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Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rural Library Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan
Andrea Berstler

The well written strategic plan performs several important, functional purposes:
  • Causes the organization's stakeholders to think about, discuss and put down on paper their goals for the library's future
  • Sets measurable, defined and time specific goals
  • Allows the board, director, staff, volunteers and customers to know where the organization is going and keeps the director, staff and the board accountable
  • Defines what is "success" for that library
The Plan brings the mission and vision statements down to earth. The strategic plan gives you a set of priorities -- what we can do -- what we cannot do -- you cannot be everything to everyone.

You need to define what success looks like. How do we know we are a successful library if we have  not defined success?
Five-year plans are too long -- if you make no changes, and if the plan simply stays in a file in a cabinet, then it is dead and pretty useless after a few years.

A strategic plan is organic, it is changeable, evaluated and evolved.
How does a Strategic Plan differ from a 5-Year Plan or a Long-Range Plan?
Sets goals for the coming weeks and months
An organic document
Defines the strategy of the library

Steps to a Strategic Plan
  1. Brainstorm and Dream: Put it all on the table. There are no wrong answers. This will give you insight into where each person sees the library going
  2. Organize: Take each idea and assign it to a "department" that could include Buildings & Facilities, Staff, Collection, Resources, Outreach, Training, Technology, Programming/Instruction. At this time you are not removing anything from the list. Just organizing.
  3. Prioritize: This is where you place the items in order of which are going to be the most important in each category.
  4. Plan: Create goals and objectives and describe how you are going to get there and when you want to arrive. This is where you define the changes you need to make.
  5. Commit: Everyone involved in the process of implementing this plan must buy in to the plan. They should have had input into the plan and now is the time for them to take ownership of the plan and invest personally into the plan's success
  6. Implement: Don't waste your time or energy by creating a plan that you cannot or will not implement. Many organizations create a plan just to have a plan. "A plan on the shelf is just shelf paper." -- Berstler
Do not allow the plan to micromanage your library, instead use it as a compass.

The plan should:
  • point you in the right direction
  • allow you to make course corrections
  • guide you to decisions
  • promote the overall goals

[Andrea Berstler. The]

The Entrepreneural Librarian

The Entrepreneural Librarian
Presented by Andrea Berstler

Over the past decades there was much talk about "running a library like a business".  It was the new trend. But I never bought into that idea. Business was all about bottom line. Libraries are not. We develop a plan of service for our community, and then budget to meet that plan.

Andrea Berstler shared information that in a sense dovetails the "business model" library, but deals more with the energy of the individual leader or Director.

An entrepreneurial librarian will use creativity, strategic planning with a targeted market and innovation to position their library to take advantage of opportunities to meet the needs of their communities. The goal is to position the library so that the community cannot succeed without the library. They succeed with you. The library must be relevant and have a seat at the table.

Do not "whine" in the community. Project a positive image. People want to back a "success".

What makes a librarian "entrepreneurial"?
  • Plan to Succeed: Has a set of measurable, prioritized goals for their library with an ideal timeline for reaching those goals.
  • Pro-Active: Anticipates issues. Institutes policies, procedures and programs to  meet the needs, solve the problems and assimilate necessary changes.
  • Hires the Person: Hires the person, not the skills. Job ad verbiage: "The successful candidate likes working with people, has a strong desire for good customer service and is able to be taught."
  • Manages, Coaches and Leads: Models leadership by regular, open communication and by allowing the team to work as a unit within the framework of the strategic plan.
  • Builds a Curriculum: Develops seminars and workshops based on the needs of their community.
  • Targeted Marketing: Has considered who they wish to reach with marketing.
  • Cultivates Loyalties: Develops loyal customers who not only use, but believe in the work of the library and who are willing to volunteer, advocate and financially support the library.
  • Prioritize Upgrades: Encourages stakeholders to attend training and makes training a priority by attending sessions themselves. WebJunction should be a training tool for staff.
  • Community-Based, Organic: Able to adjust and adapt to unexpected changes with minimum delay or resistance. Flexible and Responsive.
Library staff are educators. Do not allow the staff to demean what you do. You teach people how to use computers, you teach people how to find the information and how to interpret and analyze the information.

[Continued in the Blog Post, Writting a Strategic Plan]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saks 5th Avenue Service on a Dollar General Budget

Saks 5th Avenue Service on a Dollar General Budget
Sharon Michie

Saks can be used as an acronym for "Step Out", "Appearance", "Know", "Sell". Following these four key words and phrases will guide you into excellence customer service in all areas.

Instead of thinking of your library as a "book store" layout, consider the layout and the business sense of a clothing boutique. Less clutter, product stands out, small store "knows" clients.


