Showing posts from June, 2011

Real Talk on Library Management Difficulties

At an ALA 2011 emerging trends discussion group on training and retaining middle managers, an HR official noted that if a manager is doing their job and properly training and documenting, then the HR office helps in the disciplinary process, and there is no reason a manager should have any trouble.

At an ALA 2011 pre-conference on the difficult parts of management, the refusal by some library administrations and HR offices to help managers properly handle disciplinary action with documented under-performing staff was a widely acknowledged reality among participants.

I will admit that I have worked in libraries with fantastic administrations and great HR offices, weak administrations and weak HR offices, and various other combinations. Given that experience, I have to say that the experience of poor management practices at the upper levels of an organization can make the life of a middle manager hell, and it does us as a profession no good to pretend otherwise.

The rest of this post is…

Reflections on ALA 2011

I miss New Orleans already, as I prepare myself for a lunch that doesn't involve oysters, alligator sausage, fried things of any kind, daquiris, or my far-flung library colleagues. I am trying to suppress my disappointment. Before everything gets lost in the haze of back-to-work, I wanted to get down some lasting impressions:

1. New Orleans, I Heart You

I don't know what I was expecting of New Orleans, but it is a wonderful, walkable, fantastic little city with great character and outstanding food. I could barely believe the tales of craziness (I never did make it over to Bourbon Street), until the evening I was walking back to my hotel and passed a number of folks in Santa hats. And they were immediately followed by a guy fully duded up as Santa - big hat, faux beard, heavy coat and gloves...and no pants, hollering "HO HO HO!" as he stumbled down the sidewalk. And apparently that's just an everyday occurrence, because no one else even raised an eyebrow. In any cas…

Library Managers as Triathletes of the Mind? Meaghen's Wisdom for Librarians

Meaghen Ann Harris, award-winning athlete
I'm putting the finishing touches on my slides for ALA, where I'll be presenting the LLAMA preconference "The Tough Stuff: Leadership, Change, & Performance Management for Library Managers" with the incredibly wise Jenica Rogers. This past weekend I was trying to find a theme to run through my portion of the talk on managing change. In a fit of pique and laziness, I polled Facebook, and my sister Meaghen noted that triathlons were a pretty good metaphor. She noted that triathletes have to swim to T1 (transition #1), tear off their wet suits, put on bike shoes and helmet, and cycle to T2 (transition #2), where they "drop off bike, tear off helmet, throw on some kicks and the FINISH. Manage the change, Colleen. Manage the change."My little sister is wise. (And a kickass athlete to boot, regularly taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in her age group, while I cheer her on from under my covers and half a country away.) B…

The Dissertation Problem and ProQuest's "Legitimacy" Lie

I located a great dissertation that I'll have to cite in my literature review for my own dissertation-in-the-making. While finding it thrilled me, it also completely crapped on my parade. The dissertation is not interlibrary-loanable, since the degree-granting institution has the only paper copy. And to get a pdf copy of the work from ProQuest? Will cost me $37.00.
I am now looking at this in light of comments my advisor, who is teaching one of my doctoral classes this summer, made. He said to a group of us who were talking about the dissertation in a discussion board that the dissertation is essentially a dead end research exercise - nobody reads them when you're through with writing the damned thing, it just provides a platform for your future research agenda.
Well, HARRUMPH, doc.
*I* read them. The useful-to-me ones, anyway. That is, if I can get access to them. The problem - as it always is - is access. How on earth is a dissertation supposed to be cited by others when access…

Come Work at the Library We Love!

Want to come work with a fantastic team of librarian that includes @griffey, @vacairns, @librarianwilk, @caitlinshanley? Well, you're in luck!
At our own University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Lupton Library, we're hiring in an Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian and a Digital Integration Librarian. We've got the postings and a comparison of the requirements and qualifications for each position available here. Have a talented buddy you want to work with? Apply as a team! We'll look forward to seeing you in the pool -- remember, we start reviewing applications July 5th!

"You Shouldn't Call Here", Or, How To Lose A Customer

Just had another experience that reminded me of the importance of putting ourselves in our patron's shoes and making life as easy as possible, even if your university or library policies are a bit convoluted.
I called a medical specialist's office to see why I still did not have an appointment, five weeks after my doctor faxed my records and called to make the appointment. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hi! I'm just calling to follow up and see what I can do to expedite getting an appointment. I know you likely don't have anything open for months, I just want to get on your calendar. My doctor's office faxed my information and called five weeks ago, but I haven't heard anything back."
Receptionist: "Your doc office has to call and set it up."
Me: "They did. You said you were swamped and would get back to them. Your office hasn't."
Receptionist: "No, we always make the appointment when they call."
Me: "…

Anniversaries Galore: 10, 5, and 1 year

In the past month, I’ve had a birthday, a ten-year anniversary of my college graduation, a one-year anniversary of being in my latest position, and next month will be the five-year anniversary of getting my MLS.

In the ten years since graduating college, I’ve held 10 jobs, which included:

Manager of Dunkin’ Donuts
Research Assistant at Emory University
Staff at Coldstone Creamery
Manager of a corporate technology sales team at CompUSA<
Overnight supervisor of the University of Kentucky’s Access Services
Second shift Reference and Instruction staff at the University of Kentucky
Graduate Admissions Officer at SUNY StonyBrook’s Graduate School
Reference & Instruction Librarian at UTC
Assistant Head of Access & Delivery Services at the NCSU Libraries
Head of Access Services at UTC

Those last five positions were post-MLS. In the five years since I earned my MLS, I’ve worked in Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, and am now back in Tennessee. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to t…