Monthly Archives: December 2013

Posts and Visitors: 2013 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 70,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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An Awesome Experience With Strategic Planning

The awesome part was working with my daughter to present something that we are both passionate about to other library professionals. Besides gaining a new appreciation for just how awesome Kimberly is, we experienced something that few parents and children get to experience – getting paid to work together.

What greater experience could a librarian have than to present a workshop with their child, also a librarian, who is now a colleague? Last week Kimberly and I spent two 8-hr days in Utah presenting our Strategic Planning Workshop to two groups of library directors and their board members.

Our workshop covered;
• What Is a Strategic Plan,
• Why Do Strategic Planning,
• The Strategic Planning Process,
• A Strategic Planning Format, and
• Details of each step in the process, with
• Breakout sessions for participants to collaborate and develop new elements of their own Strategic Plan.

Kimberly Planning

Based on our book Crash Course in Strategic Planning, published by Libraries Unlimited last August, we developed this Strategic Planning fundamentals workshop and were contracted by Utah State Library to deliver it to their first group of librarians.

Steve Goals

The icing on the cake was that the participants left at the end of the day inspired to take on developing a visionary strategic plan for their library. Some of the participant comments included;

“Thank you! I came in this morning planning on a boring lecture but you guys were great. I am not stressed about Strategic Planning now.”

“I came today discouraged at the whole thing. After the class, I feel so much better. I feel this is really a goal I can reach. Thank you Thank you.”

“It was excellent. Thank you. This is such an intimidating process and I learned a lot.”

“I was expecting to be overwhelmed and confused but I came away understanding the need for Strategic Plans. I now believe that we can put together something for our library that will be useful. Very clear and understandable. Thank you!”

“Steve and Kimberly gave a wonderful plan to follow so our strategic plan will now actually reflect the community and library’s needs in regard to the patrons’ expectations. I now have a direction to follow in developing our first long-term strategic plan.”

“I should have brought board members to participate in this.”

“It was perfect! Fantastic!”

Visit KD Matthews Consulting for more opportunities to learn about Strategic Planning.

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The Highly Successful 21st Century Library Director

I recently had a conversation with my good friend urban library director back east. We have known each other quite a while, and I have enjoyed her accomplishments and admired her success. I asked her what she thought was the major factor to being a successful library director. Is there one major trait or characteristic she has that she considers the essential factor to success? Her reply was inspiring.

There are two things I think are fundamental to my success and anyone leading a library (or any service organization like this).

1) This organization and job are my number one priority. I consider it my job to know more, do more and care more than anyone else in the organization. I am the Library Director 24/7 – because the Library exists 24/7. The facility is always here and whether I work on a particular day or not – we are still open and serving the public.

I am invested 150%. If I’m not at work – I’m thinking about work. I am always solving problems, considering angles for approaching challenges, developing strategies and planning ahead. I am never off-clock because the library never stops existing. I never shirk from that responsibility and the buck ALWAYS stops on my desk. Anyone who either feels they are “not always on the clock” or doesn’t accept that, and that at the end of the day EVERYTHING is their responsibility, is not going to be very successful.

As a “Library Director” you are ALWAYS the Library Director. I never show up at an event and have someone in the community say “Oh, it’s (her name).” They always say “Oh, it’s the Library Director.” You are no longer a private person. You will ALWAYS represent the Library. And, if you do not like that or don’t want that – then this isn’t the job for you. I know that anywhere I go in town or anything I do can (even if it does not – it CAN) reflect on the Library. My DUTY is to make sure that I always present the Library and myself in the best possible light so as not to besmirch the Library’s reputation, or jeopardize our funding, etc.

2) The needs and mission of the organization ALWAYS come first. It isn’t about me and it isn’t about the staff. I am responsible to see that this organization functions at the highest possible level of efficiency, responsibility, accountability and integrity. My job is to always meet that expectation and see to it that everyone else gets as close as possible.

It isn’t about the staff. I’m not here – the library isn’t here – to give them a job. They are here to serve the public and the taxpayer. I see staff as a resource to be managed – not a group of people to take care of. I do acknowledge it is useful to have a second in command that is more touchy-feely on a daily basis, as long as they never interfere with getting the job done – whether that is staff accountability or layoffs.

Her reply didn’t surprise me, because I know how she operates and she has shared many stories and issues in her career, but it was inspiring to read it so well articulated. Because her reply reinforces (as I suspected it would) the leadership ideas that I put forth almost a year ago. My December 2012 post, Top Ten Traits of Great Library Leaders, listed these 10 traits in ascending order.

10. Great Leaders Do Not Do It Alone

9. Great Leaders Express Gratitude

8. Great Leaders Understand Motivation

7. Great Leaders Delegate and Empower

6. Great Leaders Are Learners

5. Great Leaders Are Problem Solvers

4. Great Leaders Are Decision Makers

3. Great Leaders Take Responsibility

2. Great Leaders Are Visionary

1. Great Leaders Have High Character

Library leaders should be striving to be “great” leaders. It’s what the profession needs to flourish in the ambiguous future and regain the library’s relevance in the community. It is what’s needed for survival, and it is a privilege to know my urban library director friend who epitomizes these traits.


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Librarianship Truisms

Truisms? Those are the ideas and concepts that are perpetually true, regardless of circumstances or time.

My most favorite “truism” which I learned many years ago is that: “Theory without practice is empty and practice without theory is blind.” [Kidd, J. R. (1973). How Adults Learn. New York: Association Press.] In other words, a library science degree alone is not enough to be successful, or even competent, as a 21st Century Librarian. Today’s librarians require additional skills, most of which won’t be taught in Schools of Information Science. [Read Multidisciplinary – A New 21st Century Librarianship Skill]

It seems a no-brainer that librarianship is THE foundation of any library model, regardless of when it exists whether 19th Century or 21st Century. So, to say that “21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries” is a truism at the heart of 21st Century libraries may seem like another serious no-brainer. But, no one should hope to create a 21st Century Library without first being staffed with 21st Century Librarians. [Read Librarianship Is The Foundation]

If something is worth doing it’s worth doing well – in the case of 21st Century Librarianship – it’s worth doing excellently! That’s what it will require in order for the institution of the library to survive, transform, and reinvent itself into the relevant institution that every community needs. Yes, every community NEEDS A LIBRARY, so….. “Go Big or Go Home!” is another librarianship truism. It’s far past time for visionary leadership and 21st Century librarianship. In the future there is no place for the timid librarian. [Read Go Big or Go Home!]

This truism came from Usher when he accepted his Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist award at last year’s AMA Music Awards Ceremony. Referring to his entire team of collaborators, musicians, supporters, etc. he made a fairly profound statement by recognizing that no individual achieves success alone. And, as artists are prone to do, he did it poetically – “Team work makes dreams work.” The same truism applies to your library’s dreams. Your library team will make your library’s dreams a reality. One leader, no matter how capable or inspiring, cannot achieve a highly successful library for their community by their self alone. It requires every single person within the organization, as well as outside supporters, to achieve the kind of success required for the 21st Century Library to evolve and flourish. [Read “Team Work Makes Dreams Work”]

“Actions speak louder than words.” is a truism that is often applied in any context, but it is especially true regarding librarianship because if you create that ideal 21st Century Library through actions, you will have very little need of words of advocacy or advertisement. Other people will do that for you. The other old truism of “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your doorstep.” is also applicable in building a 21st Century Library. When the library is the best thing in town for information access, maker space, gaming, collaborative environment, or whatever your community needs most, people will beat a path to your library door. [Read Perception 3 – Millennial Thinking]

What truisms do you know that apply to 21st Century Librarianship?


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