynnis expanded the Spring Egg Hunt, moving it to the hill next to the High School and utilized our teen volunteers to fill all 8,000 eggs. We hired Linda Jones in March and had to re-post for Glynnis’ position. Vanessa and Glynnis ended the Teen Reading Lounge by hosting Alex London, with a professional photographer from PHC to boot.

April – More Art Nouveau lectures, 300+ Spring Egg Hunt, and Glynnis’ going away party April 29. Parking woes – Police ticketed 10 students and we also had kids trespass through the community room DURING a program to go play basketball, so I called the fuzz and scared some middle-schoolers straight! Also started a discussion of our need for fire lanes. Pam organized another very successful Volunteer Tea – she’s so good with people. I’ll stick to writing policies and hanging out with my cat. Pam and Marilyn put on Family Hour of code April 22, kicking off our new robotics programs.  I took a mental health day and drove up to New Hope to walk among the wildflowers (it was a bit early, but still fun).

May – CAPS students shifted, re-labled, and such. We met another strategic goal by partnering with LMPD and inviting Officer Huttick to speak in June.  With a very active committee and help from professionals, we updated the employee handbook for MCLINC.  Vanessa moved the Teen Advisory Board forward in 2017, another strategic initiative.  As always in May, we prepared for Summer Reading – Build a Better World.  The flowers finally arrived…

June/July – I had an epiphany: we have been under-counting our door count since taking on the Community room as part of the library, so we will add the event attendance for events held upstairs to the door count for the annual report and then move the door counter in January. Terri started July 5, along with Allison and Samuel. I also went to ALA in Chicago to learn stuff and hear interesting people talk about librarianship. We moved Mah Jongg and Canasta from 11:30 to 12:30 and it caused a bit of friction, but enabled us to rent and/or use the Community Room in the morning on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  The Dash and Dot robots debuted at Summer Reading, paid for by the Friends.  Took another mini-break to take my Mom and Aunt Sharon to Longwood Gardens and Cape May.  Also went on some loverly walks along the Wissahickon and in my landlady’s garden:

August – I presented a draft budget to the Board. Linda Yerkees, the HS librarian retired and we learned that the new school liaisons would be all three of the District’s librarians, on rotation. The Board had a good discussion of Library Fundraising at their meeting and of the five ideas presented, the Fun Run happened!  I secured 5 sponsors (that was my big contribution to the cause) so all donations (over $700) were profit.  (No Bull Training and Karl rock – I hope we can do it again next year. )  Speaking of fundraisers, the Aug. 19 Books and Brews fundraiser at Naked Brewing Co. had good Board participation and a fun mix of Friends, patrons, staff, and newcomers. As you can see, I was having fun.

September – Circulation went down, but I think that was due in part to inflated in house uses numbers from 2016. Excluding in house circ showed a .7% increase. We asked the Friends to support a subscription to hoopla streaming service (and signed the contract in December).  Our new District Consultant – Karen – started. I went to Kansas to meet my new Great Nephew. The Board worked to schedule Victor Brooks, but we had to postpone to 2018. With donations down from last year, cash flow was a real struggle in 2017, so we had to ask the township for tax fund distributions more often. I have to get creative with fundraising and grant writing…or cut costs. The Board and I worked on a Board member job description and reviewed and revised the Bylaws in November. We started a new chair yoga class with Pura Vida, a local health store and another positive partnership with local businesses, like No Bull Training for the Fun Run. Vanessa starred in a Summer Reading TV ad created and edited by Ellen Z, the Pine Road librarian.

October – I presented our Budget – no major changes – and the Annual Appeal went out Oct. 16 to support general expenses.  We talked about ethics and the Library Bill of rights at the to Board meeting. Finally went to the Foundation Center on Oct. 24 to find family foundations we can apply to…if I get around to filling out the applications. Might recruit some of these writers I have on staff to help with this long-overdue project. We started discussing the Classroom Card idea floated by Ms. Curzi, HS librarian. We had no heat in the Community Room on a Monday and it lead to a mini-mutiny on Halloween. Not fun. The Township kindly replaced a ballast in the stairwell after it started burning and we evacuated the building. MCLINC and the County decided to add Ebsco Discovery Service, so that had to be configured and added to our Web site for testing in December. Pam secured Be Well Cafe to the list of Fun Run sponsors ($100). Movie Night Under the Stars went well and Terri has done a great job tackling the “must have” programs: Write and Illustrate Your Own Book in November, Movie Night in October, and she’ll plan the Spring Egg Hunt in 2018. J and I took a second trip to NYC (we went in April) and saw this “Reading Room” in Bryant Park behind the NYPL.

