ER&L 2012: Leading From the Top, Bottom, & Middle — Owning Your Library Leadership

Can I get a hell yeah?
mmm-hmm!

Speakers: Bonnie Tijerina, Karen G. Schneider, & Char Booth
Facilitator: Jill Emery

There are many different kinds of leadership. Everyone here has the potential to be a leader. They asked for words that mean leadership for the attendees, and some highlights from the wordle are vision, communication, decisive, innovative, confident, and inspiring.

What is your word for leadership?

CB: Clarity is most important to me in this field and others.

BT: Integrity — it’s hard to go with your true beliefs when they go against other pressures.

KGS: Changed word after hearing other responses. Optimism, because if you don’t believe you’re going to succeed, who else would. Also, faith. Hope to be able to talk about case studies, because she has four from libraryland in mind.

BT: Visionary is interesting. Sometimes you have to be a leader by going in a direction and having faith that it’s going to work out, not by knowing that it will.

What are your reactions to the words we chose, and what stands out?

KGS: Patience and impatience are missing. You need a balance of both to lead.

CB: Impressed by how many words were in reference to other people, like inspiring and motivating.

BT: Most exciting are communication and listening.

CB: Curious if these were generated by example or anti-example?

Why do you do so much work outside of your day jobs?

BT: When I see a problem that needs a solution, I think all it needs is some work done to make it happen, which is how ER&L got started. Attended an ACRL session about ER librarians in 2005 and saw a need for bigger discussion.

CB: What libraries do is critical. We have a calling.

KGS: Most significant work was in the late 90s on internet filtering issues. It was a natural extension of my calling that didn’t end when I walked out the door of my library at the end of the day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am as a librarian and a person.

Where do you think leadership is needed in librarianship today?

KGS: Everywhere. Many people are leaders at levels that are not well recognized. They’re not the shiny bloggers or people getting gold stars for things. People are doing equally important things at the local level.

CB: No matter where you work or what you do, it’s critical to step up and do the things that need to be done. What are you going to do about it?

KGS: And cultivating leadership with the people you work with.

BT: I’ve seen some examples of informal meetups of groups at ER&L that needed to get together. I see leadership happening all over the place.

How do you motivate or inspire others?

CB: Make people not scared of their own enthusiasm. Let it feed what you do.

BT: I leave Char’s presentations feeling inspired, and I try to think about what it is that she does. Think about why we are librarians and what we’re doing? We have a calling. Get at the core of why we are here, and that motivates people. You can get caught up in the spreadsheets and the things that don’t work, but continue to be mindful of why you are here.

KGS: You constantly have to remind people of their own excellence and capabilities, and thank them for their work. Communication is key. It’s not enough to have good ideas if you can’t do that. EJ Josey is one library leader that comes to mind, and in the 1960s was crucial for the desegregation of the state library associations. Marvin Skilkin (unabashed librarian), as a young library director, found out that publishers were doing price fixing. His testimony at hearings lead to the steep discounts that libraries still receive for print publications.

BT: When I was working on ER&L, I was two years out of library school. Told two leaders at Georgia Tech about it, and one was excited and supportive. The second leader thought she was crazy for trying to do it. However, having been motivated by the two different types of leaders, she thinks the more critical person was more of a motivator. Maybe challenging people to think through ideas is a good reality check for a leader.

CB: Does anyone else have issues with the word leadership? There’s an arrogance in there. There’s a chance of the followers not acting because the leader will do it.

BT: Char & Karen were uncomfortable with being invited to speak on a leadership panel. We need to own that. We need to be comfortable as librarians to think of ourselves as leaders when we’re doing leadership.

KGS: You can’t be wishy-washy. You have to claim it?

BT: Does anyone in the audience have questions, or see a need for leaders in the field?

A: What would you call leadership if you didn’t call it leadership?

CB: I have this image of leadership as a paternalistic figurehead. What does it mean to you? Maybe we should just try to model it.

KGS: Leadership from behind and leadership from the front — we have to balance both.

BT: Adjust our definition of leadership.

KGS: I have a public persona that is not really me, and that makes me uncomfortable. The one behind the scenes is the one with the leadership qualities, not necessarily the one everyone sees.

A: Embrace your inner leadership. I see it as starting from the bottom. What is your favorite curse word?

BT: I can’t say that.

CB: Hell & damn.

KGS: I was in the air force — everything I have is not safe for work.

A: One thing I don’t see in all the words is popular.

KGS: Words related to inspire and inspiration lead to the popular thing.

A: Keep focused on the user. Don’t worry about the job title they give you. Don’t worry about faculty/non-faculty.

BT: Motivate by reminding our selves why we’re.

CB: In the day-to-day, people can get dragged down. We need to yank them up.

KGS: Optimism is a discipline.

CB: We learn these behaviors by modeling our influencers. Thanks, Mom.

BT: Leadership is intentional.

A: Be realistic about limits. Librarians have a tendency to take on too much.

BT: I’ve heard that.

KGS: Picking and choosing your battles is important. Aging has taught me my limits. We have to pace ourselves for the long haul. No is not the same as not now.

A: Why aren’t we seeing more of this in our profession? I’m in my 27th year of librarianship. I love the optimism, but I’m so tired. Is it something about our profession? I use the words mentor or supportive colleague more than leader.

A: The Library Society of the World on FriendFeed was having a discussion of why we don’t talk more about our failures.

KGS: I have failed, but I don’t like to.

[Stopped taking notes to get in line to respond that leadership and management should not always be the same thing — we need to restructure our decision making roles in libraries to recognize leadership outside of management roles.]

i like it!

