Tales From The Library Trenches

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I’m really happy to be writing a four part series for Information Today titled Tales From The Library Trenches. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing stories and ideas about movin’ on up in the library world and becoming a director. I also got a chance to talk to some great folks along the way (Laura Koenig, Kenley Neufeld, and Jack Martin to name a few) and hear their amazing stories as well. I hope y’all get to check it out and enjoy it.

If you haven’t already, you should head over to InfoToday.com and take a look at some of the great stuff they’re sharing.

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to their most awesome and excellent newspaper Information Today right here. They make a nice newspaper about important stuff and I enjoy reading it. In fact, I took the picture above while I sat in my hammock on a nice spring day reading the latest issue.

Enjoy!

Manistee County Library (Michigan) seeks a Library Director

Hey! Now this looks like a great job at a wonderful little library system in Michigan! Tge Manistee County Library is a really cool library system that is very community-minded
and this job would be great for a librarian looking to level-up their director/management game! I’d totally be into this opportunity if I was looking for a new job…
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The Manistee County Library Board seeks a Director, due to a retirement. The Manistee County Library (MCL) is a county-wide system, with five branches; the main library in Manistee is housed in an historic 1905 Carnegie library building. The MCL serves a county population of around 25,000 with a mix of union and non-union staff and a budget of more than $1.3 million dollars. The library enjoys strong community support.

The ideal candidate will be community-minded and willing to engage and support a wide range of patrons. The candidate will have: Outstanding leadership and human resource skills; experience working in a union staffing environment; familiarity with budgeting and planning; skill deploying and using technologies in service of the MCL’s mission, and; a deep understanding of the role public libraries play, their daily operations, and future trends.

The candidate must have a Masters degree in library science or library and information science from an ALA-accredited program and a minimum of four (4) years of increasingly responsible experience postdegree in a professional public library position. At least two (2) years must have been in a position of administration and supervision in a public library. A complete position description is available at: manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1.

Manistee County is on the west side of the state, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Beautiful beaches are within a 10-minute walk from the main branch. Salary: From the mid $50s to mid $60s, commensurate with experience; the benefit package includes health insurance and pension plan.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but those received by 5 pm (EDT) on Friday, April 7th, 2017 will receive first consideration. Electronic submissions required. Interested individuals should forward a cover letter, which specifically addresses the position requirements and a resume; candidates selected for interview will be asked to provide three references with complete contact information. Electronic submissions and requests for additional information should be directed to the Manistee County Library: directorsearch@manisteelibrary.org

For more information please see the job listing here: http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/director-search

To submit an Intent to Apply, go here:
http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/director-search-1

For the full job description, go here:
http://www.manisteelibrary.org/director-search-1/job-description-310.pdf/view

Library To-Do List: 2017

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EXPAND OUR LOCAL HISTORY/GENEALOGY OFFERINGS
Titusville, PA has a wonderful and rich history (for a glimpse of it, just read this). As our local public library, I believe that we should be doing as much as possible to make that history accessible to our everyone in the community. To date, we’ve done a few things to increase awareness of our great history. Jess Hilburn started up a blog to share some great local stories she digs up in the Titusville Herald Archives. We’ve got the Titusville Herald archive online for in library use. But in my opinion we’ve got to do more, and slowly but surely we are getting there.

A partnership between the library, the Titusville Historical Society, Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Titusville Alumni Association came about in 2016 and resulted in the beginnings of the Titusville PA Heritage Connection, a website/digital portal that aims to bring all of our organizations together in one online space to make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. While the site isn’t anywhere near complete, the fact that we have it up and the framework is there is a step in the right direction. A big thank you to our Clarion University of PA intern Kerry Neely for her help in getting this set up!

UPGRADE OUR INTERNET CONNECTION
Living and working in Chattanooga, TN was pretty great and one of the big reasons for that was their gig fiber internet connection. Speeds were fast, reliable, and the excitement of having something so state of the art created such a positive buzz in the community which led to some great things being tried out to make Chattanooga TN a better place for all.

Since moving to Titusville, PA, I’ve been wishing we’ve had that kind of thing to spur some excitement. Our internet options here in town are lacking, and the ones we can connect to have average to terrible service. HOWEVER, I hope to change that in 2017. To my excitement, I discovered that the town does have fiber internet lines in a few places. After some conversations with people around the community and others in the state, I found out that THERE’S FIBER LINES SURROUNDING THE ENTIRE BENSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY. Here’s a beautiful image of that fiber line coming right down in front of the library and turning right down our alley. Wow.

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In 2017, I’m gonna do my best to get us connected to these fiber lines so that in the future we can offer better internet access to our patrons. I don’t know how this will look, I don’t know how much this will cost, and I don’t know if I’ll fully succeed, but I’m going to try. As far as I know, we’d be the second institution in Titusville to access this connection (the University of Pitt at Titusville is the first) and the first public space to offer high internet speeds. Like I said above, we’ll see, but for now I’m gonna dream big and try out something that’s potentially huge for our community.

PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS

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Yup, these are my kids Aero and Finn at a library program. They come to a lot of them because they have a lot of fun and they enjoy getting to hang out with other kids. That’s what it is all about!

One of the big things that libraries do best these days is to offer educational and fun programs for all ages. In 2016, we’re going to have offered 320 programs that were attended by over 8,000 community members. That’s not bad for a public library that has a service area of around 14,000 people.

2017 is gonna bring a lot more of that and hopefully in larger numbers. I can’t and won’t take my foot off of the gas pedal when it comes to programming in libraries. We have to constantly be offering something to our community members. Programs are unique to libraries and something that we do very well. Story times and after school clubs work best for our younger audience, while nighttime events and musical performances work well for our adult and senior citizen crowd. We plan on having more of those throughout the year.

