What Are We About?
Column Editor: Mary E. (Tinker) Massey (Retired Librarian) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Each New Year, I like to reassess who I am, where I am now, and where I am going in life. We can usually embellish who we are, although I fight the urge to do so. The where question, involves more of an evaluation of what personal expectations I have met in my life rather than a GPS locator test. I usually find that I have met some of my expectations, but there are many more to complete. This is the point at which I re-evaluate my real needs and goals, whether those goals are obtainable in my present circumstances, and whether I need to make adjustments to attain reasonable and positive goals. Expectations are like sorting your incoming tasks. You need to make a pile of immediate doable tasks and complete them readily. More difficult tasks form a second pile, and the third pile becomes the ever-growing stack of intricate “hair-pulling” knee-knockers that continue to plague our existence. Thought you hid those tasks in smaller piles last year? Did you try to disguise them and ignore them? They’re back! One of the ever-present problems that keep reappearing is our relationships with other staff members. What can we do to find solutions to those awkward situations where disagreements occur or our expectations for their behavior are damaged?
I have tried from the instant of hiring to instill in my workers a feeling of confidence in their attempts to complete work. I ask for their eyes and ears to find situations that are not working and offer some choices for change. I give them a chance to buy into the team effort to make things better and to search for new ways to make each person’s needs met more efficiently and quickly. I give positive meaning to finding answers for everyone. Our student workers assist us when they return from shelving to tell us about struggles others have faced in the stacks with finding material. They offer some suggestions, and in this process, we find some resolutions that enhance the search for needed resources. The new ideas are created in actuality, and everyone profits in the improvement. This has happened more than once from all levels of our staff, and we get excited about the results. I have come to realize that the enhanced results come from the respect we each show for our co-workers’ varying abilities in the workplace. As a supervisor, I can hardly be expected to come up with all the answers, so I empower my co-workers to help the whole team effort with their many talents. I do not have the artistic ability to create eye-pleasing displays, but I have staff who can and willingly produce those creative arts, which enhance understanding in the library’s efforts to teach others. Sometimes a narrow focus is needed to solve a problem, but other times we need more general perspectives. While I can vocalize a “big picture” understanding, my co-workers may be able to offer me various ways to achieve that goal. Why not utilize everyone’s talents? Have a meeting of the minds. Ask for help on a one-to-one basis. Be able to hear and absorb and discuss all of those views and ideas to find lasting resolutions so that the patrons are helped by your efforts. Remember, consistent respect for your staff can bring a much-needed trust and loyalty, which can be utilized in producing better relationships and effectual workflow for the public we serve. I think this is always something to think about.
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.