#NASIG2020: Vision Speaker Janetta Waterhouse

Leadership is a subset of management. Focus on developing skills in communication, active listening, time management, productivity, team building, DEI, performance management, and process management/workflow analysis.

“Managers to things right. Leaders do the right things.”

Managers need to do all of their job, which includes performance management. It’s not about being nice or not. If your staff are struggling, it’s something you need to address. Understand the difference between performance problems and disciplinary issues. Don’t avoid facing issues with less competent staff by redistributing their work to competent staff.

A part of performance management is change management. It’s not just when technology or institutional change happens that you need to manage that change. Waterhouse has found Kotter’s eight step process for leading change helpful.

Understand what kind of change needs to happen, and at what level. Some things are common/comfortable to us because of the nature of our work in libraries. Some require more transformation.

Some people are more risk adverse and some are more tolerant. A common reason why people resist change is that the expertise they have built is being set aside. They will have to learn new skills and are likely to make mistakes they may have not made for a long time because of that previous expertise. If your organization has a culture of perfection or risk-avoidance, make sure folks know it’s okay to make mistakes.

When someone moves from a technical area to a management position, they don’t have to know all of the answers. They need to make sure the answer is in the room, and that’s getting the right people together with the right resources.

Leadership competencies include emotional intelligence – it’s the one thing that’s going to help you personally and professionally above all else.

If you have someone complaining about something frequently, re-focus. If it’s not in their or your circles of concern, talk it out once. Beyond that, it’s not something that we can actually do something about, so it’s not helpful to continue to complain.

Kenneth Shaw outlines nine components of emotional competence in his book The Intentional Leader. Waterhouse notes that the willingness to self-evaluate is one of the most important components.

Goleman notes that the more styles a leader has mastered, the better. This allows you to be able to switch between styles and recognize which style works best in each situation.

Social intelligence is linked to team performance. Teams work better are teams that gel socially. Try this social intelligence test.

<had to restart computer because keyboard suddenly stopped responding and I missed most of the project management component>

Conflict is a natural part of life and can be managed in a healthy way. The most emotional person should not always get their way.

The common perception of conflict is that you have either avoidance or confrontation. The ideal process of working with conflict is negotiation. Instead of one person being frustrated with coworkers and complaining to others, or bottling it up to blow up later, negotiation requires communication. Seek to understand where people are coming from. If you’re not going to listen to them, they’re not going to listen to you.

Getting buy-in is important, but sometimes you just need to take action. Understand the emotion / cognition / behavior connection, and consider working backwards from there.

How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be the reason why improvements didn’t happen until you left, or do you want to be the one who made work life better for everyone?

corona virus diaries: week 5

Five weeks ago yesterday, I shifted to primarily working from home. Spotting a coworker loading up monitors and other computer equipment from his office, I realized I could do the same. The prospect of working off of a laptop for weeks on end felt less onerous if it included the dock, dual monitors, full-size keyboard, and mouse. This was quickly set up on my dining table, and for the first time in 13 years, I have an office with a window.

I lasted one day sitting in one of the IKEA folding chairs that normally lives at my dining table. I lasted another two weeks using the office chair that normally lives at my home desk. Then on my brief weekly trip to campus, I snagged the chair from my office. Ahh… so much better. The ship date for the Steelcase office chair I splurged on (a much needed purchase long before now) is indefinite, so this will be my setup for the time being.

My work has settled down some since we got past the flurry of assisting faculty to transition their courses to remote instruction, and supplying access to ebooks and other resources for students who left their materials in their dorm rooms when they departed campus for Spring Break. For the first few weeks, it was all I could do to keep up with things, as email action items flew in as fast (or sometimes faster) than I could clear them out.

I was surprised-not-surprised to learn that my job really doesn’t require me to be in the building at all, for the most part. I think there will be things coming up throughout the year that would be easier to do if I were there, and some physical materials that will eventually need attention from me, but for now, I can quite easily work remotely. I kind of knew this before, but not having a good setup at home made the prospect less appealing in the past.