November – I Continued My Education! I went to the Directors’ Summit in Philly with several Montgomery County librarians.  It was inspiring and great to talk candidly with other Directors and Karen, from the District. I followed up with a webinar about Transforming Libraries and turning outward.  A bit of synchronicity – I think we can use the Transforming Libraries process with our next strategic plan, to help restart the LM Business Association, and to see how the library could/should/would work as an economic development and community building engine. Feeling a bit excited about things just in time for 2018. The Nov. 11 Fun Run on the Pennypack Trail was a hit – well attended, very cold, but with a good atmosphere. I also met with our Superintendent, Dr. Feeley, and it initiated an autism awareness talk at January staff in service and our inclusion (hopefully) in Pine Road Elementary’s diversity event in March. Continued work on the Bylaws classroom card idea. Pam joined me at the District meeting to talk mental health and waxed dreamily (via email) about focusing 2018 programs on music and science and strengthen partnerships with the school district. (But have I actually planned any programs yet? Um, no.) However, I did schedule a special Jan. 25 Board meeting with a “What to expect when you’re renovating” presentation with David Belanger.

December – Finalized the hoopla deal, added Ebsco to the Online Resources page for testing, and attended a great workshop on collection challenges sponsored by SEPLA on Dec. 1 with Linda. At the December staff meeting, we reviewed the Request for Reconsideration policy and practices. The Friends decided to buy us 4 more Dot robots after two of the Execs volunteered for new Learn to Code club and saw the robots in action with the kids. I also freaked out about money, I mean, updated the budget for Board and discussed cash flow contingency plans with my wonderful Treasurer, Judy.  Also organized the Jan. 4 staff in-service with our guest speakers from the School District and Township.  We’ll also have some tech training and a little design charrette the day after I get back from my year-end vacation to Seattle.

Highlight of the Year: Spending time with these folks in Chicago…

Plus +

  • Collaborations with businesses and school librarians and being approached as a partner to help reboot the LM Business Association.
    • Pam led the way with the Business Breakfast, then Summer Reading raffle tickets at participating businesses, and finally with the Fun Run and partnerships with Pura Vida for Chair Yoga and Tea Talk in Dec.
    • I worked with the school librarians to organize the classroom card and pitched the idea to Dr. Feeley who agreed to add the library as a stop for their inter-building mail courier.
    • Shared the Turning Outward concept with anyone who would listen, including the Township manager
    • Other examples: Officer Huttick’s talk during Summer reading, Rich’s help with Emergency plan, and Township’s help with the building and grounds.
  • Delegating:
    • Marilyn and Pam to explore coding and start Learn to Code club with adult volunteers
    • Meg to organize Adult book clubs, Saturday storytimes, and LEGO club
    • Vanessa to run with her TAB group and assisting with Terri’s training and orientation
    • Meg and Blessy to represent the library at a Back to School night
  • Moved forward with Policies: Code of conduct (late 2016), Service policy, Emergency preparedness policy, and revised Bylaws.
  • MCLINC President – Active with calls, meetings, fretting, and the MAIUG in NJ, but moved forward with:
    • Hiring a great new Network Manager
    • Upgrading to Polaris 5.2 while simultaneously migrating to the Cloud
    • Managing an unexpected personnel issue and vacancy
    • Presenting to Indian Valley
    • Updating the Employee handbook and implementing the new Fiscal policy
    • Contracting with Liz Vibber to restart strategic planning process with Sukrit as Chair
    • We set several Goals at the start of the year and worked towards reaching them
  • Adult programming overview: Four Aspects of Art Nouveau, Matter of Balance Class, Socrates Cafe, Movies, and Yoga. Civil War talk with Union League (follow up tour for Friends Dec. 11). The Friends After Meeting programs did well – Pennypack talk, Art House Confidential (Renew Theaters), Pearl S. Buck in 2018. Computer classes with Jonathan were well received, but he would like better attendance in 2018. We might consider having Zumba class again in 2018 – it was a real hit that we missed this year. Added Monday Night Yoga and chair yoga in Fall, but Chair yoga attendance fell and was canceled. Pam’s art class and essential oils classes do consistently well. I did NOT focus greatly on programming in 2017 and the decrease in attendance shows it, I’m afraid.
  • Fundraising Overview: 2016 Appeal and summer appeal went to architect and we made over $15,000 towards the $30,000 goal by October, when we started the 2017 Appeal. Small fundraisers included: Sushiman, LulaRoe, Naked Brewing, Summer Appeal, and the Fun Run. Postponed Victor Brooks, but Pam and her committee are planning a BINGO event for April 14. The Fun Run was great and worth repeating.
  • Staff – we had 5 new staff members join us (Bruno, Linda, Terri, Allison, and Sam) and three who left (Bruno, Glynnis, and Nika). The transition from Glynnis to Terri is progressing. I look forward to working with Terri to flesh out her vision for Youth Services. We continue to have several librarians and/or librarians-in-training at the desk.  Linda is going to Library school, Allison is a recent MLS graduate, and Kathleen is working PT at an academic library. Kathy and Monica, as mini-MAC, have Sundays well in hand and Sunil, Karen, Meg, Jonathan, and Marilyn keep us running smoothly.

