Posts tagged under: Strategy

Community engagement: Redefining the library as town square

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Libraries are evolving, leaning outside of our walls, connecting with our communities in new and powerful ways. Defining our “why” requires understanding how to shift our focus from books to people. Our purpose is to support people and their quality of life. While there may be many definitions, community engagement isn’t just about awareness, marketing, and sending staff out into the community. Community is at the center of everything. At Anythink, the public library system for Adams County, Colorado, it is at the heart of everything we do.

Like many libraries, our recent strategic planning research included a purposeful listening tour. We found that our community sees the library as its center, its connector. They asked for the library to become even more focused on creating community. As a result, we have adopted the concept of library as town square.

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Are you managing the emotional side of change?

Tyler Ferguson

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When you’re leading any kind of change, maneuvering to get an ideal outcome can be tricky. I’m often asked by leaders in the throes of change management efforts, “What’s the one thing that can’t be missed?” The one element that could deter all the work to build awareness, acceptance, and action. My response is pretty much always the same: Never underestimate the emotional side of change.

Did I just get all warm and fuzzy on you? Yes, I did. And it’s important, especially because this aspect of change is often overlooked. The reality is that all change begins and ends with human beings—and humans are driven by emotions.

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Sometimes, to change anything … you have to change everything

Greta Southard

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Change management is never easy, that’s why it’s often tackled in bite-size chunks. To be successful, it has to be intentional and collaborative. And for a public library, defining change can’t just depend on the director’s vision. It has to belong to the entire organization and be driven by the needs of the community.

We recently wrapped up the challenging—but energizing—task of developing a detailed strategic plan. This was a first step in changing the way we do business. We’ll still do many of the same things we’ve always done, but our perspective has shifted to place the customer firmly in the center of everything we do.

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Get closer to “customer first” in seven days

Cathy King

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Over the past year or so, I’ve started to see new ‘customer experience’ job titles (like Chief Customer Experience Officer and Deputy Director of Customer Experience) pop up in libraries that have been present in the consumer space for some time. Makes sense. Having someone focus on how people use your products and services across the entire range of your organization and throughout their life with you is such an important part of doing business today.

And while developing a truly user-centric strategy may sound like a big, strategic move, you can start to plan small changes that inspire broader transformation in just a week.

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Make the first move: three ways to initiate relationship-building conversations

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Over the past few years, I’ve seen discussions of customer service shift from measurements of individual interactions to programs that track and analyze all of a customer’s activities. That is, rather than focusing on what makes for a good sale or a good complaint follow-up, the trend is toward examining the entire “customer experience.” I’ve seen dozens of programs and hundreds of articles that aim to help us capture every tweet, post, like, click, thumbs-up, visit, and phone call in an attempt to “know the whole picture” for a customer.

That’s a good step forward. No one interaction happens in a vacuum. But I think it also misses the mark when it comes to library services. What we do is still incredibly hands-on and, for many library users, very personal and creates an experience that’s more than the sum of our analytics.

A recent conversation with Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Chief Executive Officer Gina Millsap brought that message home to me. For her library, they’ve moved beyond customer service and customer experience into a relationship-focused strategy.

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Customer Service Week: three opportunities to build, maintain, or break trust

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Trust is emotional, and is built transactionally

Customer Service Week is being celebrated around the world this week, and the theme is “Building Trust.” And while trust is certainly an emotional concept, it isn’t completely immune to training, practice, review, and reward.

How do you measure and improve in a nebulous area like trust? I’d like to go through three opportunities that are typical “trust points” for most service-oriented organizations. In each case, I’ll suggest how this moment can either build, maintain, or break down trust between you and the people you serve.

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Three ways to engage your faculty using digital collections

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Our members’ libraries each have unique, valuable resources. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering many of these rich collections firsthand as part of my work in digital collection management.

One of my favorite collections is the Denison University Herbarium, which contains images of more than 600 plant specimens. A poignant note in the collection description states that the original Herbarium collection was destroyed by fire in 1905 but was restored with donations from professors and naturalists soon after. The digital collection is curated by Andrew C. McCall, Assistant Professor of Biology, and preserves access to these plants for future study and makes them accessible beyond the four walls of the library. It is a great example of engaging faculty using digital collections, preserving physical collections with digitization and bringing hidden collections into view.

My passion is to grow the number and usage of unique digital collections like the Herbarium. Each collection has a “back story” and usually an engaged curator. As each new, unique collection comes online, a piece of our shared knowledge becomes visible to a new generation of learners and scholars.

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Getting a million dollar digital collection grant in six easy steps

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Many of the libraries I’ve worked with on local digitization efforts start with great ideas about a big collection they could develop…if only they had enough money. Maybe there’s a local trove of unique documents that are historically important. Or thousands of photos recovered from a private collection after a disaster. No matter the source, imaginations run high and big, lofty goals are set. A hopeful dollar figure is calculated and the quest for a grant begins…only to end in disappointment.

Why? The goal is good, the materials are fantastic, the benefit to the community is apparent. In my experience, the search for the “Million Dollar Grant” often fails because it doesn’t follow these six important steps:

  • Step 1: Secure a $1,000 grant.
  • Step 2: Secure a $5,000 grant.
  • Step 3: Secure a $10,000 grant…

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Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

Saskia Leferink

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Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.

“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.

As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

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Are you too comfortable in your culture?

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Culture matters

A lot has been written about organizational culture, but there is little consensus on what it actually is and how to change it. Two things we know for sure: organizational culture exists and it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior.

Why should we think about culture? Because your culture is how your organization does things. And how you do things is critical to your performance and success.

According to the Katzenbach Center, 96% of employees say some change to their organizational culture is needed, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul. So even if you’re comfortable, you probably should be thinking about how your organization’s culture impacts both goals and the quality-of-life for your employees.

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