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.


2018 Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness

Multi-district workshop on Friday, May 18, 2018, King of Prussia, PA
Speaker: Ryan Dowd, runs the 2nd largest homeless shelter in Illinois, is Founder of the Homeless Training Institute and author of ALA’s book “The Library Guide to Homelessness.”

Web site: http://www.homelesslibrary.com/

You can subscribe to his weekly newsletter from the home page.


Four Goals of Training: Recognize the power we have to resolve problems | Have great confidence doing so | Our library will have fewer problems | Our library will be more compassionate and inclusive

Keys: Empathy-Driven Enforcement and the Psychology of Voluntary Compliance
Notes in bold are taken directly from the note guide.
PART 1 – Deeper Understanding of Homelessness
The cycle of inter-generational poverty leads to a culture of poverty and economic apartheid.  There several types of homelessness, but chronic homelessness involves people with multiple problems, including mental illness.  Homeless individuals grew up poor and due the cycles of inter-generational poverty, they are part of a culture of poverty.  For example, compared to middle class culture, they understand how to travel 20 miles using multiple types of public transportation, know when sales happen at different thrift stores, and how to move their family with less than 24 hours notice.
Homeless individuals have a different communication style.  They have a smaller vocabulary, missing things like adverbs and other descriptors, making it harder to communicate. A middle class 3 year old has a much larger vocabulary than an adult who grew up in poverty.
Homeless individuals speak differently, have a smaller vocabulary, and pay more attention to nonverbal cues than you. Middle class children learn to differentiate between Casual Register appropriate for friends and family (includes slang and cussing) and Formal Register appropriate for job interviews, professionals, and people in positions of authority (police) (does NOT include cussing).  Children raised in poverty do NOT learn Formal register and us casual register with everyone.  This can lead to misunderstandings and ‘rudeness.’ They use body cues to determine meaning – How you say something matters more than what you say.  Use simple words, but use non-verbal cues like volume, inflection, and body language to give meaning.
Homeless individuals argue differently than you. The middle class are quieter, keeping their voice at a “level 2” and only resort to “level 10” volume when on the verge of violence (screaming at a kidnapper, for example). Poverty is LOUD – shelters are loud, a large family living in a small space is loud, so any feelings beyond calm, from annoyed to angry to furious, goes from a “level 2” to a “level 9”.  It is hard for the middle class to differentiate between “level 9” of “annoyed” and a “level 10” of “violence.”
Homeless individuals have experienced more trauma than you. Children raised in poverty and homeless individuals have experienced more sexual and physical violence, including traumatic brain injuries that kills off parts of the brain.  The brain trauma leads to mis-perceived threat stimuli (so everything seems threatening and causes an overreaction) and to difficulty self-regulating anxiety and anger – it’s hard to regulate emotions.  Homeless individuals get anxious and angry faster, they stay agitated longer, and it takes longer to calm down. They also suffer from PTSD.
Homeless individuals have experienced more punishment than you.  They have experienced so much they are habituated to it and give up being good.  Punishment beyond 24 hours is not effective because Homeless individuals have a different worldview than you and only focus on their needs for the next 24 hours.  A middle class person has a “time horizon” of 70+ years, roughly a lifetime, while a homeless person only looks forward 24 hours.  They are in survival mode and focused on immediate needs – food, sleep, and safety trump retirement planning and mortgages.  If a problem can’t be resolved in 24 hours, it derails the homeless person.  The average lifespan of a homeless person is 30 years less than a middle class person.
Homeless individuals view respect differently than you.  In the middle class, respect is granted or given automatically and (we) expect to get respect in return.  Respect is the other person’s to lose.  In the culture of poverty, this is flipped.  You must EARN respect first, or you’re a chump.
Homeless individuals view protection, retaliation, and insults differently than you. There are three dominant cultures in the world: Face culture (Asian), Dignity Culture (USA, Australia and Western Europe) and Honor Culture (Latin America, Africa, Urban poverty, and Middle East).
Dignity Culture: trusts the rule of law, strong authority figures, relative affluence, protection is through the police or government and courts, retaliation is viewed as tacky, and insults are viewed with amusement or ignored.
