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.

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