Earlier today, my friend Kaia posted a comment on FriendFeed about wanting to “like” an email she’d received, and it got me thinking.

Due to regular use of FriendFeed, Facebook, and Twitter, I’m getting used to using the “like” or “favorite” options to give my friends a pat on the back without having to say anything witty. There are many instances now when I find myself wishing I could “like” something that doesn’t have the option to do so, particularly when it’s a physical object or person and not some thing on a social-aware site.

So, I set up my first CafePress store, created a design, and now I have “like” buttons and stickers at my disposal, ready to be used whenever they are needed. As I told some friends, I’m thinking of ordering a bunch to hand out at conferences and such. Feel free to do the same.

gathering statistics

For the past couple of weeks, the majority of my work day has been spent on tracking down and massaging usage statistics reports from the publishers of the online products we purchase. I am nearly half-way through the list, and I have a few observations based on this experience:

1. There are more publishers not following the COUNTER code of practice than those who are. Publishers in traditionally library-dominated (and in particular, academic library-dominated) markets are more likely to provide COUNTER-compliant statistics, but that is not a guarantee.

2. Some publishers provide usage statistics, and even COUNTER-compliant usage statistics, but only for the past twelve months or some other short period of time. This would be acceptable only if a library had been saving the reports locally. Otherwise, a twelve month period is not long enough to use the data to make informed decisions.

3. We are not trying to use these statistics to find out which resources to cancel. On the contrary, if I can find data that shows an increase in use over time, then my boss can use it to justify our annual budget request and maybe even ask for more money.

Update: It seems that the conversation regarding my observations is happening over on FriendFeed. Please feel free to join in there or leave your thoughts here.

na-blog-wri-mo?

Recently, I went digging through the archives of this blog to locate something I knew had to be there. I didn’t find it, and I suspect that has to do with things getting lost in the conversion from MovableType to WordPress. *sigh*

Anyway, I ended up reading some of the old link round-up posts I made back in the infancy of this blog, and it got me thinking about how much my approach has changed over time. For link blogging, I’ve started using a mix of Delicious bookmarks and Google Reader shared items, and for general “look at this crazy stuff” kinds of things, I use Twitter, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

What’s left for the blog? Well, short reflective pieces like this, for one. And, of course, there’s the conference session summaries and the “what I wrote for Blogcritics” round-ups. Other than that, I am finding that I have things that I want to write about, but I don’t have the time or energy to form them into anything worthy of public consumption.

Honestly, though, the main reason is that I’ve become rather lazy about the care and feeding of this blog. So, for the rest of this month, I’m going to try to write something here at least a few times each week.

day in the life of an electronic resources librarian

I am participating in the DILOLibrarian project today. This account is by no means comprehensive or reflective of every aspect of my workday, since each one is different depending on the volume of things demanding my immediate attention. However, it may be of interest to my non-ER librarian friends, as well as newly minted librarians and those who are considering this profession.

  • 8:45-9:00am Arrived at work, a bit late because my carpool driver and I miscommunicated about today’s plans. Turned on computer, got a cup of coffee, got a breakfast bar, and started this post.
  • 9:00-9:30am Read and responded to new mail that has accumulated since Thursday afternoon. Sorted messages that require more than a brief response into Information and To-Do piles.
  • 9:30-9:35am Generated a list of print + online and online-only science titles from our Ebsco subscriptions and gave it to the electronic resources associate, per his request. The serials associate and ILL associate both need this info, particularly since we converted as much as possible to e-only this year.
  • 9:35-10:15am Sorted through the various to-do lists (both email and Outlook Tasks reminders, as well as a few scraps of notes on paper) and worked on them from oldest to newest. One item was to call back a publisher, but their phone system has been screwed up since last Thursday, which I discovered when I tried again. Also, they gave me the New Jersey office number, not the (correct) New York office number. *headdesk*
  • 10:15-10:25am To-do email sorted and cleared from the pile. Reviewed email tagged “waiting for a response” and followed up on those. These are mainly notes from publishers with information regarding electronic resource subscriptions that had been requested by subject liaisons. I hang on to the messages until a decision has been made.
  • 10:25-11:00am Took a break from email to work on two of last week’s TechLearning tasks, which I completed just before Andy sent out the email announcing this week’s tasks. Filed those items away in my Outlook Tasks with due dates set for Friday.
  • 11:00-11:25am Processed new email that had arrived over the past hour. Took a short break away from the desk. Sent suggested training dates/times to a vendor for a new product we have purchased.
  • 11:25-11:30am Checked NASIG executive board email and responded to messages.
  • 11:30-11:40am Reviewed and assessed email in the “information” category. Cleared out some items that are no longer needed.
  • 11:40am-12:10pm Read through some of the issues on the stack of routed professional journals. I haven’t had any desk time lately, just on-call, so I’ve slipped behind on those.
  • 12:10-1:30pm Lunch. Ran errands that took longer than expected.
  • 1:30-1:50pm Processed new email (see a theme here?), answered an IM question from a colleague, and checked on my pals on Twitter & FriendFeed.
  • 1:50-3:00pm Finished up professional reading backlog.
  • 3:00-4:50pm Worked on checking a spreadsheet of electronic resource holdings against what is listed in Serials Solutions. Added/deleted titles, collections, and holdings as needed. Also, paused frequently to respond to email messages as they came in.
  • 4:50-5:15pm Browsed through the last couple of hours of tweets. Processed additional email.
  • 5:15-5:20 Checked NASIG executive board email again.
  • 5:20pm Decided I had done enough for today, so I typed this and… publish.