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.
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).
- Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service.
- Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup.