Category Archives: Services

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 310: Communication



Ghozt Tramp - Business Communication Duplicat model

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 303: Hiring and Staffing



Now Hiring

(Note: Lady Grey was in-house while we recorded this episode; so the parts that sound particularly great may have been influenced by her calming presence!)

Check out our full information here!

Welcome to another episode of Linking Our Libraries! This week our Guest Host is Carla Lydon, director of the East Central Library System here in Minnesota.

If you like libraries, archives, or history centers; or if you work in a nonprofit; or if you just want to learn more about management and leadership, you are in the right place!

We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and our job is to help libraries! We are a multitype library system, with member libraries of all sorts: public, schools, academics, special libraries, archives, and history centers. Yes – we are pretty lucky!

This season we are looking at a variety of topics related to management and leadership. Our focus is on libraries, but our topics are relevant to all types of nonprofits working to improve their leadership skills.

Do you want to talk with us about a topic? Want us to set up some training for you? Check out our website under “Can We Help You?” and let’s talk!

First we are going to look at a somewhat idealized hiring process. Every library varies in how they are able to hire: some have no input and a new person is just plopped into the library, some have complete freedom to structure their hiring as they want. Hopefully, the steps we look at today will happen, at some level!

One of the most important things a manager can do for an organization is to hire well. You need good staff to have a well-functioning organization, and a bad hire – one that brings in an unskilled, unmotivated person, or person who spends time complaining, giving bad customer service, or just doing poor work – can throw the whole place into chaos. The cost of a bad hire can be very high, and this problem can be very difficult to fix. A good hire will do good work, and add to the positive organizational environment you want to build!

Hiring and staffing are extremely important challenges any library needs to face; and making good decisions, bringing in good people, and getting them deployed to best serve the mission of the library are crucial! It is tough to do, but if you have questions you can always check in with us here at cmle.org!

Tune in next Thursday for our next episode of Linking Our Libraries, where we keep going with our discussion of management and leadership topics.

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 215 Library Impact and ROI



Water drop impact on a water-surface - (5)(Tune in for a bonus episode Dec 7 on handling stress!)

Check our full information page for all our material!

This is our last episode of Season Two! It has been great talking about all these topics this season, and communicating with you. Thanks so much for downloading and listening – it means a lot to us. We are already starting to work on Season Three, which will start early in 2018. And in the meantime, you can go to our website, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, our social media, our online book groups. You can listen to all of our archive of podcast episodes from Seasons One and Two on our website (or your favorite app!). So we are not leaving you; we just have some different communication strategies to connect with you!

This week we are talking about the impact libraries have on their community, and ways to evaluate your Return on Investment (or ROI).

You know libraries are great. We know libraries are great. But, do your patrons know all about it? How about your Board? Your funders?

It is not enough to be able to say, “we are so neat!” and expect people to give you money and support. Instead, you need to be able to show, with specific data, how neat you are. Fortunately, this is amazingly easy to do! Any type of library and information science organization, including libraries of all types, archives, museums, and more, will all make big returns on the investments made in us. We just have to be able to show it, and then to loudly share that information with everyone else!


Episode 213: Reference



1930's - ca. - Alma Custead, Librarian, and Staff

Check out our full information page for all the material we discuss here, and some bonus links! Check out our Books & Beverages Podcast book group for different genre discussions every week!

Reference work is what most people think of when they think about a library. Take a moment to picture it in your heads: do you see a smiling person behind the desk, maybe typing into the computer, maybe handing you a book?

That is certainly not wrong, and in addition to this type of service it also involves a lot of other work. Reference is increasingly moving away from sitting behind a desk and waiting for people to come to you with their lovely, well-thought out questions. Instead it now involves setting up a lot of material people can use on their own schedules, spending time training people in using online databases and other resources, and being present in many other locations.

Whether your work in Reference is helping advanced researchers finding material to help them win the next Nobel Prize, or if it involves the more mundane questions of “my teacher says I need to find an author born on my birthday” – it all matters to patrons. And of course, the most common Reference question has never changed: Where is the bathroom? As with so much we talk about on this podcast, there is a system to help you answer questions the best way possible!


Episode 212: Open Access



Open Access PLoSThis is Open Access week, and we are celebrating with a podcast! (Check out our full information page here!)

This is a topic with a lot of passion involved, and lots of big feelings on all sides of the discussion. Today we are just going to walk through some of the basics of how OA works and what it means; and talk with Susan Schleper, from Centra Care Health hospital library in St. Cloud, about one aspect of using it in a library setting in her institutional repository.

As so often happens on this podcast, we are just introducing you to a big topic – and we want you to get comfortable with the basics and then be able to move on to a larger look that makes works for your organization and professional interests.

So, as always, we have a lot of material on the podcast page to help you keep building up your knowledge. And of course, we are always available to come to your library to help you, to talk with you, and to help you set up policies and procedures and training for yourself, your colleagues, and your organization!