Honor Culture: distrusts the government, weak authority, high corruption, high competition for resources, protection is through self-defense, retaliation is essential – to prove your reputation for self-defense is to ensure safety and is a shield against violence and secures future safety.  Insults are seen as a probe for weakness and they MUST retaliate against insults for self-preservation.
Do NOT Insult homeless individuals, as they live in an Honor Culture.
Homeless individuals have different triggers than you: Uninvited touch and unfairness.  Uninvited touch triggers past traumas (muggings, sexual assault).  Unfairness and discrimination and being treated as undesirable or being treated as ‘lesser’, being dismissed, ignored or talked down to are also triggers.  People enjoying their misfortune are triggers – 10% of the population are “everyday sadists” who enjoy giving people a hard time, enforcing the rules, singling out the homeless for poor treatment, bullying the powerless.  Homeless individuals are OK if everyone is treated poorly (like at the DMV), because at least it’s fair treatment.
Part II – Punishment
What is punishment?  Threat to enforce compliance and just making people feel bad.  “I’m so disappointed in you, child.” < That is a form of punishment.
The Problem with Punishment: mental illness makes punishment less effective, as does substance abuse, being habituated to punishment, past trauma, having a short time horizon, and growing up in the honor culture where insults are taken with great seriousness.  In fact, punishment oftentimes has the OPPOSITE effect of what you intended. 
You can keep punishing until everyone is banned and you hate your job, you can allow anarchy and not enforce any rules, or you can find a way to get people to follow the rules voluntarily!
A new paradigm: Empathy-Driven Enforcement
It’s compassionate and more effective – it’s all about HOW you enforce the rules.
Part III – Empathy-Drive Enforcement (TM)
Psychology of voluntary Compliance
Emotional Contagion  – Mirror neurons fire in response to positive or negative emotion.  Mirror neurons are stronger in women, who tend to have greater empathy as a result.  You can catch negative emotions and give away your own emotions.  Be Aware.  People are more likely to voluntarily comply if you share positive emotions. 
The Psychology Conflict teaches that you can’t think abstractly when you are angry, but that is when you most need abstract thought to have empathy and problem-solving skills. [INSERT GRAPH].  Binary thinking – when a person only considers two options – is most prevalent in a high-conflict situation.  People are more likely to voluntarily comply if you lower the level of conflict. Use reciprocity (I’ll scratch your back scenarios) to lower conflict.  What matters is perceived, not actual, treatment. Their perception is your reality – their perceived version is stronger than the actual version. People are more likely to voluntarily comply if they owe you a favor instead of 5 times the revenge. Eye for an Eye was actually a commandment to stay with a 1 to 1 retaliation, when normally humans retaliate in a disproportionate amount than they were harmed – a 1 to 5 ratio!
In relationships, there is a 5 to 1 ration – you must provide 5 positives for every 1 negative.  For example, if you miss a special dinner with your spouse, just bringing flowers isn’t enough…but if you bring flowers, a gift certificate, a favorite food, complements, and a gift…then maybe you’ll be forgiven.
Relationship Builders: compliments, questions (conversations that show you care), deeds, and touch
Relationship Destroyers: criticism, defensiveness (expect problems/combativeness), stonewalling (silent treatment and repeating the same answer), and contempt (the worse, shows the other person is worth less than you and is often shown through body language).
People are more likely to voluntarily comply if you do five positive things before you ask. 
Psychological Inertia – Positive relationships will continue moving in that direction – an option in motion will tend to stay in motion.  It matters how an interaction starts – the First Five Seconds.  He showed a great video demonstrating the importance of eye contact, introducing yourself, asking for their name, and asking how you can help.  People are more likely to voluntarily comply if you get their emotions moving in a positive direction instead of a negative direction.  It takes FIVE times the effort to reverse a negative interaction.
Neurochemical chemistry of aggression and empathy
Serotonin, Dopamine, and Oxytocin decrease aggression and increase empathy. A handshake raises oxytocin, as does eye contact, social standing (being treated like an equal), and predictable ritual (especially for people with autism).
Cortisol increases aggression, causes the fight/flight reflex, created when feeling threatened by a saber tooth tiger – life or death. Homeless individuals are AWLAYS in this state, their brain is “swimming in a pool of cortisol.” People are more likely to voluntarily comply if you help them have the proper brain chemistry. 
Likeability – When people like you, they comply and help. Favors – get potential funders to do favors for the library – makes us more likeable!  We like people who like us.   People are more likely to voluntarily comply if they like you, which you can accomplish by showing that you like them and let them do favors for you. 
