A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 PLA Boot Camp Management Training session in Nashville, TN. It was an awesome, mind blowing experience that I’ll be sure to remember for many years to come. Many thanks to the awesome staff at the Chattanooga Public Library for supporting me and sending me to this excellent program. I am excited to get back to work and use what I learned in my every day work.
So what is PLA Boot Camp?
Get your library in strategic shape and prepare to meet any challenge with the intensive and interactive PLA Boot Camp program led by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia. This popular public library course offers four and a half days of management training built around dynamic individual and group activities.
Sandra and June will lead participants through an engaging and challenging curriculum that emphasizes the roles of innovation, risk, and change in public library management; the impact of trends on local service priorities; the value of data-based decision-making; and the skills to effectively allocate resources.
You can read more about the program here
My experience at PLA Boot Camp was challenging but overall very rewarding. I felt very much out of my comfort zone at the program for the first few days. For some, this may be an alarming thing, but I’ve always believed that in order to grow and change the way you look at things you need to be removed from your comfort zone.
As a teen librarian, I’ve trained myself to be quick to change. Teens are fickle creatures. In order to keep the library a super awesome place for them, I have to be well attuned to their needs and that usually involves making gut decisions. While I will keep on doing this, PLA Boot Camp also turned me onto data based decision making, aka having numbers and information behind your ideas. Simply stated, this blew my mind. We were given an exercise to put a price tag on how much it costs our fictitcious library to add labels to books. When all was said and done and we factored in the time spent putting on the labels, the time spent shelving the books, the time spent on ordering materials, and more and estimated that our fictitious library was spending roughly 78 work hours per year putting extra labels on books. Wow. Think about all of the other things we could do with our time.
Another one of my big takeaways was in the area of resource allocation. Libraries always have financial issues to face, so how do you allocate collection, technology, and facilities resources to support library activities? What I learned was that you do away with the idea that “we’ve always done things that way” and instead make decisions based on what your community needs at that moment that are backed up by the data that you have. While it may seem like an easy thing to do (you just do it!) it can take some time to get your brain wrapped around all of the little pieces. Management is a lot like playing Tetris. You have to make a lot of quick moves but be very aware of the overall picture.
I highly suggest PLA Bootcamp for anyone in the library world looking to expand their skills and learn a lot about management and how to make tough decisions. June and Sandra are excellent instructors who know what it takes to help librarians grow.