Show and Tell
Gina Millsap says that when the staff of the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL) told her they wanted to create the best public library in the country, ‘That was it,’ she says. ‘I was looking for a library organization that wanted to wow its customers and make them proud.’
Within days of becoming TSCPL’s director in 2005, Millsap scheduled meetings with every manager and supervisor individually and with 220 other staff in focus groups. She asked them what needed to stay the same and what needed to change, what barriers prevented them from doing their best work, and what made them feel valued. ‘People were absolutely bursting to talk,’ she found.
Millsap moved just as quickly to put the library at the table in community decision-making and to show local leaders what the library can do for them. New in town though she was, she established a beachhead with Topeka’s Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and the United Way.
Kansas State Librarian Christie Brandau, says Millsap has shown her users an ‘exciting, technologically savvy, and user-centric library.’ The new Digital Branch and Services Department serves distance users with blogs for adults and teens, wikis, podcasts, and a library MySpace page.
Millsap gave her staff free rein to show customers their stuff. And the community did, indeed, say, ‘Wow!’