Legitamcy – Three requirements for authority figure to be viewed as legitimate:
1) Be listened to (have an audience)
2) Rules are predicable and
3) Rule enforcement is fair (for example, does a library tell the bank president who comes in stinking after a workout that he smells or just the homeless individual?)
What is not required? toughness, seriousness (jokers can be legit), or distance/aloofness
Rigid consistency can be a problem because sometimes you cannot be consistent and fair – autism rude v. jerk rude.  People are more likely to voluntarily comply if they view you as legitimate. 
Additional Concepts:
Prepare for Problems: Form habits or muscle memories – know how to use your tools. Practice doing it right everytime – develop a routine, use scripts/set statements (Appendix of the guide). Just Do It – practice working with problem patrons – see them as a learning opportunity, rather than a threat.
Solve problems as early as possible – before any conflict erupts. Non-verbal cues start fights, then “mouth follows body into stupidity.”  Gather more tools – Empathy “blue” tools and a few Fire/Punishment “red” tools (he had a toolbelt with actual red and blue tools…
Mindset Tools
We have enormous influence over patron behavior – 80% is prevention and staff training
Start with your Empathy Tools and leave punishment as a last resort.
Lead, Don’t Follow Pull not push – can you push a string? No, you have to pull it.  Lead them where you want them to go, don’t follow them into stupid stuff.  Model appropriate behavior. Whoever controls the TONE of the conversation, controls the situation.
Know Your Goal – It’s simple – “Compliance with the Rules” – don’t care what they think of you, think in general – just comply with the rule.  Don’t make it about you – keep ego out of it.  Don’t care what they thinki, as long as they do what we want them to do – It’s Not About You!
Focus on what your patrons action not what they think.
Don’t Judge – Imagine they are a relative and treat them as such, with dignity.  Treat them the way you would want your family treated.  Help stop judgment by remember the kid you felt most sorry for. Helps explain their behavior.  Hurt people hurt people.
Be Calm – Mirror neurons – your calm is contagious. Calm leads to calm because of psychological inertia, and BREATHING is the key to calmness.
When stressed out, don’t suffocate yourself.  You can generate anxiety from oxygen deprivation > an emotional response to the physical deprivation leads to illogical actions…so BREATHE.  Pause and ask, “Am I breathing?”
Be Respectful – Honor culture demands it – you earn respect by being respectful.  Use honorifics or Sir/Mam, use your formal register, especially when you first meet someone and during conflict.  It is in our best interest for the homeless individual to behave and comply.  Learn from Big Bird and Barney!  Manners and common courtesy. Turn up the respect in the first five seconds. The three times is it helpful to be disrespectful: never, Never, NEVER – It just makes matters worse, like Russian roulette.
Slowdown – “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Take time to resolve small problems to prevent worse problems.  A two minute intervention v. a 2 hour issue.
Pre-Conflict Tools – 1st stage of conflict
Stages of conflict go from Pre-conflict to Non-verbal Escalation to Verbal Escalation to Crisis
Cups of Pennies – Consider it a respect-o-meter.  Fill your cup with pennies (courtesies, positive interactions, legitimacy, respect, Oxytocin from a handshake, etc.) in advance, before problems erupt.  Target certain patrons to focus your pennies on – for example, Ryan scans the shelter each night and sees who he needs to interact with to help head off any potential problems.
Use Names – Give your name, then ask for a name.  Offer First. If they don’t reciprocate, use Sir or Mam, not “Hey You.” Ask patrons to call you by your first name. 
Small Talk – Compliments and questions – ways to build relationships. What trade were they in? Likes? Dislikes? – He had examples of some crazy and some very true past experiences, like one guy who was secret service for Bill Clinton. Do what society is not willing to do.  Add pennies to the cup.
Be Walmart – Greet everyone.  Walmart greeters were brought in to stop shoplifting, but their customer satisfaction rating soared after introducing them…because while they let the potential shoplifters know they were paying attention, they made the non-shoplifters feel welcome.  Say Hello, let everyone know they have been seen and acknowledged.
Shaking Hands – Profoundly effective. Same amount of Oxytocin as a 3 hour conversation.   Hands should be shaken parallel (not in a way that shows dominance or submission), handshake should be equal distance between both people, your left hand should be kept out of your pocket, you should shake 3 times, and you should squeeze the same pounds per square inch as checking a peach for ripeness (then buy the peach).  Leave the desk, come around to shake hands.
NON-VERBAL TOOLS – 2nd stage of conflict
