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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!