Home » Academic libraries » Three Questions to Ask and Answer Every Day | Leading from the Library

Three Questions to Ask and Answer Every Day | Leading from the Library

Steven BellFinding fulfillment in the workplace is no easy task. Leaders and library workers should routinely ask three questions to create the library environment they and their colleagues will want to come to every day.

Libraries should be great places to work. We provide our communities with essential services that help them maximize their potential as learners, workers, parents, citizens, and whatever else they desire. The library is the place where great discoveries and life-changing revelations can happen every day. Most libraries offer respectable working conditions. So why do library workers and their leaders, often pointing fingers at each other, ask why their workplace is so toxic? Our libraries should be amazing places to work. It demoralizes staff and leaders alike when there is discontent and dysfunction. Whether it’s bullying, annoying coworkers, or feeling ignored or unappreciated, library workers can become cynical, disillusioned, and angry about their work environment. Like a nasty virus, the toxicity spreads and envelops the organization. Leaders at every level in the library must make it their responsibility to create the climate that supports a workplace where we all want to be.


Library workers at all levels in the organization know it’s a challenge to create the right environment where everyone is working as one in achieving a clearly articulated vision. It’s up to library leaders to share that vision in a compelling way. What can the rest of us do to contribute to the culture and working environment that enables us to create the library where we all want to work? I’m going to answer that question by sharing three questions that every library worker should ask of themselves each day:

  • Am I thinking like an owner?
  • What did I do to make our director or dean look good?
  • How did I make a difference for our community?

Here is why I think all three can help us unite as a staff to develop a truly engaging library work culture.  Read more…

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