All posts by CMLE

Episode 315: Future of Libraries



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Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries, for this, our final episode this season! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at the future of libraries!

Joining us is Guest Host Susan Schleper, from CentraCare hospital library in St Cloud.

People who think of libraries are repositories for dusty books, or as places where we read books to tiny kids – or sit around and read books ourselves all day – are incredibly behind the times on libraries and their work today.

Where are we going in the future? It is impossible to say for sure, but all signs point to increased service work with the communities libraries serve – students, parents, senior citizens, lawyers, college alumni, tiny kids, and literally everyone else. Everyone is served by libraries, multiple libraries at that, and that service is only going to increase. We are a Multitype library system, which means our members are public libraries, schools, colleges, law libraries, hospital libraries, history archives, rehab centers – any organization with a library. This gives us perspective on the work libraries are doing across the board, and the ways libraries are able to serve their communities.

The American Library Association, with funding from IMLS, has started The Center for the Future of Libraries. They work to:

  • Identify emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve
  • Promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future
  • Build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues

The Center for the Future of Libraries works to identify trends relevant to libraries and librarianship. This collection is available to help libraries and librarians understand how trends are developing and why they matter. Each trend is updated as new reports and articles are made available. New trends will be added as they are developed.”

This is our final show of Season Three! Tune in next Thursday to our book group podcast: Reading in Libraries for Season Two. We’ll be back with Season Four of Linking Our Libraries Aug 30, and talking about 15 competencies for successful library managers.


Episode 314: Research and Writing



Fountain pen writing (literacy)

Check out our full information page here!

Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we discuss Research and Writing. Joining us is Guest Host Rhonda Huisman, Dean of the Library at St. Cloud State University.

Talking about research and writing is not typical for management development; but sharing your experience is an important part of being a good library leader. Remember that you are not “just” a manager in your Reference department, or of your hospital library, or working in your grade school; you are also part of a profession. That means you get some great benefits in being part of a large group; and you have some responsibilities back to that group. Carrying out research, and communicating the good and bad experiences you have in the profession, are ways to fulfill that responsibility.

This is a surprisingly tough sell for many library people. They worry they are not doing things that are important enough to share, or that they are not good writers, or that they just do not know where to start.

Fortunately, these problems are easily overcome. In our profession we have a lot of people who are active in publishing their work – in journals, in blogs, in newspapers, in podcasts, or other venues. You can find all sorts of resources on good writing and on publishing to help you get started. And it does not matter at all how big or how small they are – every single library we have ever visited is doing something interesting and unique. Never worry that you have nothing of value to say.

In libraries and archives, research is all about finding ways we can help our organizations to function better, and do more to reach out to our communities. Just like everything else we do, it is about solving problems and connecting people with the right information. As a manager, you want to be actively involved in solving problems and finding answers to different issues that will arise in your organization. Understanding some basics on research will let you do this.


Episode 313: Teamwork



Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept

 

Check out our full information page here .

Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at teamwork ideas.

When a manager (or professor) announces people will be working in teams, the result is always the same: groans, eye rolling, and immediate claims of “I always have to do all the work on a team!” It is frustrating to hear the constant refrain of “Can’t I just work by myself???” complete with dramatic sighs and a multitude of excuses for being a solo operator.

The answer is the same: No. This is a team organization, profession, and life. No one gets things done alone, even as a solo librarian. We always work in teams, we always work with and for other people. Remember our basic purpose in libraries? It is to serve our communities. We are defined by working with other people to accomplish goals, and to be stronger and better together. This is true whether or not you like your team, whether or not you want to be part of the team, and whether or not everyone does the amount of work you think they should do. Even when people do pieces of the work alone, they are part of the overall team. Working collaboratively is the only way an organization will succeed. It really is that simple.

 


Episode 312: Networking



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Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at strategies for networking. Joining us is Guest Host Maria Burnham, from Sauk Rapids- Rice High School.

Building your professional network is always going to be helpful to you – and to them. Networking does not mean going to high-energy parties and shaking lots of hands. Okay, it CAN mean that; but it usually involves just making connections with people. Remember when we talked about advocacy last week? It was all about making connections. Networking is that same thing – but you think about connecting with people across your profession, instead of stakeholders. They are the ones who can help you with questions about your daily work, can point you toward solutions to problems, and who will celebrate with you when things are great. You will do the same for them.

As library people, we truly are stronger and better when we work together. Whether you are at a conference, new in a school, alone in your library, or just looking to build up a network of people who do what you do at work – networking can make you stronger. Your contributions back to the network will make them stronger too.