One of the things I worried about with working from home is not having a clear line between work and home. However, I have found that sticking to a schedule has kept that line fairly clear. I start work at 8, I finish at 4:30, and sometime around noon I take a lunch break. There are some exceptions, of course, if I’m trying to wrap something up and it’s nearing the end of the day. There’s always more that can be done, but there’s also always tomorrow and the next day.

Part of me wonders if I could continue this working from home thing even if we are able to open the building and return to our offices again? Part of me could get quite used to having a kitchen with snacks so close and a toilet all to myself. Part of me revels in not having to wear work clothes, and a commute that’s just a walk down the stairs.

Part of me worries that I will get too withdrawn and forget how to interact with coworkers in person. Part of me misses the casual interactions with colleagues that feels awkward over a digital connection. Part of me would really rather just go get lunch with friends at the dining hall today instead of thinking up yet another meal at home.

I’m not afraid of change (except when I am)

As a serials librarian, change is in the nature of my work. Titles change, publishers change, URLs change — change is the norm. I stay flexible and try to move light on my metaphorical feet. Some days I float like a butterfly. Some days I fall flat on my face.

I’ve been thinking about — and simultaneously feeling excited and dreading — the big change that is coming to my work in the next year. We’re on the path to migrate from Voyager/Summon to Alma/Primo. It’s going to mean a huge shift in how I do my work, though what I do, essentially, will remain the same.

I’m looking forward to the new (and sometimes improved) tools I’ll be using to do my work, but I’m not looking forward to the process of learning how to use them. And that’s just one of the unknowns that is making me afraid of this change, even as I’m ready to run towards it.

I don’t know what I don’t know. And it’s such a huge undertaking that I’m feeling overwhelmed by that unknown. What I really want right now is for someone to hand me a list of every thing I need to do to prepare Acquisitions and Electronic Resources data for the migration, but no one can do that for me. I have to take the resources the vendor has provided, as well as any information I can gather from other libraries who have migrated from similar products, and make that list for myself.

It’s daunting. It’s scary. What if I mess up?

photo by Mike McKay

it’s gettin’ hot in herre

for all the olds like me who may not have been paying close attention to pop music in the turn of the century or watch Ellen

But I’m in my office in the library, so I’m not gonna take my clothes off. Also, this happens every year, so I’ve kind of come to expect it. Summer rolls around and our aging chiller just can’t take it and breaks. This year they seem to be taking it more seriously, but it might be too little too late for the thing. We’ll see.

Meantime, it’s busted again, and the original projection was that it would be out for the rest of the week, in part due to the holiday interrupting the repair schedule. Thankfully, that has been ramped up, and the word is that temperatures in the building should be returning to office normal by tomorrow evening. Those of us who can were already making plans to work elsewhere when the UL decided to close the building during the repairs, which was a sensible move.

However, until I chanced on a conversation with a colleague in ILL, it hadn’t occurred to me quite the level of privilege my job function provides me when it comes to doing my work outside of my assigned office space. My colleague felt her only options were to come to work in a building with internal temperatures in the upper 80s (30+ C) or take a precious vacation day she hadn’t planned to take. She didn’t have any of her day-to-day work to take home because all of it is location-based.

My other colleagues in access services were in similar binds. However, this isn’t the first time their supervisor has faced this issue before, and she quickly organized some online training module assignments for them to do remotely tomorrow while the building is closed. Smart! I will tuck that one away for when this (inevitably) happens again.

FY19 conferences, an update

I was very excited to finally have approval to attend the Timberline Acquisitions Institute this year, but turns out it’s the same weekend as the spring concert for my chorus. I thought about all the rehearsals and the music and the really cool things we’re doing for this concert, and I decided Timberline can wait another year.

As an alternative, I’m looking at the possibility of attending my first ELUNA conference. Since we’re planning to move to Alma, maybe, in the next year or two, it might be useful to look more deeply at what we can be doing to prepare for the transition, and what my department workflows might look like afterward.

FY19 conferences

NASIG 2011
NASIG spelled out in foam blocks at the City Museum in St. Louis

Charleston Conference is in a couple weeks? I think? I can tell because all the vendors are including inquiries about meeting with me there in all of their correspondence, or making a point to contact me specifically about that. It’s times like this that I think I should set up an auto-responder:

“No, I won’t be attending that conference this year. However, I do have plans to attend NASIG and ____.”