DO MORE TO ESTABLISH THE LIBRARY AS A COMMUNITY SPACE
One of the best things public libraries have going for their is their space. Most, if not all of us, have amazing buildings in centrally located areas. These buildings are one of our biggest assets. They do some of the simplest things that a library can do: provide space, warmth, comfort, and adventure. I’ve been thinking and speaking about this idea for a few years, and in 2017 I hope to do more to make that idea more cohesive and understandable to everyone out there.

STAY POSITIVE
No matter what we face directly in front of us in 2017, we have to remember that there is love and support all around us. Take a look around at your online social networks, groups like EveryLibrary, and your local community organizations that support the library. Take a moment and look at the community members you serve on a daily basis at your library. All of these groups and all of these people believe in the work that you do. I’m going to do my best to keep that up front in my head and my heart in 2017. I urge you all to do the same.

Work Environments, Happiness, and Human Beings

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Two really great articles about work environments and employee happiness came out this weekend, both via the NY Times:

When You’re in Charge, Your Whisper May Feel Like a Shout

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

I liked these articles a lot as it really jives well with what I’ve been thinking these past few months: leadership sets the tone of the workplace, and that tone is KEY to the success or failure of the organization. Success and failure are very loose terms and ideas that have varying definitions, but to me success means that you have happy employees and happy library users that have positive experiences in the library. Failure, in my opinion, are library employees and users that are generally unhappy to be in the library.

These articles also make me think about how I say things and what I say to my employees. I think openness and honesty are two great practices to put in place. Talk about what’s going on behind the scenes and how board meetings are going. Talk about grants, budgets, and more. Be open and be honest. Don’t paint a horrible picture of doom and gloom even if things are tough in the moment. We work in libraries, and what a great place they are to work at! We let people borrow things! We share things with our community! It is a great job.

I don’t believe in the whole “competition leads to great innovations” idea fully. Yes, I think competition does lead to innovation but I think it also leads to employee unhappiness and burnout. That is something that I think should be the focus of our conversations. People and their lives and happiness are much more important than innovation. Humans adapt to so much. Sometimes that change takes awhile but we always get to where we are going. Unhappiness and depression caused by stress can have lasting and devastating effects. Depression is a horrible thing that no one should have to experience, especially depression that is caused by a work environment.

You are not your job. You are an awesome human being.

What Does a Library Director Do?

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As I enter my sixth week at the Benson Memorial Library, I think I can say that I’ve somewhat successfully made the jump from a Youth Services Librarian to a Library Director. I’ve had two board meetings, was involved in some internet outages at the library, and a few other things that I can’t remember but trust me they were kind of a big deal. Everything is a big deal at the library!

I’ve put a lot of my focus on the actual building these days. I look up, I look down, and I look all around to make sure this place is in tip-top shape. I see a spot on the carpet and you know what I wanna do? I want to find a reasonably priced carpet cleaning service to get rid of that stain. I noticed that we have a broken gutter in the back of our property that may or may not have led to some water damage last winter. You know what? That gutter needs to be fixed or we’ll be in bad shape if it continues to get worse.

I am finding that I am a library director that thinks about things a lot. I think about how we can improve and better serve our community. I think about the little details that our every day users and staff encounter at the library. I think about what it takes to create a fun, relaxed, and positive work environment. I think about how we need to take care of our building. After all, it is one of our most important assets. And isn’t it just SO beautiful?

IMG_1672I think one of my proudest moments as a library director has been working with a local plumbing and heating service to figure out why our basements were so cold. At times, our Board Room and Story Time Room were hovering around 50-55 degrees. It was not an ideal temperature to have any kind of event! We were confused. The air conditioning was set to 70 degrees. Why would these rooms be so much cooler than everything else? It turns out it was a simple fix. Our two dehumidifiers were working overtime this summer. For some reason, they had been set to 50 degrees. They were running constantly. And guess what else? The dehumidifiers also acted as our basement air conditioners. The cool air they were pumping out was pumped back into our Board Room and Story Time Room. That’s why it was so cold! After looking at the settings, we increased the temperature on the dehumidifiers to find the sweet spot and VOILA! We had a temperature that both the patrons and the dehumidifiers could live with. Awesome.

Sometimes, the best things you can do for a library involve things like temperature, dehumidifiers, and the quality of the experience.

Hello Titusville, PA!

Benson-Memorial-LibraryHi everyone! I am very happy to announce that I have accepted the Executive Director position at the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, PA. I’m pretty excited to head back to Northwestern Pennsylvania and work in Crawford County. Ten years ago, my wife Haley and I met in Crawford County (Meadville, PA) and we started our life together. We’ve traveled and lived in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, Portland Maine, and Chattanooga Tennessee over the last 8 years. We’ve loved every place we have lived and worked, but there was always something inside of us that knew that one day we’d be back to Crawford County.

I am really excited to lead the awesome team at the Benson Memorial Library and to serve the community of Titusville, PA. Titusville is a great town full of wonderful people. I am very lucky to be the leader of a library that will continue to be such a vital part of the community.

Before I head out, I want to thank everyone that I have worked with at the Chattanooga Public Library over the past two years (I can’t believe it has been two years….which reminds me of this scene from “The Jerk”). I have enjoyed every moment of my time here in Chattanooga. I have grown considerably as a person and librarian and I thank everyone for being patient and trusting with me.  The team that Corinne Hill and Nate Hill have worked to assemble at the Chattanooga Public Library is one of the great all time teams. I will miss you a lot but we shall always be connected.

In the meantime, we’ll be packing up our orange house over the next month and tidying everything up here in Chattanooga, TN as we begin the next step in our journey. Thank you all for your love and support.