We serve the community, and we are a community

Yesterday I attended a PLA 2016 preconference for people interested in being a library director at some point. Some experienced directors shared both practical and inspirational insights about what makes someone an effective leader and director.

Rachel Rubin, director of Bexley Public Library, encouraged attendees to be thoughtful about the organizational culture they help create at their organizations. I found the information about organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) particularly interesting, and it made me think about my library’s recent efforts to intentionally build a healthy organizational culture.

In late 2014, all staff participated in a staff day exercise that asked each person to think about five “ingredients” they would want to include in a recipe for a healthy organizational culture. People contributed words like communication, respect, positivity, etc. A gigantic word cloud gave us a way to highlight some of the most common ideas mentioned.

word cloud

Later in early 2015, we formed a task force to help continue the work of creating a statement that would capture our collective aspirations for what kind of organizational culture we want to build. Representatives from various departments worked together over several months to unpack the terms from the word cloud and construct the following statement. Take a look and let me know what you think!

We are Skokie Public Library.

We serve the community, and we are a community.

Each of us is a whole person with individual experiences and a unique perspective. Our diversity is our strength, and we treat one another the same way we treat our patrons, starting with a belief that others’ intentions are good. As colleagues, we respect, value, support, and encourage one another. We recognize that we are better together, and we are committed to direct, open-minded communication and courageous collaboration.

We share a passion for learning, and partnering with others to build a better community. All of us are generous with our time, talent, and resources. None of us are satisfied with “good enough,” because we know we can be “great.” Whether contributing to new innovations, or continuing established practices, we stay flexible, mindful, and dedicated. And we leave room to experience joy in our work and our colleagues, because together we form a vibrant whole organization.

Proof the Digital Media Lab Works

I don’t post often, but the topic I’ve probably posted most on is digital media labs. So, I just had to share this video highlighting how one of our patrons uses the Digital Media Lab at our library. For all of you out there still wondering if your library should start offering spaces and services like this, please watch!

And, if you haven’t been paying attention to our YouTube channel, do check it out. Our Production Specialist, Taylor, is creating some amazing stuff.

ULC Award for Skokie Realignment

Just a quick post. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to during the first 8 months of my new job, read the description of this ULC (Urban Libraries Council) award the library received recently. Our organizational realignment, still in progress, is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people!

An ambitious new strategic plan, adopted in May 2013 around core values of access, learning, and community involved much discussion about evolving roles for the public library. The plan led to a major organizational re-alignment and shift in staff responsibilities to better support values and strategic goals for community service.

Libraries as Public Spaces

Just watched this great TED talk and wanted to share it:

Love how Amanda Burden ends her talk.

Public spaces have power. It’s not just the number of people using them, it’s the even greater number of people who feel better about their city just knowing that they are there. Public space can change how you live in a city, how you feel about a city, whether you choose one city over another, and public space is one of the most important reasons why you stay in a city.

As I listened to her talk about the power of public spaces, I found myself inserting the word “libraries” in place of “public spaces.”

Libraries have power. It’s not just the number of people using them, it’s the even greater number of people who feel better about their city just knowing that they are there. Libraries can change how you live in a city, how you feel about a city, whether you choose one city over another, and a library is one of the most important reasons why you stay in a city.

In my opinion one of the best things that can happen in a community is a revitalized library space. I experienced that first hand going through the remodel at Arlington Heights Memorial Library, so I love seeing it happen at other neighboring libraries like Niles Public Library and Barrington Area Library. Inspiring!