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Monday, March 31, 2014

Family ties

My brother, David, is a professional photographer. The photo of Kate, above, is proof of that. This year, he and my niece, Kelsey, came for a visit during their spring break. In spite of leaving his  camera and lenses in the car at the airport, we had a week filled with photo shoots, some planned and some impromptu in nature. I watched him use his iPhone as often as my Sony and all of the photos were awesome. 

One evening, he and daughter, Kelsey, set up a makeshift photo studio in our living room, with a chair overturned for background, photo light shields at the windows, and lots of treats to bribe Kate into being angelic for a brief moment. (See amazing photo above).  To set this up, he had Kelsey crouch on the chair, pretending to be the dog! I was startled at first, then I remembered David telling me about photographer, Annie Leibovitz, and how she spent hours setting up a photo BEFORE the subject even arrived.

Not to be left out, both Marilyn and Jack got the royal treats (I mean treatment) as well. 

Doesn't Marilyn look sweet!

The expression on Jack's face is a familiar one. What IS he thinking about? Something is definitely being contemplated, and I don't think it is all about the graham cracker, either.  

AllieCat was a challenging subject as she is often squirmy when held and she doesn't stay in one place for long.  As a surprise, David created a short film of Allie just being her cute self with Ron.

This is just a small sample of the photos taken, and I'd love to show you more. (I'll ask him if he'll  let me to showcase them here). It was amazing to see what he produced and how he looks at things with an eye for the best composition. He mentioned that he's working on a photo book called, Furniture in Public Places, and we had fun identifying couches left on sidewalks, chairs by the side of the road, etc. I'm afraid the whole volume could be produced just in this locale. I told him about my project, Librarians with Cool Shoes, and he seemed intrigued.....

We prowled around  abandoned factories in town, spent time on ice mounds on Lake Erie,  took night shots of our house, and the Library, and worked on an ABC poster featuring spinning wheels and knitting items. Kelsey was right in there, the perfect photo assistant-enthusiastic and adventuresome, too. It was a week I'll always remember.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two Kinds of People

This is where I have worked since September, 1977. I was 23 and eager to start my career as a librarian.  Being in charge of 30 people, most of them in their 60's, required a quick learning curve and I relied on my dad for managerial advice. I also needed to learn how to lead and take orders from a volunteer board of 12 women, also in their 60's. And, last, but in no way least, I needed to learn how to deliver excellent library service to a community of 50,000; inner city, suburban, rural, and even islanders.  Now that I am almost 60 myself, I think Dave Barry's book, Things It Took Me 60 Years to Learn, is a great title!

In the thirty seven years since I first walked through the doors, some things have changed and some things have remained exactly the same. Instead of 20,000 square feet, the Library is now 63,000 square feet. Instead of 30 employees, we have more than 50. Instead of $400,000 in revenue ($1.5 million in today's dollars) we have $4 million-and half of that is from property tax levies instead of income from the State. Instead of 12,000 card holders, we have 28,000 card carrying members. Instead of 77,000 items in the collection, we have over 250,000 items-and some of those are "in the cloud" instead of in the building!

Here is what remains the same. There are still the same two kinds of people that my dad told me about on day one: There are those who look at life from a positive point of view, whose first assumptions are that things are or will be ok, and there are those who are constantly negative, who always distrust authority, and who ultimately can destroy an organization's ethos.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking two of our Board members, our new President, and our newest member of the board,  to a New Trustee Workshop in Columbus.  One speaker, a trial lawyer by profession, and a library board member by avocation, counseled on board membership duties. Turns out these are virtually the same duties for employees, in my opinion.

1. Duty of Care-By this he meant, know the policies, know the core values, work toward consensus, and work toward a atmosphere of collegiality.
2. Duty of Loyalty-Support your organization's goals, be an ambassador, form working friendships, and be positive.

Having served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Safe Harbor Domestic Violence, Sandusky Main Street, P.E.O., Ohio Library Council, and others,  I thought this was good board advice.  I also recognized that it is good advice for workers, too. In fact, I thought it was pretty good advice in general!

The speaker also gave a list of "unwritten rules"that resonated with me as well:
Be collaborative, Be positive, Own the Problem, Communicate, It's Not Personal, Be Efficient, and Enjoy It.  I would have to say these are great words of advice to work by and I plan to tape these to my desk!

I am nearing the end of my career as a public library director, and, fast approaching the age of 60.  I have learned quite a bit about people and there is still much I hope to learn!

I'm casting about for my "encore" career, and now have a "retirement coach" (wouldn't you just know that the baby boomers would demand such a thing)! I'm looking back to see what I've done, and I'm  looking forward to see what I might do next. Whatever is ahead, I'm keeping the rules above in mind and aligning myself with the kind of people that are positive and loving. If you have any words of advice, want to share what you've learned, or, if you have any suggestions for me, bring it on-whether you are 23 or 60 even older than that!