Idea Share, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management

Management Style (Version 2.0)

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Me in my natural library habitat these days. The standing desk is working out well. I feel better about life and my health because of it. I want to have plants all around me and in time this will happen. I want my work home to be like my own little personal room, surrounded by the things that inspire me. They help me to be a better leader.

The last time I did this post was in 2014, and my oh my things have changed. I’ve learned so much, I’ve been through so much, and it feels like the time to write more about management style. Here goes!

I opened up my post in 2014 with the following words:

Did you die?
Did anyone else die?
Did you burn down the building?
Did anyone lose an appendage?

If you answered “no” to all of those questions, you are doing a great job of being a librarian in a public library. -Justin Hoenke’s Management Mantra, 2014.

In many ways, my mantra has not changed. I didn’t fully understand what I meant by these words back in 2014, but in time I’ve grown to understand what I was saying. What I’m saying here is that I think librarians should be approaching their work with the least bit of stress and anxiety that they can bring to the table. Stress and anxiety, or so I have learned over the last few years of my life, are very detrimental to the overall health of a human being. There are many articles out there that talk about this, but this one is very helpful and direct. When we’re stressed and anxious, we’re almost a completely different person. Over longer periods of time where we are stressed or anxious we can begin to see changes happening. I noticed it within myself: I was weaker, my body ached, and headaches happened way too often. There were some other things that contributed to all of this, but there was also stress and anxiety. While I haven’t cut those things out completely, I’ve worked hard to be mindful of my stress and anxiety levels and to back down when I need to breathe.

I think this is what I was trying to get at in 2014. The best library managers and leaders are not the ones that push you to work constantly or to always be thinking of the latest and greatest things. The best ones are the people that remind you to breathe and to take care of yourself. Need to use a sick day as a mental health day? Sure, you deserve this. Feeling overwhelmed by the project you’re in the middle of? OK, set it aside for some time and eventually get back to it. These are behaviors that good managers and leaders will model themselves and then through their actions other staff will pick up on it.

And now will all of that said, let’s dive into the same format we followed back in 2014:

What does a manager/leader do?
As you can see, I’ve expanded this question to include “leader”. I like to use manager/leader in a very similar way. They manage a workflow, they inspire coworkers to try new things, and they’re the guide for keeping the library moving ahead. So what do they do? Everything I just said above. A manager/leader should have a vision as to where things are going and also at the same time be rooted in the present. A manager/leader will understand that the team they have is what they’re working with in the present but will plan ahead for changes in the future. A manager/leader will step up when they need to step up, be the front and center of the organization, and back up their staff at all times.

How does this change what I already do at the library? AND Do I need an office? What does one do in their office?
Your entire library life changes. I can’t believe that five years ago I was thinking all the time about how I could pull together a program and these days are now spent thinking about how I can pull together a policy. The day to day librarian who runs programs and talks to patrons is very different than the librarian who manages and leads. At my current job, I’ve tried to try to approach this with a balance. My office is right near the front door and it has windows all around it. Sometimes I feel like I am in a fishbowl but there are ways that I attempt to get around that (Curtains! Turn off the lights!).

I have no perfect answer with this one. Some days I feel so in tune with the administrative non public side of things, and other days I’m locked in and just wanna talk to people and check out books all day.  So what does that tell me? Do what I wanna do and go with the flow. I think this way of thinking is also something you should pass along to your staff if you’re managing and leading them. Of course, the day to day stuff has to be dealt with, but with everything there’s always a bit of wiggle room.

How does one lead?
Warts and all, I think you just do it. There is the good and that bad. Sometimes you screw up. I remember one time at my current job where I had to talk to an employee about something that ended up being a joke. I came down hard on this person when I really didn’t need to. I messed up and in the end I admitted that I did that. That moment taught me to give some thought to everything before reacting. In the times where I’ve had to have chats with people on my staff, I’ve learned to process everything in advance and give myself time to understand what needs to happen. I think as a result I’ve become more direct: this needs to happen, this is why it needs to happen, and so on and so forth. And the best thing is that there’s always room to grow. If you don’t like who you are and where you are headed, change it up. Growth happens through learning and all of this happens with patience.

So I’m gonna end this post with a cold hard truth: I don’t think you really ever fully know what you’re doing when it comes to anything let alone management and leadership. You’ve just gotta take it all in, process it, learn, and grow from it. I’ve found this approach to be the least stress and anxiety. With those two things minimized (or sometimes completely out of) my life, I feel like I’m the best Justin I can be. I am able to approach things with the best pair of glasses on.

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Idea Share, Libraries, Library Director

An Easy Way For Libraries To Better Understand How Their Library Is Being Used

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Our janitor was out sick today and over the past few days we’ve had almost a foot of snow in our area. With snow comes wet boots and shoes and salt being tracked in through the doors. All of this mixed together results in our library being a little messier than usual these days. It’s all good…everyone deserves sick days to rest and heal and even though the snow can get yucky it is a pretty beautiful sight to see at least a foot of snow all around this time of year.

All of this led to me coming in to work a bit early today so that I could vacuum the library and tidy things up a little bit so everything didn’t add up. As I vacuumed mind mind began to wander. I thought about what Corinne Hill once told me back in the Chattanooga days…”make the maintenance team happy and everything will go smoothly”. I thought about how employees who work in maintenance and janitorial services really do make the library continue to operate and thrive and how we don’t usually think about the great work they do. I also veered off into the world of what janitors may see in libraries. I started to think about the details and what kind of information and ideas can be gleamed from those details. And then this idea hit me as my vacuum hummed and the salt it was picking up made small plinking noises as it made its way up the nozzle and into the dirt chamber…could we better understand how our community is using the library by the snow and salt their shoes are bringing into the library in winter? Why yes, Justin, I think we can!