S:  Step out:
  • Get out into the community and get to know your patrons and potential patrons
  • Be visible in the community
  • Be a speaker at service organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary
A:  Appearance:

  • Make sure your clothing is appropriate. Before you leave for work, stand in front of a mirror, bend over, does anything show? Reach up, area you flashing skin between a skirt and shirt? Make sure you are not flashing anyone.
  • Wear a funky or unusual piece of jewelry. This might be a conversation starter.
  • We need to make our customers feel comfortable, the more comfortable, the more they will feel like opening up to us with their informational needs.
  • Walk into the front door. How does your library look?
  • Customers, when entering a store, ususally go to the right. What is to the right when your patrons enter the library? Can you set up a book display or something interesting?
  • Higher end retail stores do not "clutter" and their product stands out.
  • We need to show our product
  • NO TAPE -- Watch signs! Every sign means less interaction with the public.
  • Look from the patron's perspective. Is it cluttered?
  • The circ desk should be clean. Cubbies under the desk can hold "stuff" and patrons will never see the clutter.
  • Consider using a color theme, red white blue, etc.
  • Keep it simple.
  • If there is an empty book display easel, either put in another book, or remove the easel. No empty book holders.
  • Saks does not clutter their displays.
  • Think outside the book -- shoes in a glass display -- with one sign -- "Gourmet"
  • Book display ideas:
    • Rediscover Danielle Steel
    • Patterson
    • Nora, is she new to you?
    • Display "red" books or other color
    • Display books with water color art on cover
Shelve books like shoes in a retail store. One word above the display, such as "Patterson"
 Quote for a display: "You don't have to have a receipt to make a return at the library."

  • Your Products
    • Books
    • Resources
    • Services Programs
  • Your Customer
    • Small talk
    • Observe
    • Remember
    • Contact regulars when they do not come in as usual. Make sure they are all right.
  • Your Staff
    • Take time to get to know the staff
    • Recognize they have lives
    • Cross train a staff in a rural library to do all jobs.
Make sure your staff knows upcoming programs and events. Create a "bullet point" list up upcoming events and programs and distribute to every telephone, every department, every staff. Put them at check out computers so staff can remind the patrons of an upcoming event. Is a grandparent in the library with a child? Remind them that they can sign the child up for summer reading club.

Step away from the desk and ask how the patron is doing. We are the only people that some of them see in a day, the only friendly face.

Call your staff at the branches and tell them you appreciate them. Commend them for the work they are doing.

  • Read the flaps of the new books and think of your patrons who might enjoy them
  • Upsell -- if you like this author, have you tried this one?
  • Incentives to kids for reading. And adults, too.
  • Get to know your community leaders and get an endoresement from them. Once your leaders know what the library has to offer, even though they may not be users, they can still be supporters.
  • Build relationships with your local newspaper. Front page photo "above the fold" is priceless. Get to  know the photographer.
Consider a bulletin board or standing easel with handprints and the names of children who now have library cards. Or, give patrons a heart in February, as them to write their name and what they love about the library and then post their hearts on the stairwell, or wall, or other prominent place.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Engaging Volunteers

Engaging Volunteers

Jacqulyn Owens, Library Director
Memphis (Texas) Public Library

Tools, techniques and models for successful implementation of volunteer engagement

John F. Kennedy 1961
… Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

You must have a volunteer policy! Well written and well defined. Have job descriptions for volunteer jobs. Check online for samples of volunteer policies.

·         Low Impact Exercise – Led by volunteers in partnership with Texas AgriLife
·         Extension services will provide programs
·         Draw from the community – special skills or talents
·         Volunteer to create a community garden and help maintain the garden
·         Volunteer to move books
·         Volunteers helping get books ready for a book sale
·         Four-H youth help with summer reading program
·         Graphic artist to create brochures
·         Web content
·         Story tellers
·         Lead workshops in their area of interest
·         Help with computer classes or tutorials
·         Homework helpers
·         Trained volunteers with literacy programs
·         Income tax assistance
·         Genealogy volunteers
·         Assist with Medicare Part B
·         Friends bookshop
·         Scan photographs
·         Design Facebook Page!
Different programs, different times of day will result in a full-parking lot. We have turned our library into a true community center

How do you find volunteers?
·         Students need public service hours for graduation
·         Baby boomers are reaching retirement age. They have special skills they want to share. They want to do something and contribute something that is special – not just shelving books.
·         Corporations require employees to give time to a volunteer organization. Post a volunteer job on this site. They also have a blog with great information (21 Ways Volunteers Can Help with Your Web Site)
Post volunteer jobs on your library’s website or on a sign at the library.

Through engaging volunteers, you develop a strong group of library supporters, who will advocate it, promote it in the community, and help recruit both financial and human resources. – Carla Lehn

Why do people volunteer?
·         To give back to community
·         To meet people
·         Want to keep current with skills and learn more skills
·         They were asked.

Post volunteer positions and short job descriptions.

Library clean-up days: volunteer opportunities

Job Description
·         Title
·         Reason for the job
·         Qualifications
·         Supervisor the volunteer is responsible to
·         Responsibilities of the job
·         Training that will be provided
·         Benefits of volunteering
·         Time commitment
·         Length of commitment
·         Contact person about the volunteer opportunity
·         Date Posted

Screen Volunteers
·         Interviews
·         Get to know the volunteer
·         Get to know the volunteers expectation of the job
·         Go over the job description, skills needed ability to work independently or with others, physical requirements (bending, lifting, and climbing)
·         Write a script to keep the interview on track and to make sure you ask the questions you want to ask.
·         Ask questions on: background, skills, time & schedule), etc.
·         Check with governing body policy on volunteers
·         Are background checks required?
·         Check references
·         All information is confidential
·         Give the volunteer time to process the requirements and discuss it with family before they commit. Do not force someone into doing a job that they do not want to do… they feel guilty because they wanted to volunteer, but do not want to take on the job that is described to them.
·         Research what you cannot ask in an interview in your state.

