Friday, June 30, 2006

In search of an emotionally healthy library

Wow, I could have used this last week during my interview. I always try to think of great interview questions to ask, but I never can come up with anything good.

On the really scary side, the article lists "Characteristics of Emotionally Unhealthy Libraries". I'll just list the ones that are particularly appropriate for my library:

  • Imposition of one person’s views on the rest of the library
  • Lack of communication between divisions, lack of mechanisms for communication
  • Lack of mission and vision articulated by the administration
  • Library lacks good communication with its stakeholder groups (i.e., community, faculty, students, etc.)
  • Culture is dominated by a few negative personalities that “act out” their own personal agendas or decrease staff morale.
  • Passive library administration that seeks no conflict or resolution to unhealthy situations
  • Complaints are ignored or are used against the staff member who complains.
  • Library administration not held responsible by stakeholders
  • Double standard for performance by library administrators and staff (i.e., staff may not arrive late but administrators can).
  • Hiding behind prestige of collections or “good old days” image
  • Lack of respect for the staff by the library administration
  • Lack of clear direction from library administration.

I think the writing is on the wall, though. The rumor mill has it that one of the board members finally blew their top a the budget meeting when they looked at how much money the library has been spending on consultants (space planning, building, architect, marketing) -- with nothing to show for it.

And that's the key isn't it? Results. In our case, it's not that we're trying all sorts of new and innovative ways to reach out, it's that we don't even try. And the only person to blame in our case is the director. She will ask staff for ideas on how to market the library, but then she will shoot down every single one of them.

My library is celebrating it's 40th year this year. It's the last day of June and we've done nothing to celebrate. Zip, ziltch, zero, nada. And supposedly we're going for a referendum in April to raise funds to double the size of the building. There's just no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that's ever going to happen. Sad, really.

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