Have you heard our book group podcast: Books and Beverages Podcast? Subscribe today for all kinds of genres, lots of beverages, and a parade of great guests!


Episode 210 Customer Service



Customer service photo

 

Contents of our information page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • The Basics
  • A Few Stories from the Front Lines!
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion

This week we are talking customer service in your library: the good, the bad! Patrons, customers, or whatever you call those people who use your services, are the heart of it all – the reason our jobs exist. At our very foundation, we only exist in our jobs to serve these people. Some of them will absolutely be the best part of your job; they will make you happy to come to work, they will fill you with that positive glow of happiness in doing a good job, and will in general be a delight! There may even be homemade snacks involved!

Other patrons will make you question your job, your reason for being in a library, and your very will to get out of bed in the mornings! When, not if, that happens to you, try to focus on taking a deep breath and remembering that this too shall pass. Go back and listen to our episode #206 on Conflict Management, and look through our material on handling stress in the workplace.

But don’t let the few lousy patrons be too big a part of your job! Actively keep your perspective focused on the great things you are doing to build community, and to enjoy the customer service aspects of your job! We are not going to overlook the tough parts of this skill, but we do not want to dwell on it and overshadow the good stuff too. So sit back, relax, and let’s talk about some good customer service procedures you can implement in your organization to make things flow better. And we will share a few stores from the real-life side of working with patrons all day!

Next Week: we talk about technology training in your library, with Guest Host Angie Kaltoff!

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!
Click here to get started!

 


Episode 208: Evaluation



Performance-Evaluation-Process-z

Today’s podcast is kind of a Part Two to last week’s podcast on Strategic Planning. In any kind of planning process, you want to know how things are going – and that’s evaluation!

Does your library do regular evaluation? If you are like many, or most, libraries – probably not. It seems like a lot of work to get started, it seems hard, and it seems scary: what if people say negative things, or you find out you are doing things wrong or badly?

We get it! First: take a nice deep breath, and let it out slowly. Taking a relaxed approach to evaluation can make it all easier. Evaluation can also give you some solid results you can show to funders to demonstrate your Return on Investment (or ROI) – which is always a good thing, whether or not it is required in your library. We will be talking about Library Impact and ROI in more detail in Episode 215 coming up soon – so subscribe to this podcast now to be sure you don’t miss it!

Remember that you are never alone! CMLE is always here to help you – whether you have 100 people in your library, or if you are the only person and kind of scared to get started. Supporting you is our whole mission, so never hesitate to call on us.

Contents on our full information page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Basics of Evaluation
  • Specific Evaluation Examples
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion
  • Links with Samples

Want to listen to an episode?

  • You can download an app, subscribe to “Linking Our Libraries” and all episodes will appear on your phone – it’s so easy!
    • Apps we like include Pocket Casts, iTunes, and Stitcher.
    • Download any of these, search for “Linking Our Libraries” and hit Subscribe.
    • If it is not readily available, just enter this RSS feed: http://libraries.blubrry.com/feed/podcast/.
  • Or, you can stream an episode right now on your computer by going to our streaming page, by clicking here.

Whatever tool you use, we hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for listening, and sharing ideas on libraries!


Episode 207 Strategic Planning



Wikimedia Strategic planning 09

This week we are talking about Strategic Planning.

Did everyone panic a little bit there? No need!

Strategic Planning is one of those things that sounds scary and hard and like it will take you a huge amount of time. But really, it’s just thinking about the future and what you want to do in your library. Generally strategic plans will be about three to five years. After that point, it becomes tougher to know what is going to be happening in your library and in the world around you. The idea is that it is a long term plan. Shorter time periods are tactical plans, or project plans.

(We are working on a new Strategic Plan here at CMLE; so if you are in our geographic region expect that we will be asking you for your ideas as we create and modify plans to help serve our community!)

Today we are going to do a quick overview of the steps involved in Strategic Planning. Your planning process may be more complex, or may be more compressed – you should work on it the way that makes sense for your library and for your community. There are a lot of different ways to create a good plan; but these steps will get you there!

Contents on our full information page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Guest Host Kathy Parker
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion
  • Sample Plans
  • 30 Sample Vision Statements
  • 50 Sample Mission Statements

 

Want to listen to an episode?

  • You can download an app, subscribe to “Linking Our Libraries” and all episodes will appear on your phone – it’s so easy!
    • Apps we like include Pocket Casts, iTunes, and Stitcher.
    • Download any of these, search for “Linking Our Libraries” and hit Subscribe.
    • If it is not readily available, just enter this RSS feed: http://libraries.blubrry.com/feed/podcast/.
  • Or, you can stream an episode right now on your computer by going to our streaming page, by clicking here.

Whatever tool you use, we hope you enjoy it! Thanks for listening, and sharing ideas on libraries!

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!
Click here to get started!