I was on the Information Desk in Widener today and my friend and colleague, Joshua Parker, stopped by for a moment. It so happens I’ve been looking into MOOCs lately, with special interest in edX and Coursera, and when I saw Josh it occurred to me that he should be teaching a MOOC on supervision and management. Why? Because Josh is that rara avis, an effective library manager who is hugely well-liked and well-respected.
When I suggested that he teach such a MOOC, Josh laughed and replied that he could sum up his secrets to supervision on a tiny scrap of paper (such as we keep at the Information Desk for researchers to write call numbers out) and he proceeded to do so.
Here’s what he wrote:
- Be a mensch (Josh credits his father in Minnesota with teaching him this)
- a. Care… at least a little
- b. Don’t lie (you may not always be able to convey the entire truth, but do not lie)
- c. Don’t be a coward (you don’t have to be stalwartly brave—just don’t be a coward)
[he credits one of his former bosses with these three bits of wisdom; I know the boss, and it makes perfect sense, because he, too, is well-liked and well-respected].
There are three things you need to know about Josh in addition to his secrets for library supervision:
- Admittedly, he has an edge on common decency since he comes from Minnesota
- You’ll notice he credits others for his secrets for success—a revealing trait of the successful manager
- He cares about the work a lot. A whole lot.
I’ve worked in libraries for 36 years, and have seen good, bad, and indifferent supervisors and managers. If everyone in a supervisory role could incorporate the characteristics and behaviors from that little piece of paper, it would be a vastly improved library world. And I simply can’t improve on Josh’s secrets—can you?
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