Where to Stand – When talking with someone about compliance, remember Honor culture and let them save face by taking the conversation to a less public place.  Legitimacy issues if inconsistent.  More wiggle room if you keep the conversation private.
Body ‘language’ – Perception – Smile. We remember our words, but not our body. He showed a video without the sound of a staff member with a scowl and arms folding, who was saying “Hello, welcome to the library.” Side discussion about Resting Jerk Face – for homeless individuals, if resting jerk face projects contempt, this can lead to misunderstandings because of the non-verbal message it communicates. Change it if possible.
How to Stand – Stand with a 15% turn of the body – all conversation, not confrontation. Allows for tension to escape. / \ not | |. Make this a habit – do it with every conversation, so it becomes second nature.
Your Hands – Calm messaging with the hands – put them in pocket or behind back – in a neutral position.  If speaking with a paranoid person, make sure your hands can be seen or if you fear violence.  Don’t: Point, cross arms, make a fist, or put your hands on your hips.  These can be seen as aggressive.
When in Danger: Praying Ninja _/\_ – increases confidence or the Thinker or cross your heart X – pick one and make it habit.
Don’t Touch – Uninvited touch is a trigger and don’t touch stuff – use words. Wake up a sleeping patron with words.  PTSD – they may come awake swinging.  Knocking on the table could be seen as rude.  If you have to touch, keep furniture between you or touch the middle of the back, where they can’t swing at you.   Don’t crouch – you are putting your nose by their elbow.  If they are wearing earbuds, you may tap their knee to get their attention, but immediately apologize.  (Article on people sleeping/snoring) First instinct is to hit/punch. Ryan told about a time he forgot this and came up behind a homeless man at the shelter and touched him on the shoulder – the man came swinging around with his fist raised, but saw and recognized Ryan and just say, “Oh, Hi Ryan, how are you?”  Side discussion about sexual harassment and aggression – only give ONE warning and then hand the person off to a supervisor.  Convey calmly that there is a rule about not touching staff and move to the side away from the touch, so non-verbal cues reinforce the verbal.
Smile 🙂 Blood tests revealed that looking at a smiling baby shoots up the positive brain chemicals giving you the same buzz and copious amounts of chocolate. A smiling adult only gives you 10% of the baby buzz, but still the equivalent to 22 lbs of chocolate.  Smiling is ONLY a pre-conflict tool, if you smile during a conflict it looks like you are an everyday sadist.
Eye Contact – Avoid glaring or not looking a person in the eye at all. Ideally you should maintain 60-70% eye contact with 30-40% without contact to show respect.  When not maintaining eye contact, look at the floor.  6-7 seconds looking at the individual, then 3-4 seconds looking at the floor.
VERBAL TOOLS – 3rd stage of conflict
Talk Quieter – They will be louder, so you be quieter. 1 decibel lower is idea – Lead into quiet
Talk Calmer – Avoid sounding frantic and speak like a meditation video with pregnant pauses.
Listen – You earn pennies in your cup for just listening.  Active Listening – Repeat what you THINK you heard them say to help avoid miscommunication.  His example was with a patron who was banned and complained to him about it, he reiterated, “So, if I am hearing you right, you are upset that you were banned for 2 weeks?”  “No man, I was a jerk, I deserved that…but she was disrespectful to me!”  The issue was not technical (how long) but emotional (respect).  The complaint was about how they were made to feel and this was clarified by repeating back their statement.  Scripts: “Correct me if I’m wrong…”  “I think what I hear you saying is…” or “If I understand you…”
Be Sad – Show empathy and avoid being an everyday sadist – if you have to reprimand someone, don’t take pleasure in it. Be sad about it.  “It upsets me to enforce these rules, but…” “I’m really sorry I have to do this, but…” NO JOKES – it can be perceived as “they’re laughing at me.”  It is OK to apologize while enforcing the rules.  ODOR Example – common questions on the Web site (whole article on this topic).
Explain – don’t debate. Don’t dictate.  Good rules are not up for debate.  Saying “Because those are the rules!” is disrespectful, but give an explanation for the rule – “Because people are studying.” “Because we have ants.” “Because it disturbs other people using the library.” “Because it could trip up someone and hurt them.” (Article on Too Many Bags in the Library)
Explain. Blame the Rules. Just blame the organization, the boss, or the Board.  “It’s not me and you, it’s THEM” – that nebulous body of people up there who make all the rules.  Ryan routinely blames his Board.  Shift the blame to someone out of the room – even blame the boss if you are the boss.  One time, he blamed the State of Illinois.  “I don’t want to lose my job.”  Example from the Delusion’s Article:  “I’m not sure about that [delusion you think is real], but either way our Board of Directors insists that ALL books be put in the right section.  If books are in the wrong place, I get in trouble.”