 


Episode 311: Advocacy



Want to talk with us about this topic? Do you, your staff, or your organization need training in this topic? Want to write a policy, or develop a program?  We are here for you!
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Check out our full information page for all the info as well as links to the books we discuss!

Happy National Library Week!!! This is our chance to celebrate libraries, and all the wonderful things we do for our communities. In honor of this week, we discuss a topic both scary and exciting: Advocacy.

Joining us is returning Guest Host Jami Trenam, from Great River Library System and is the outgoing Chair of the Minnesota Library Association Legislative Committee.

If you are like many library professionals, you probably lean toward introversion rather than being an extroverted party animal; and the idea of needing to be an advocate sounds kind of scary. But advocacy is not just standing on a soapbox, screaming out your ideas. It means making connections with individuals and groups, and sharing ideas with people. It means knowing who is in your community, and reaching out to them to talk about the things you are doing: materials, services, and programs.

Not surprisingly, we are generally a pretty easy sell! People who do not use the library regularly, and even those who do, are often stunned by the range of things we have to offer. You may have seen some of those neat materials and services on our website and social media this week, and hopefully you saw some great ideas on library websites all over the place.

It will be so important for both you and your library to advocate for existence, for success; learning a few basic procedures for advocating will help you to keep things going.


Episode 310: Communication



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This week we are looking at strategies for communication! It’s a surprisingly tough skill, but we have some strategies.

Joining us is Guest Host Jami Trenam, from the Great River Library System and the Minnesota Library Association Legislative Committee.

Communication is one of those leadership skills that seems like it should be so easy to do. However, everyone discovers that communicating with colleagues, patrons, Boards, funders, and community members is wildly complicated. It is so easy to issue directions, or to send out a policy, or to post news to your social media account. Just saying things is easy, and if that were the extent of true communication, it would be easy too.

Instead, you need to think of communication as a larger process, each step filled with the possibility of failure.


Episode 309: Building Organizational Culture



The Three Circles Model Scheme engThis week we discuss Building Organizational Culture.

Joining us is Guest Host Karen Pundsack, director of the Great River Regional Library system here in Minnesota.

The Basics

You know the difference between being in a workplace with a terrible organizational culture, and one that supports you and your professional development. If you have worked in a terrible place, you know how hard it is to get motivated to work – or even to come to work. We talked about this in our Season Two Bonus Episode on Stress Management.

When your culture is good – that’s great! People generally enjoy their job, they like to come to work, and their colleagues and patrons are generally a source of good feelings. As a leader in this environment, you main job is not to mess it up. Keep the lines of communication open, keep sharing positive ideas and energy, and stay out of the way.

On the other end of the spectrum are too many libraries that have a toxic work environment. People who work in these places are frustrated by these bad working environments. Giving their best efforts is not even an option; getting through a day relatively unscathed is pretty much all they are trying to do. Managers are terrible, patrons are mean, colleagues are either not doing any work or focused on back-stabbing instead of working for success.

“Good” means whatever you decide it means, so creating a definition of a good culture in your specific library is an important start. It cannot be just your vision of a good workplace – it needs to work for everyone. Then this is a valuable – and hard – topic for a staff meeting. After everyone gives ideas on what “good” is, what gaps do they see between today’s reality and that definition? How do they see being able to move from here to there? What can everyone do to make things easier on each other as you transition?

Set realistic goals for improving the culture. It did not become toxic overnight, and it will not get better that fast. But keep repeating your determination to make it happen, keep emphasizing the importance of a good work environment.

This is a quick look at building a good organizational culture. You can think of this like weeding your collection, or garden: if you keep on top of problems, the rest of it will be much nicer. So pay attention to your culture, and keep working to make it positive.

Thanks to our Guest Host Karen! And check back in with us next week to discuss Communication.


Episode 308: Budgeting



Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season we are working through the tools you can use to be a better manager and leader.

This week we discuss Budgeting.

Joining us are our Guest Hosts Karen Pundsack and Aron Murphy from Great River Regional Library System here in Minnesota.

(Check out our full information page for all the info and links to books!)

It is a scary word, and a scary concept, for some. To make it worse, too many people come in with the idea that it’s not polite to talk about money or to ask about it; so they do not even want to get started. We never have enough of it, it’s tough to figure out where it comes from, and it flows right out the door really quickly. But we know we need to understand it and to handle it – and the pressure can be immense.

For many libraries, our traditional sources of money – tuition, property taxes, grants etc. – may be less certain or actually drying up. Working out some strategies for bringing in other money may be a nice thing; or it may be vital for your continued existence. Listen to our episode from last season on Grant Writing for more ideas there. Just remember that money can come from all kinds of sources; if you do not have enough – it’s time to go hunting for more.