Here’s what I noticed at the Benson Memorial Library:

  • The most affected areas by the snow and salt were the front entrance. This is of course something that can easily be understood.
  • From the front door, most of the snow and salt seemed to make a straight line past the circulation desk, past our DVD collection, and into our Children’s area.
  • To the left of the front door there was a bit more snow and salt than any other area. This is due to our newspapers and reading tables being in that area. These are heavily used by folks reading the newspaper or using their laptop in the library.
  • In our Reading Room, the most heavily used area was in front of our new books and NYT Bestsellers display. The couches and chairs in that room had some snow and salt, but not as much as in our newspapers area.
  • The back of our building, which is home to our nonfiction and fiction stacks, did not have much, if any, salt and snow. What can I learn from this? Maybe people are not browsing as much?
  • To the left of our circulation desk is the walkway to our restrooms. Of course, there was a lot of snow and salt in this area but we also do have a side exit so it could have been as a result of people using that as their exit.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that there are many different ways for us to learn about our libraries. This is just one way, and in my opinion, one of the better ways to learn. I think there’s a lot for us to process and understand if we just look around. Look up, look down. Sit somewhere different during the day. Try something out that you don’t usually do during your day at work. What you may see or hear can be pretty amazing and overall it could change how you work as a librarian. All in all, these changes are for the best! We need to keep on growing.

 

A Day In The Life, Idea Share, Libraries

A DAY IN THE LIFE from Information Today

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If you’re not a subscriber of Information Today magazine and you like my writing, you may want to consider subscribing today.

How’d this come about? A few years ago, Information Today asked me to be a part of things like this and this and it was really nice to be a part of something like this. This past year, they asked me to write a four part series called TALES FROM THE LIBRARY TRENCHES and that was a blast. I also dabbled in writing some quick News Breaks for them (like this one) and that too was great. At the core, I just really like to write and share things with other human beings. So when Brandi Scardilli, Editor of Information Today reached out and asked if I wanted to do a column the answer was easy: of course!

For the first two entries in my column, I’ve interviewed three great librarians: Cath Sheard and Katherine Bosworth (South Taranaki Libraries, NZ) and Warren Cheetham (CityLibraries Townsville, Australia). I’ve got a lot of really great people coming up in the queue: Porsche Schlapper, Sarah Houghton, James McNutt, Erin Wincek, Alex Lent, and more. Basically this list reads like a who’s who of people who I find interesting, inspiring, and just basically awesome, and my hope is that through this column they will inspire you too.

For now, this column is available via the print publication only, so that’s why I am suggesting that you subscribe….plus there is a whole lot more to read. I’ve always enjoyed this publication. It has a strong tech focus but what shines most about it is that it has a strong focus on people. The contributors all have their own styles and ideas and when brought together they really create a unique read for librarians.

You can read more about my new column A DAY IN THE LIFE over here at this post.

And once again, if you want to subscribe to Information Today click here!

***please note***

  • Yes, I get paid to write this column.
  • No, there is no part of my contract with Information Today that says that I have to write any blog posts on Justin The Librarian promoting anything I write for Information Today.
  • Yes, I am writing this post just because I want to share what I and others have written for Information Today.
  • No, I am not a sell out.

 

 

Idea Share, Libraries, Management

Libraries Who Don’t Charge Overdue Fines: A Storify Tweet Collection

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CLICK HERE to read the full Storify Tweet collection.

Be inspired and make a change in your community for the good of the world. It all starts somewhere.

Idea Share, Libraries, Presentations, Travel

Thank You Texas Library Association

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I want to take a moment to thank the Texas Library Association for bringing me to their 2014 State Conference.  Over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time in San Antonio (an amazing city) with some of the best librarians in the world.  We shared and learned together and it was a great week.

I also want to take a moment to point out just how amazing the Texas Library Association is to their guests.  From the moment when I agreed to present at this conference to right now as I sit waiting for my cab to the airport, the Texas Library Association has done everything to make sure that I had an enjoyable and exciting visit.  Every step of the way was paved with professionalism.  Well done, TXLA, and I hope many other conferences follow your model of excellence when planning their own.

To everyone that I met in San Antonio….it was so great to see you, catch up, and share ideas!

Idea Share, Libraries, Presentations, Teens, Travel

YOUTH LIBRARIANS UNITE!

Poke3I need your help!  I’m giving three keynote speeches in the next few months and I want to fill my presentations with awesome images of awesome kids/tween/teen library happenings, events, maker things, day to day interactions and more.

Care to share?  I hope you will!

If you’re up for sharing, here’s what you need to do:

  • Email your images to justinthelibrarian at gmail dot com
  • Include your name/twitter username/website
  • Give me a brief description of what’s going on in the photo so I can talk about it.
  • Include “Justin! Use these images in your presentation to share the greatness of working with kids/tweens/teens!”

I’ll be speaking in North Carolina, Texas, Alberta, and Baltimore over the next few months and I want to show them that Youth Services Librarians are doing some of the best work in libraries today.

Thank you so much!

Idea Share, Libraries

Self pick up hold self at the Burlingame Public Library

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I’m a bit tired of hearing debates as to whether or not libraries should have self pickup shelves for holds. I say yes! Go for it! Now!

I stopped by the Burlingame Public Library today an saw that they were doing this already…and what a fab system to make the items accessible AND maintain privacy!