Delta:

  • Adult programming – I think 2017 would have benefited from more of a vision, so am trying to focus on quality over quantity in 2018 and be thoughtful and plan with intention. 2018 Events Master List DRAFT.  Ideas: Ben Franklin, Hillbillies concert, School musicians, School art show, Learn To Code club expansion, family speakers on coding, etc.
  • Staff development – I think I’m not alone with this.  How can I make sure staff know what I need them to know?  What the new polices are and where to find them, extreme customer service, readers advisory, and working sensitively with patrons. We did have staff meetings consistently and I think that helped, but it’s hard to get everyone here at the same time. The  Jan. 4 Staff Day should help.
  • MCLINC – I feel I could have been a better coach as President, but I think we still accomplished a lot as an organization. There’s room for improvement and I think the Strategic planning process will bring to light (bright, glaring light) what we want and need in the future.
  • Focus – wait, what was I just doing?
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Five Ways to Transform How Your Library Works with Your Community

Webinar – Five Ways to Transform How Your Library Works with Your Community with Erica Freudenberger, formerly of Red Hook Library.
http://ideas.demco.com/webinar/5-ways-transform-library-works-community/

Erica makes a strong case that the future is relational, not transactional and that libraries can strengthen the social fabric of their communities. It’s about connections, not collections. We need to undergo a Deep Transformation Through Community Engagement – Develop a collective vision that benefits the community. Libraries can/should/need to demonstrate value by being part of something larger than ourselves. Stop communicating value and just be valuable – or “Just Show Up!” Strategic partnerships are NOT community engagement. We must have conversations about community aspirations. “Don’t be arrogant and assume we know what the community wants or needs.” What vision does the Community have for itself?

How they went about answering the question: Spent 8 months collecting public knowledge by going door-to-door, going to festivals, and having 10 minute conversations with people. Using the Harwood Institute’s tools for “Turning Outward” and starting with the school Superintendent, they asked these 4 questions:

  1. What kind of community do you want to live in?
  2. Why is that important to you?
  3. How is that different from how you see things now?
  4. What are some of the things that need to happen to create that kind of change?

3-Part Approach:

  • Ask – one-on-one (with a 2nd person to take notes), 10 minutes
  • Aspirations – questions for groups, like Boards
  • Community Conversation – discussions outside the library with groups of 15 people

Volunteers helped and they built capacity – it was ‘high touch and personal’

Erica asserts it is not the library’s job to fix things but to alert people to the issues and to bring people together to find solutions. They helped identify the issues.  Examples from Red Hook: Went to the high school to do programming (space constraints and no budget), created a pop-up library with school to provide equitable library services (went to the local trailer park), creative place making – took a Hispanic Heritage program to the Farmer’s Market and used a public space for a cultural/arts event that also benefited the farmers, Diversity – created a strong Diwali celebration with international students to help strengthen social fabric.

Libraries can be economic engines. The “Read Local Red Hook Literary Festival” drew hundreds and the businesses had a great day. They’ve done storytime at the candy shop and movie night at the local cafe.

Erica says, libraries “empower citizens to be actively involved in a democratic society.” While it’s hard to let go of the idea that the library is the center of the universe, by encouraging community decision making there was joint empowerment. They rethought adult programs ($9.59 budget) and recruited community members and had programs by the people for the people: beekeeping, wine/cheese making, bird watching, etc. She told us to stop guessing and stop asking people what they want from the library because THEY DON’T KNOW. She reiterated that this is the high touch and time intensive work of relationship building. They found out what really mattered to people and made it happen – she wants libraries to go viral.

Q&A – Budget doubled in 6 years. People were willing to share their talents and staff helped identify and approach potential program volunteers. She inspired staff and the Board with an Aspirations exercise. She shared that traveling and spending time together with the Deputy Mayor and school libraries planning a mobile maker space helped build those relationships because they got to know each other. When she left, they had a full time program coordinator and had 600 programs a year with 10,000 attendees.

For such a short webinar, it was packed with great information and I realize I’m late to the game, but I have now been exposed to Libraries Transforming Communities and  “A Step-By-Step Guide to ‘Turning Outward’ to Your Community.”