CRISIS TOOLS – 4th stage of conflict
When to Call the Police – Ryan feels we should hold this “Nuclear” option for Dangerous situations and when a person has been asked to leave and they refuse. Don’t cry wolf – if you threaten to call the police, you must call the police. This is the “ultimate Fire tool” for punishment. Calling the police takes longer to resolve the problem than pleading for the person to just leave. It is disruptive when the Police arrive and can cause trauma and anxiety for other people in the library (undocumented, parolees, etc.). You garner more Respect if you are able to handle the crisis yourself (Honor culture folks are watching what you do).  If you have pleaded and they refuse, “Fine, call them if you want” – then they have given you NO choice.
Have a code name for the Police
How to do Backup – Get a colleague to call – don’t do it while standing next to the person near their peers – that’s everyday sadistic.  Have a strategy.  When you speak to the person (away from others standing at a 15 degree angle /\, have your backup standing 5-10 feet away to monitor and call 911 if asked.  The primary person should do the talking, the backup is moral support and crowd control.  In high-stakes conflict, the primary person should be the senior member of staff, while in low-stakes conflict the person who needs training and practice should be the primary.  The senior person can then coach.
How to break up a fight – Peacocking fight v. a real fight.  Peacocking fights are loud and slow – they need a reputation for violence to keep them safe, so in this type of fight they want you to break it up so they can save face.  a REAL fight is fash and quiet – you hear the crowd or breaking furniture, not the fighters.  Procedure: Clear the room, Call 911, Let them fight it out until the trained police arrive.
How to ask someone to leave:
1. Make sure you have pennies in your cut – it’s not personal, just the job.
2. Take a minute to listen – let them plead their case
3. Use baby steps – have them gather up their stuff for a quiet discussion near the door, then tell them they’ll have to leave, and finally tell them it’s for 2 weeks.
4. Make sure they know it’s not personal – “we are still cool”
5. Give them the hope for a Fresh Start – share information about appeal process (even if the appeal will be denied) and/or let them know that when they come back, all is forgiven and they start with a clean slate.

