Libraries, Library Director, Management

Workplace Vibes

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“THIS IS HOW WORK LOOKS LIKE” says “them”

Jane is unhappy because in the summer Bob likes to use his vacation days to take Fridays off and have a long weekend. Bob is upset that Sally gets 4 less public service hours than him, even though Sally has a very specific job as the (INSERT ANY JOB TITLE) whereas Bob is a library assistant/aide whose primary duty is to serve the public. Sally doesn’t really say much to the staff when everyone is together chatting about things, but get her one on one and boy howdy she’ll tell you everything she hates about everyone. And Jim? He’ll only talk to Sally about anything that comes up even though Sally may not be the person he needs to go to. And finally….there’s Barbara. When she’s upset or overworked, she’ll immediately begin nitpicking everything that Jane and Bob do at work.

Does this completely made up story (which, like all good stories has to be somewhat inspired by real life events) sound familiar to you? It should sound familiar to you, as it is the story of every public library that has ever existed in the modern age.

In a perfect world, the public library workplace would be one that is completely in harmony and peace. After all, here’s what your job boils down to: you help people, you let them borrow things that they need, and you create and run cool events. You’re doing work that at all times gives something amazing to your community. While all of this still happens, the public library workplace is usually not full of harmony and peace. And you know what? After now being part of seven different public library workplaces I’m not sure if they’ll ever be. Some have been more harmonious than others. Yet at the core there’s always a little bit of discontent, a touch of negativity, and some jealousy thrown in there. I guess you could say it keeps things interesting.

After being a Library Director for the past two years, I’ve become a lot more in tune with what I’ll call “workplace vibes”. I see them happening, I notice the fallout from them, and I spend my days swathed in the layers of emotions they put out into the world. As the person that steers the ship of this library, I feel like a lot of those vibes are something I need to watch and control. I do my best to make sure the vibes remain positive, but in the end I’m just one person. I have my own life and my own work, and sometimes I just can’t be the only person attempting to make those vibes positive. It takes every staff member to keep the workplace vibes on the up and up. When we do this, we work together and we keep this thing in check.

Will any of us ever achieve a workplace hat is completely in harmony and peace? I don’t think it’s possible. For some reason human beings always need a little bit of unhappiness in their lives. In the past, I put myself through a lot of negative emotions feeling that I wasn’t doing my job because workplace vibes were in the pits. It was wrong of me to do that, as even though I’m the director it is not fully up to me to fix everything. We have to work together and recognize that each of us are at different periods in our journey. If someone is over there on one end, swimming in a sea of depression, we have to recognize that and do our part to not only take care of them but to know that where they may have once stepped up to the plate they may not be able to do that at the time.

Our work lives and our workplace vibes are never consistent. They are always shifting, floating from the positive end to the negative end. Recognizing where we are in that moment within ourselves is key. Through an analysis of our self, we can learn many things that help move us forward. Let’s all think about that right now.

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Libraries, Library Director

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

Libraries, Library Director

Your Title is Meaningless

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When I first became a Library Director someone said this to me: “That’s awesome! You’ll never have to deal with the public in the day to day stuff again!” to which I just kind of nodded and changed the subject. What in the world were they talking about? I’m a librarian! The public is my job! I couldn’t foresee a day where I didn’t deal with the public. I had been working directly with the public for about 10 years of my life.

Then someone told me that I should view myself as a “Non Profit Executive Director.” That sounds fancy, doesn’t it? They asked me this question: “Do Non Profit Executive Directors spend their time working directly with the public?” Their answer was no: Non Profit Executive Directors were focused on big picture stuff! Strategic Planning! Vision! Don’t waste your precious mental energy with the details.

I am writing this post because I have something to say about all of that: I think it is a bunch of crap.

If you are or want to work in libraries, your first thought at all times should be on the public that you serve. From the shelvers to the circulation desk to those running library programs to the director, our focus should always be public facing. What does that mean to me? To me, that means not having an office away from everyone. To me, that means helping out with every possible thing that I can help out with from time to time.

I don’t like titles that much. I have always had this rebellious streak inside of me. I am not this or that and you are also not this or that. In the end, we’re all just people trying to do our best in our day to day lives. Read this article about a recent black hole that the Hubble Space Telescope found and tell me that you think otherwise.  We’re all just little blips in this much bigger thing. To get hung up on titles and roles seems silly. It doesn’t mean that much in the great grand scheme of things.

Last night I looked at the moon as I drove my sons home from their hockey class. The moon was so huge and beautiful. I pointed it out to my son Finn and he was amazed at its beauty and power. I started to think about it; what if the moon just started falling from the sky and crashed into earth? We’d all be gone. Everything that we’ve created would be gone. Nothing would be left and all that we’ve worked hard at creating (both physical and mental) would have no record of having ever existed. That’s another reason why I think titles are dumb. I encourage you to be a human being and make an impact in this moment.

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Aero is four and he loves hockey

Do stuff with your life! Do it now and do it well! Are you holding yourself back because you didn’t go to college? Are you holding yourself back because you believe that you are  above” a certain task? Forget about that! Do it! If you’re working in a library right now go shelve some books or talk to a patron. Do something! Do it all!

Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management

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.

Libraries, Library Director, Titusville, PA

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.