September 4, 2015

Managing Libraries

Berkeley PL Director Resigns Amid Controversy

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In the wake of multiple controversies involving his staffing decisions, management style, weeding practices, and perceived levels of transparency and honesty, Berkeley Public Library (BPL) director Jeff Scott announced his resignation on Monday, August 31, after less than a year in the post.

Lessons from a Leader’s First Year | Backtalk

A colleague once told me that librarians get into management like penguins falling off an ice floe. While it’s not the most flattering image, it felt a little too apt during my first year as an assistant director. Moving into leadership has been the single most formative experience of my career. It’s also been one of my most difficult professional challenges, and sometimes I still relate all too well to a flailing, flightless bird dropping into icy water.

The Art of Weeding | Collection Management

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Getting rid of books can feel uncomfortable and look bad to community members, but careful weeding is key to the health of a collection.

San Antonio Libraries’ Standoff Ends In Partnership

San Antonio Public Library and Bexar County Bibliotech Digital Library logos

The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) and BiblioTech, the all-digital library operated by Bexar County and also located in San Antonio, have reached an agreement that will let the county reduce its payments to the city by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, instead reinvesting that cash in digital content that will be accessible to users of both library systems. The compromise marks the resolution of a funding fight that stretches back to last year, when city officials complained that the county was not footing its fair share of the bill for library services.

All-In Start-up for Libraries | Library Leadership

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Government services, such as public libraries, are often told to run their organizations “like a business.” However, when a start-up takes a risk and fails, it’s considered part of the business’s evolution. Whereas when a library takes a risk and fails, the entire program can be seen as wasteful. Can the director of a library afford to don the black mock turtleneck of a visionary entrepreneur like Steve Jobs and still stay ­employed?

Manage the Device Deluge | Professional Development

STAFF UP A screen shot from eMedia online ­training 
at Douglas County Libraries, CO

Librarians have always taught patrons how to use the tools that serve their information needs. We had to explain card catalogs, vertical files, microfilm/fiche, photocopiers, and OPACs. The fundamental difference about the tech needs of the 21st century is the ever-changing variety of personal devices that patrons use to access our services. Some libraries are lucky enough to have dedicated staff with special training to serve these patrons directly, but most of the time it’s a library generalist fielding question after question about something new every day. How do frontline staffers with self-taught or very basic knowledge of technology stay savvy about the latest and hottest gadgets? How do we train nontechnical staff to troubleshoot effectively and train our patrons to use their own gadgets?

Border Crossing: An inter-city initiative extends impact | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

An inspirational level of collaboration has been undertaken between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed at the end of 2014 has set in motion deeper cross-cultural collaborations and opened opportunities to expand efforts already under way between these sister cities divided by one of the busiest international borders in the world.

Rethink the Staff Workplace | Library by Design, Spring 2015

COLLABORATE & LISTEN Staff, like patrons, need flexible spaces in which 
to work together, as illustrated by North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library. 
Photo by Brent Brafford/NCSU

As libraries make their public-facing spaces more people-focused and mobile tech makes big us/them service desks obsolete, it’s important to ensure that staff have creativity-enhancing spaces of their own along with the work processes, tools, and training to be effective.

Small Libraries, Big Impact | Award Retrospective, 2005-2015

collage of Best Small Library in America LJ covers

The Best Small Library in America award was created in 2005 to honor libraries that meet the challenges of smaller budgets, space, technology, and collections and still find ways to bring expanded, innovative, and supportive services to their smaller communities. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for the past decade the award has encouraged and showcased exemplary work in libraries serving populations under 25,000. Judging criteria include creativity in developing model services and programs, innovations in public access computing, demonstrated community support, and evidence of the library’s role as community center. This year LJ looks back to see how the award has influenced the winning libraries, their communities, and their futures.

Author! Author! | Programming

GRAND PRIZE Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award winner Ann Patchett (signing) at Tulsa City-County Library. Photo by John Fancher

Public libraries are all about access: to services, to data, to books. Offering patrons access to some of their favorite authors is a bonus but an important one. Author events strengthen the existing bonds between readers and books: seeing an author read from his or her work and having the chance to ask questions—or just hear the answers—offers a new dimension of engagement. But these events also reinforce the idea of the library as a point of entry into people’s reading lives, beyond simple readers’ advisory. The landscape of author events is continually changing. As programming budgets shrink and authors’ publicity tours get smaller, even libraries with successful track records need to be increasingly nimble and imaginative. While the choice depends on a library’s resources, location, and patron demographics, there are a few best practices that can help librarians develop exciting and well-attended programs.