February 16, 2018

Gail M. Staines | Movers & Shakers 2004


Building Partnerships


Gail Staines is probably the only Mover & Shaker who lists the U.S.A. Equestrians Association among her professional memberships. But it’s not that far a leap from what she does in her work as director of the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC), where she’s responsible for making 98 libraries of all types work together to leverage their resources.

‘The more you try to micromanage a horse’s every movement, the more it rebels,’ Staines says. ‘You have to build a partnership, which takes many years and a lot of give and take. If you take this to heart when you work with people, the results are phenomenal.’

One proof of her skills at team-building is that under her leadership, WNYLRC became one of the first multitype library consortia in the country to implement a virtual union catalog and interlibrary loan system. She’s received Library Services and Technology Act funding and enlisted librarians from public, academic, and hospital libraries to start the 24/7 ‘Ask a WNY Librarian’ service, using software that can also double for guided group training sessions and online meetings.

Providing low-cost, easy access to staff development is one of her goals. Research shows that if you invest in your staff by letting them attend workshops, participate in projects, and serve on committees, you actually save money by reducing the turnover rate, Staines says.

Staines doesn’t just preach staff development; she lives it as a visiting professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Informatics. She also speaks and writes frequently about information literacy, which requires genuine collaboration between librarians and faculty. ‘Collaboration does not equal scheduling,’ she says. Librarians and faculty must work together to incorporate research skills into course and project design, teaching, and grading.

Since legislators are the funding source, Staines gets them on her team through an annual ‘Legislative Training Event,’ where regional, state, and federal officials and their staffs learn to use the virtual union catalog, Ask a WNY Librarian, and access other library resources. Knowing that the most effective training is hands-on, she has attendees work individually with local librarians who help them locate online and print information about topics they choose when they register.

Whether you’re working with horses or with people, respectful partnership brings the best results.




Current Position: Executive Director, Western New York Library Resources Council, Buffalo
Degrees: Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, University of Buffalo, 1993; MLS, University of Buffalo, 1986
Professional Activity : Visiting Professor, School of Informatics, University of Buffalo