New Volunteers!
·         Introduce Volunteers to staff members
·         Give a tour
·         Emergency exits
·         Staff Room
·         Information packet
·         Volunteer mission statement
·         Confidentiality
·         Organizational chart
·         Key contacts
·         Key telephone numbers
·         Emergency procedures
·         Map of the library
·         Where to park
·         Schedules
·         Assignments
·         Time sheets
·         Where to store personal items
·         Use of the library telephone or copiers for personal use
·         Any other information needed

Training is necessary for success!
Managing volunteers takes discipline.
The Federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 grants immunity from personal liabilities that happen in the scope of their job.

·         Thank you note
·         Verbal thank you
·         Post pictures on websites or bulletins boards
·         Formal ceremony
·         Certificates
·         Small gifts
·         Stars with volunteers names in entryway

·         Develop a folder
·         Application
·         Emergency contacts
·         Interview notes
·         Record of hours volunteered

Managing library volunteers

Preston Driggers and Eileen dumas

WebJunction:  Webinar Innovative use of skilled volunteers
October 19 2011 1:00

Remember three things:
1.    Volunteers expand the reach of your library and build support within the community
2.    Volunteer Match
3.    We have barely scratch the surface  look for more information

Implement a volunteer program!
What do you do if someone wants to volunteer and you know you don’t want them?
·         Must have a board-approved volunteer policy that states that there is not automatically position for every volunteer
·         Libraries do not have to accept volunteers that have to fulfill community service requirements – talk to your county courts
Screen, screen, screen Volunteers, especially when working with children (registered sex offenders)

Library Signage

Library Signage: What message are we sending our patrons?

Gail Santy: Central Kansas Library System
Librarians make profound differences in people’s lives.
She is a librarian’s cheerleader!
Merely adequate signage identifies the resources in your library and tells people what the can and cannot do. Great signage communicates your competence, understanding and care for the people using your library. --- Chris Ripple
What constitutes a good sign? How do you send the right message to your patrons?  Library Signage Workshop (free tool) like PowerPoint, but more provides more freedom.

·         Use Microsoft Word or Publisher and a color printer
·         Sharp contrast color difference
·         ADA compliance
·         Paper and foam board
·         Rubber cement
·         Order ceiling hanglers from Amazon – Grid clip – hardest part is to make sure the strings are the same length
·         Or, use binder clips and fish line
·         Use small foam board scraps for signs on shelves
·         Laminate the paper and then rubber cement them to the foam board – also easier to peel off.
·  – online tool – pop in a word and it will generate words that go in different direction… i.e. in 300s, list words of subjects in that dewey number
·         Use Styrofoam – Krylon spray paint is for plastic and Styrofoam – Letters are cut out of Styrofoam
·         Use corrugated tin on walls of teen room – use chicken wire to hang signs
·         Use photos of people in your community on a sign
·         Use photos or pictures because some folks may be illiterate
Do not punish everyone for the sins of a few

·         Is this a prison library?
·         No Frisbees
·         No rearranging furniture
·         No using books as weapons
·         Shabby signs send a message that we don’t care about our library. Signs are our silent conversations with our patrons.
·         Update signs with new signs, not pasted over updates
·         No tape
·         No rainbow colors in letters
·         Use a brand – recognizable as library
·         You can have too many signs saying the same thing
·         Replace label maker signs that are peeling
·         ADA – letter visibility, color, placement: Sharp contrast in colors, white lettering on colored background. In some cultures color has different meanings – Placement is also important. Need to be able to read the sign from a certain distance. Look at the website for the ADA for specifics
·         Wayfinding – use arrows
·         Non-readers need wayfinding clues, too. Dinosaur stuffed animals point out dinosaur books. Not just for children.
·         Use pictures in adult section as well – do not get too cutesey – use same type of pictures (similar illustrations available from Microsoft office clip art
·         Even temporary signs should have continuity. Someone needs to be assigned to keep the signs updated.
·         Be sure to update and remove outdated or expired
·         If you cannot afford acrylic sign holders, print out signs and fold them to table or shelf tents
·         Buy old ratty cookie sheets from yard sales, spray paint them, screw to wall and use magnetic signs and messages
·         Use scrapbook paper as background for YA and other signs – polka dots
·         Have another library critique your signs, and you can do theirs
·         In a small library, you should be consistent with signage and color
·         Do not be afraid to have three foot letters that say “Children’s” or “Teens”
Emotionally intelligent signs
·         Instead of Be Quiet, say “Readers Working”
·         Instead of no cell phones, say text please.
·         Try not to use the NO word. Try to reword for emotional effect

See website for more information. The Central Kansas Library System