I’m all inspired now to:

  • Increase attendance at programs – quality over quantity.
  • Increase circulation statistics
  • “Empower citizens to be actively involved in a democratic society” or help bolster community spirit
  • Use these Turning Outward tools for strategic planning – oh look, they have information just for that!

Communication and Relationship Building for Leaders

Bucks-Mont Collaborative Leadership Training Series: Communication and Relationship Building for Leaders | October 20, 2015

Course Description:

You’ll learn Empathic Listening – If like most, your training has primarily been in writing and speaking; however, most of our days are spent listening.

-Whole Message Model – This is a template leaders can use to ensure the entirety of your message is being communicated effectively – especially those difficult messages.

Presenter William Reiner is part of the Adjunct Faculty at Holy Family University where he teaches in the Graduate School’s MBA program. His courses include leadership development, finance, and economics.

Notes:

Respect rubricWe started with a Grad-school type rubric with skills/knowledge on one axis and relationships or ‘ability to connect and perceived care about me’ on the other.  Basically, people who are low in skill and poor at relationships are despised, while people who are high in skill and good at relationships are revered and respected.  Those who are good at what they do but are not trusted because they have shallow relationships are feared while those who don’t really know what they’re doing but are nice people are tolerated.

Characteristics of a Good listener:

present, not multi-tasking, not on the phone, focused on the speaker, provides ques and acknowledgements, gives TIME, sincere/genuine, restates the conversation, hears more than what is being said (empathy), is NOT formulating a response while you’re talking, patient, shows respect, not judgmental, interested, challenging when appropriate, holistic and ask probing questions

Characteristics of a Bad listener (you know, like me):

distracted, reactionary, doesn’t let you finish, impatient, no TIME, dismissive, one-up-manship, make the conversation about them, devalue what’s said, don’t seek to understand, “Efficient over effective – you may be heard but are not listened to”, not remembering the conversation (maybe we just have a bad memory, yo), jumping to conclusions, intimidating

A Bit About the Importance of Body Language:

  • 50% of the message is non-verbal
  • 10% of the message is through the words used
  • 40% is tone of voice

Listening – on a scale

-1Discounting is NEGATIVE listening

  • Providing Unsolicited Advice or trying to Solve the Problem is Discounting
  • Providing False Reassurance is Discounting – “It’ll be all right”
  • Denial of the person’s feelings is dangerous Discounting – you really can’t tell a person how they should feel. They can think differently but you feel what you feel!

0 – Silence can be positive or negative, depending on circumstance. Are you distracted or showing open body language and giving your attention?

1 – Fact Finding – get to the root of the issue with questions. Seek to clarify, look to understand so you can then be understood.

2 – Content Reflection – “It sounds like you’re saying” – provide a restatement. Restate a word or key words used by the speaker to show you’re listening.

3 – Feeling Reflection – “Sounds like you’re ___” Name or identify the EMOTION for the speaker to feel heard or validated.  Enhance with positive body language.

Empathic Listening

  • Feeling of the speaker is reflected
  • You’ve gotten to the heart of the issue.
  • The words are the tip of the iceberg, while the meaning is hidden beneath.
  • What if you identify the wrong emotion?  No worries – the speaker will CORRECT you!  Yes it’s risky and may cause anxiety, but it will get to the real issue: Emotion.
  • Emotions: disappointed, frustrated, angry, concerned, exhausted, shocked, afraid, sad, hurt, impatient, drained, deceived, worried, vulnerable, etc.
  • Ask permission before offering ideas, feedback or solutions.  “Would you like to talk through ideas?” “Sounds like you’re really frustrated, How can I help?  What do you need from me?”

Resources:

  1. Listening with Empathy by John Selby
  2. Habit 5: Empathic Listening by Stephen Covey
  3. Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols

Whole Message Model

  • Delivering the hard messages and handling the difficult discussions.
  • There is often a disconnect between what’s being said and what is heard.
  • This is a Template – all of the elements of a message can be mapped out in advance.
  • Web resources I found: Performance Feedback | Whole Messages by TalentFutures | hal.ph Whole Messages Communication

Observations – “I see…”  performance, behavior DIRECTLY observed

Thoughts – “I think…” we need, as a team, to follow the policy

Feelings/Emotions – “I feel…” really frustrated that, concerned, uncomfortable, anxious, etc.

Seek to Understand – ask for information – pause if needed.  What if there’s a really good reason for the behavior you observed?  This is the time to hear about it.

Wants/Needs – “I want or need…” you to come to work dressed professionally, for example.

It’s Simple, but not Easy!  Teach it to others to fully understand it.

Genuine listening is hard work; there is little about it that is mechanical… We hear with our ears, but we listen with our eyes and mind and heart and skin and guts as well – Alfred Benjamin