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…

What Libraries Can (Still) Do James Gleick

Deutsches Historiches Museum/Arne Psille/Art Resource Heinrich Lukas Arnold: The Reading Room, circa 1840

Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analog to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as that bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments. Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object. After all, when you want the text of Magna Carta, you don’t track down the original. Same with books? “Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journalconference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.”

So is the library, storehouse and lender of books, as anachronistic as the record store, the telephone booth, and the Playboy centerfold? Perversely, the most popular service at some libraries has become free Internet access. People wait in line for terminals that will let them play solitaire and Minecraft, and librarians provide coffee. Other patrons stay in their cars outside just to use the Wi-Fi. No one can be happy with a situation that reduces the library to a Starbucks wannabe.

Perhaps worst of all: the “bookless library” is now a thing. You can look it up in Wikipedia.

Read more:

Librarians as Agents of Transformation by R. David Lankes

0 Comment

“Librarians as Agents of Transformation” Informatie aan Zee 2015. Oostende, Belgium.

Abstract: What can be learned from the U.S. librarians’ response to the economic crisis, and the importance of hope and optimism in librarianship.



Major Points: Major points

Burn the Libraries and Free the Librarians from R. David Lankes

Burn the Libraries and Free the Librarians from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

3 Reasons You Should Think Like A ‘Business-Of-One’ | CAREEREALISM

3 Reasons You Should Think Like A ‘Business-Of-One’ | CAREEREALISM.

3 Reasons Why You Should Think Like A ‘Business-Of-One’