This year, that blank is (hopefully!) going to be filled by the Timberline Acquisitions Institute. I keep checking the website regularly just so I don’t miss the registration notice.

I did a thing yesterday

I spoke at the VIVA User Group meeting on some of the workflow and tools I use to gather information about our faculty’s scholarly output for an annual reception co-hosted by the Libraries and the Provost’s office. If you were there and want the slides/details of what I said, they’re now up on Slideshare with speaker’s notes. If you weren’t there and are curious, I hope you find it interesting/useful.

apathy in our fourth (fifth?) decade of the serials crisis

The 2018 periodicals price survey has been published, and it’s not going to tell you anything you didn’t know already if you have been paying any attention to the scholarly publishing industry. It is a gratifying read only in that it conveys the mix of pessimism, despair, and apathy that I feel at this point when we talk about the unsustainable pricing models for subscription resources in libraries. Or when I am using this data to support our annual budget request that I know will not be enough even if they grant it.

Sometimes I want to burn it all to the ground. Cancel everything with a price increase above CPI-W. But I can’t, because the only people it will hurt are students (faculty can and do get copies of anything they want from colleagues elsewhere). And the publishers know this. And they gleefully take more money from us.

a values conundrum

Scales
photo by Charles Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

‘Tis the season when I spend a lot of time gathering and consolidating usage reports for the previous calendar year (though next year not as many if my SUSHI experiment goes well). Today, as I was checking and organizing some of the reports I had retrieved last week, I noticed a journal that had very little use in the 2017 YOP (or 2016, for that matter), so I decided to look into it a bit more.

The title has a one year embargo and then the articles are open access. Our usage is very low (average 3.6 downloads per year) and most of it, according to the JR5 and JR1 GOA for confirmation, is coming from the open access portion, not the closed access we pay for.

The values conundrum I have is multifaceted. This is a small society publisher, and we have only the one title from them. They are making the content open access after one year, and I don’t think they are making authors pay for this, though I could be wrong. These are market choices I want to support. And yet….

How do I demonstrate fiscal responsibility when we are paying ~$300/download? Has the research and teaching shifted such that this title is no longer needed and that’s why usage is so low? Is this such a seminal title we would keep it regardless of whether it’s being used?

Collection development decisions are not easy when there are conflicting values.

what’s the big deal?

house of cards
photo by Erin Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I’ve been thinking about Big Deals again lately, particularly as there are more reports of institutions breaking them (and then later having to pick them up again) because the costs are unsustainable. It’s usually just the money that is the issue. No one has a problem with buying huge journal (and now book) bundles in general because they tend to be used heavily and reduce friction in the research process. No, it’s usually about the cost increases, which happen annually, generally at higher rates than library collections budgets increase. That’s not new.

The reality of breaking a Big Deal is not pleasant, and often does not result in cost savings without a severe loss of access to scholarly research. I’m  not at a research institution, and yet, every time I have run the numbers, our Big Deals still cost less than individual subscriptions to the titles that get used more than the ILL threshold, and even if I bump it up to, say, 20 downloads a year, we’re still better off paying for the bundle than list price for individual titles. I can only imagine this is even more true at R1 schools, though their costs are likely exponentially higher than ours and may be bearing a larger burden per FTE.

That gets at one factor of the Big Deal that is not good — the lack of transparency or equity in pricing. One publisher’s Big Deal pricing is based on your title list prior to the Big Deal, which can result in vastly different costs for different institutions for essentially the same content. Another publisher many years ago changed their pricing structure, and in more polite terms told my consortia at the time we were not paying enough (i.e. we had negotiated too good of a contract), and we would see hefty annual increases until we reached whatever amount they felt we should be paying. This is what happens in a monopoly, and scholarly publishing is a monopoly in practice if not in legal terms.

We need a different model (and Open Access as it is practiced now is not going to save us). I don’t know what it is, but we need to figure that out soon, because I am seeing the impending crash of some Big Deals, and the fallout is not going to be pretty.