Appendix: Your Personal Phrases

PLA 2018: Ditching Dewey

Ditching Dewey: How to Make Searching Your Collecting Engaging, Not Enraging. | Saturday, March 24, 2018, 10:45 AM with Cumberland (RI) Public Library
Handouts: Download 1   Download 2   Download 3   Download 4   Download 5   Download 6   #takebackthestacks

(Something that’s been on my To Do list, in our Strategic Plan, and in the budget since 2017…so here’s hoping this will be sufficiently motivating.  Related reading: The Dewey Dilemma from LJ, Five Steps to Ditching Dewey, Ditching Dewey: Choosing Genre Categories)

Melissa – worked at B&N before becoming a reference librarian. Danielle a research assistant with bookstore/media/movie/blockbuster store experience and inventory control and logistics background.

The Browse Method – can be used on any ILS in any consortium.  Color coding and plain English.

Benefits: Markham Public Library did a C3 classification system and did before/after research: Shelving productivity up 475% and Item retrieval time reduced 346%. Circulation rose exponentially.   Collection Maintenance benefits – Like with like, horrifying to see gaps and obvious weeds.  Customizable to each environment.  Pull out those items your community uses more often – cookbooks, travel books, etc.  Get more non-users back in the door. Happy Patrons and low cost. Spine labels, overlays, and staff time.  $2,800 for 21,000 titles – not free, but affordable.


Lack of comfort with Dewey – what does this mean? Why are they in so many different places? I don’t get how this works, I’m just going to go buy it on Amazon! Antiquated system (1876 for closed stacks) = LJ survey from 2009 – patrons have a trouble understanding the online catalog because call numbers don’t make any sense to them.  Dewey wasn’t meant for patron use! How can we be 21st century libraries with an out-of-date foundation that was never meant for patron use?

Kudos to these innovators: Maricopa Library – BISAC at all 19 | Rangeview Library District | Darien | Nyack | Groveland | Markham

Created a worst case scenario, based on research.  For example, kept the Dewey number in the record but hidden (in case it needed to come back).

Keep call numbers – Finder numbers – same place on the shelf, every time. Took 52 subjects divided into 9 main categories and are color coded by spine overlay.

IMG_3006The major categories – 0000 to 9999. Numbers do not repeat. Room for growth. Find books in 3 ways: Numerical cal number. Clearly identified categories, color coded and in plain English.

Works with any ILS – work with System to make global changes and make macros to help save time in creating new call numbers. End panels with vinyl letters – easier to shift end-caps. Extras to make it better – main out of pocket cost is labels. Demco tinted label protectors. Lighter colors are more usable. Personnel time – so logistics and only touch items once. How do you make this happen – Key buy-in from Director, department heads, and staff. Selling points: easier for everyone, including us. Not overnight…long-term project. Time to adjust, customizable, get input on how to implement (categories). Not at Tech Services project, because they didn’t have to do it!  Work with those involved.  Board buy-in – be realistic with hours it will take, but remember the end game. Community buy-in – communicate and keep them in the loop. They want the library to be user friendly and to come in and NOT feel dumb.  Used passive programs to test theories.  What should we call this?  Ask them to help and get their interest in the process. (vote, see samples). Questions asked: Self-help v. self-improvement.  Arts, transportation, architecture, and true crime – where would you look for these books (vote with a slip). Architecture was a hot mess, but the rest were ‘spot on.’

Physical work to change the collection: Weed until it hurts and then weed a little more. Weeded books are crying because their work is done!


  1. Pre-label your book – speed through the process. Use staff to the best of their abilities and interests to help with the process. Use Worksheets – simplified process: According to layout sheet, where do you think the book goes?  Ex: Art > Painting > Watercolor and the 4-digit number or True Crime > 8002 People & Places > Law Enforcement (tertiary line: racial profiling) Keeps books together
  2. Staging Process – Start with a section, so staff can see the final product. Keep it moving, not sitting dead in the office. House & Home > 2601 > Cleaning.  2008 Arch HisPres instead of 720.97 and 724.23 and 693.1 and 694.1 and 728 – Historic Preservation books now all together!
  3. Patrons don’t care how you organize it, just as long as it is consistent within the library.  Flow of the library.  You may want to use a test area to work out the details of the process (or beta test with LP or DVD collection).  Pulled out graphic novel collection. Food network stars together or apart? Yes, put star chefs face out!  Ask patrons.  Go through the stacks and decide which books stay put and which will be moved with new friends and neighbors.
  4. IMG_3007Moving Time – Print the labels, put them on the spine, team up, check and double check. Person 1 put it in catalog and print. 2nd person checks accuracy and set aside questions to discuss. Dewey can go in 099 or 092 (hide one, use the other). Where will OUR patron LOOK for this? Final decision… colored label color and then put them back out.

Free to any library (after June 1). Details on web site – cumberlandlibrary.org/browse-method

Adaptable to children’s collection – but not there yet. Remember “A library is a living organism”

Q&A – Can you move full collections, maybe out of order? Try to get the books shifted first – and then label. Ask pages – what do you think of this and the arrangement?

Ingram can pre-process at a cost, but can add a note when you order about the call number.