Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing.

Throughout the readings and videos from the first weeks of class, change was a theme that kept popping up and catching my attention. Casey & Savastinuk (2007) mentioned change frequently, focusing on how libraries can use it to improve. Brian Mathews (2012) discussed how libraries need to move beyond basic change and think more like startups. These were my favorite readings that got me thinking about what we do in libraries and how change needs to be a bigger part of that. Change is something people generally do not enjoy, but it can rarely be avoided. Many struggle through it, fight it, or try to ignore it. I have always felt that supervisors in particular need to be skilled at leading employees through change, but that can be hard to do. I tend to like routine because it makes it easier for me to organize, plan, and make sure things get done. However, I also strongly believe we (myself, employees, libraries, etc.) can always find ways to do things better, which usually requires change.

Source: http://www.savagechickens.com/2007/12/nickels-and-dimes.html

Since I’m relatively new at my job, I am currently focusing on learning more about the community my library is serving and trying to gain an overall understanding of how things work. My next steps will be to improve the services and programs we provide, which will certainly require change in some form. Casey & Savastinuk (2007) recommend using consistent and purposeful change and continual evaluation. Doing this requires a lot of effort and buy in from all staff, but I think it is exactly what libraries need to be doing to stay relevant and keep up with the demand of our communities.

Through my work experience, I have found that evaluation tends to come at a few specific times: once a year, at the end of a season, or when there is an internal or external force that requires it (lack of funding, change in priorities, etc.). By having evaluations only at these times, they can become routine and lack value, or they frighten employees because this means making hard choices to get rid of things. If evaluation and change become a natural and consistent part of the process (but not simply routine), those feelings could likely be avoided. I think libraries are great at evaluating, and we love collecting data. However, we need to be using that to move forward, not just look back.

Main takeaways from the readings:

  • Incorporate change and evaluation making it part of the process.
  • Evaluate all services on a regular basis.
  • Nothing is sacred.
  • Get feedback from patrons AND staff.
  • Make it easy for them to submit suggestions without fear of rejection or being ignored.
  • Ask the tough questions: Does the library change enough? Does the library consistently offer the services that library users (or potential users) want?
  • Do not change things simply for the sake of change.
  • Do not be afraid of failing. Include it in the process.
  • “Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing” (Mathews, 2012, p. 12).

 

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30022596@N06/3202532497/

References

6 comments
  1. Great post Michelle. I recently moved to a new branch and find myself starting all over again with getting acquainted with the community. I agree with your tactic in getting to know your area. At my previous branch, I knew the other community pretty well, so it’s a new challenge for me.

    1. It is definitely a challenge to get to know the community, especially if the community is diverse or only certain groups are regular library users. Sometimes I think I need to spend more time out in the community to get a sense of what is happening or who the library isn’t reaching.

  2. Great pictures. I noticed the strong theme of change in the readings for this week and last week as well, and throughout my MLIS so far! There may be something to that… You mention that two of your take-aways were get feedback from patrons and staff and don’t change for the sake of change. These resonate with me now because we are in the process of planning a new building for our library. I think it is essential to get the community involved in the design process, and staff will be working there everyday and know what will be needed.
    Also, every library in our system just got a 72 inch display for keeping patrons updated on library stuff, but most of the slides are not really relevant to the patrons at my branch. I feel like they did it because it seemed like a good idea and not because they had a well thought out plan in mind.

    1. How wonderful that you are getting a new building! I am hoping in the future to get a new building for my branch, but we are trying to find the funding. I agree that it is essential to have community and staff involved in the design process! They have very good insight into what they want and need! The display does sound like a good idea, but hopefully you’ll be able to modify it to fit your patrons! Not everything works the same at every branch in a system.

  3. “By having evaluations only at these times, they can become routine and lack value, or they frighten employees because this means making hard choices to get rid of things. ” This is so interesting to me and I appreciate your articulation. If things become routine – such as evaluation – do we tend not to notice upticks or downturns in whatever it is that we are looking at. And getting rid of things is definitely a difficult task, even if the evidence supports it. we used to call these scared cows.

    1. Yes, I think we might not notice subtle changes if evaluations are too routine because they just become another task to complete. Hopefully, employees see evaluations as meaningful and take the time to consider changes, and whoever is making decisions actually considers the comments and takes action. The process becomes much less effective when one of these pieces is missing.

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