This was a very fast overview of a complicated subject. Money is important, but budgeting is planning and making those plans reality. So as you prepare your budget, look back at our episode from last week talking about planning, and think about the plans you want for your library, and put some numbers to those ideas. Just follow it along, make changes as needed, and bask in your success.

It does not matter how big or small your budget is; working with it to make your library a success is important to help you build your skills as a leader.


Episode 307: Planning



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Introduction

Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at strategies for planning.

How do you know what is going to happen in the future? Do you have a set of magic glasses that let you know what is coming up? Probably not. At least, we don’t have any cool tools like that; and will be jealous of you if you have them. This is the essence of planning: think about what you want to happen then figure out how to make it happen.

Today we will walk through some different strategies for looking into the future and figuring out how to get there. Let’s set some goals, and then talk about different kinds of planning for different situations.

Overview of the Planning Process

When you are thinking about plans and looking toward the future, what do you do first? How do you start? Let’s walk through a process that will be helpful as you do your own planning.

Types of Plans

So now that we have a plan for planning, we are going to work through some of the different types of plans you might use in your organization. Remember the most important thing about planning: not doing it is worst decision. Letting things just happen without trying to figure out where you want to go is not the best way to operate. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – you will, after all; just dive in and start figuring out where you want to go and how to get there.

Strategic Planning

  • Let’s start by looking at the strategic plan. This one is the long-range plan, the one that lets you look years, not weeks or months, into the future. In the past, strategic plans extended five or maybe even ten years ahead; as the pace of society changes it has become more common to consider it as more of a two to five year look into the future.

Tactical Planning

  • Next, let’s talk about Tactical plans. If you were a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, you may remember Captain Picard snapping out orders and requests for suggestions from Worf in Tactical. His answers were always quick and to the point, and did not get hung up in the big picture.
    • You don’t have to always want to shoot bad space guys, it is just a way of thinking about this planning style!

Project Planning

  • Related to Tactical planning is the Project plan. In most libraries, this will be the type of planning carried out by most people and discussed most frequently. Think about your summer reading program: making it happen is a Project plan.

Disaster Planning

  • Disasters are not an “if” situation – they are a “when.” You will have disasters. Disasters are scary, they cost money, they cost a lot of time you could be spending on programming and materials selection, they give you bad publicity – they are just all-around problems. Disaster planning will let you get ready so you can minimize the problems disasters cause.

Conclusion

Remember that a plan is a living document. Things will change, they will develop over time. Sometimes those changes will be great and you will be thrilled that wonderful bonus things happened for your organization. Sometimes, those changes will feel like they involve taking pieces of your heart out and stomping on them. Celebrate the first, learn to shake off the second – you just keep developing the plan until you are done.

Thanks to everyone for joining us this week! And check back in with us next week to discuss our next topic: Budgeting.

Do you need more books in your life? Sure you do! Subscribe to our Books and Beverages book group podcast. Each week we look at a different genre, chat with our guests about their book suggestions, and sip our beverages. It is always good to find a new book!


Episode 306: Decision Making



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Welcome back to Season Three of Linking Our Libraries! We are Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we are here to share information with all types of libraries, archives, and other nonprofits working to build their skills. This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week, we discuss one of the primary skills that define good managers: Decision Making. If people cannot make a decision, or consistently make bad decisions – they are bad managers, no matter what else they do. Let’s look at some ways to make good decisions instead!

Check out our full information page here!

Have you met bad managers? Well, of course you have – everyone has. There may be many reasons they are not good at their jobs; but it is very easy to think picture bad managers who are dithering around decisions, constantly asking for more information or other people’s opinions. Then when a decision is made, it is too often a bad one, or is so often second-guessed that it becomes meaningless.

Instead of falling victim to this terrible fate, we will walk through some processes for making decisions in an effective way. No one single procedure will be right for every situation, but some basics will always be useful to you.

Making decisions is an important part of being a manager; making good decisions is even better. Use the strategies we have walked through here, adapt them to fit your needs and those of your individual situation, and use other tools that work. The process is not as important as actually doing it, so dive in and make decisions – and feel confident doing it!

Join us next week to discuss our next topic: Planning. You will take your decision-making skills and start making good decisions for the future!

Do you need more books in your life? Sure you do! Subscribe to our Books and Beverages book group podcast. Each week we look at a different genre, chat with our guests about their book suggestions, and sip our beverages. It is always good to find a new book!