Saturday, October 15, 2016

FCPLEA President's Statement to Library Board of Trustees, October 12, 2016

Like you, staff have been trying to understand the Community Engagement Findings and Recommendations.  I decided to look most closely at the surprises, because they are where I learn. 
Here are some of the surprises for me:

·        Lack of need and lack of time were the strongest arguments for non-use:  However much we want to succeed at our traditional role, we must respond to that reality.  We need to fill needs not satisfied by other sources and deliver services in a time-saving way.   Reinstatement of virtual reference services and options for out-of-branch holds pickup and return are needed.

·        While it is often a truism that everyone wants more of everything, when our respondents had specific requests it was for both more self-service options and more personal interactions. “High tech and high touch” is clearly not dead.

·        It is comforting -- when an adverse policy or budget constraints or training deficits threaten our performance -- to blame others around us, either above or below in the org chart.  But, leadership skills must be robust and diffused throughout the organization.  We all need to be more skilled and empowered at the point of service.  We need to own the outcomes we create.

·        We do not speak with one voice.  We haven’t found that voice and so we contradict and undermine our message.  It is critical to find that one voice and commit to a unified message.  We can’t do that without hearing the needs, fears, and hopes that we and our patrons share -- and then creating a strategic service model.

·        IF our near-term reality is a budget much the same as the current one, how do we shift its application to respond most effectively to the changes this community engagement report requires?  All of us need to look for dramatic (not trivial) efficiencies in non-customer facing processes to optimize customer-facing impact.  We cannot evade that challenge.

Just yesterday, FCPLEA Delegates from each branch and department had the chance for a long, wide-ranging conversation with Jessica Hudson at Kings Park Library. 

·        We learned more about the various systems, branches, and service experiences Jessica has had.

·        We shared concerns and hopes for maximizing our technology and collection impacts.

·        We exchanged dreams for more children’s space and programming, options for customizing service exceptions, and warnings about impending cold and snow (which Jessica cannot yet imagine). 

At Staff Day I attended a session facilitated by a moderator from the Harwood Institute.  He walked us through one brief exercise for building community understanding of local needs.  Deep conversations that help us discover our common concerns and aspirations is freeing and inspiring.  More of that experience is what we hope for from our Strategic Planning process.

Deb Smith-Cohen
President, Fairfax County Public Library Employees Association


No comments:

Post a Comment