Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy
In the the great baseball movie Bull Durham, Ron Shelton’s narration reads, “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it's also a job”. Among institutions, libraries and baseball share a central position in my cosmetology of spiritual importance, but they also share the reality embodied in the quote — even the most inspiring and beautiful library must function on some level like a business. Like a business, a well-run library should be shaped by a carefully constructed vision or set of goals. As businesses which hope to succeed must be knowledgeable about their customer base, libraries must be aware of the nature and needs of their users. A competent librarian must constantly compare the library’s services and achievements to the ideals set forth in the mission statement of the institution, and must plan with, advocate for, and manage library resources to provide optimal service to the library’s clientele.
Competent library managers must plan ahead, based not only on current realities but on conceptions of the future which are both logical and visionary. A librarian in a larger library will often make decisions based on an institutional strategic plan; competency would entail detailed knowledge of this plan and a clear idea of how the plan’s abstractions are to be achieved in the workday world. Strategic plans are periodically revised and updated—whenever possible a competent librarian would participate effectively in this process. Libraries of all sizes must allocate resources and update collections and technology effectively to ensure the best possible use of limited funding. As evidence of my competence in planning I include an Opening Day Collection plan for a high school’s reference collection. The reference collection was a group project for Dr. Liu’s Libr 210 class. In this collaboration I found and wrote the entries for 4 of the 16 books listed (Knowles, O’Daly, Shirmer, and World Book). With classmate Rita Morin I co-wrote the ‘Collection Development and Rationale’ section. I was also the editor/proofreader for the final product.
A librarian—manager also displays competence by staffing, scheduling, and organizing for maximum utilization of resources, providing the highest possible level of service to users. When these ‘resources’ are human beings, a higher level of management is also required: employees look to competent managers for motivation, evaluation, and leadership. A competent librarian must be an observant psychologist, directing the development of the workplace to encourage a positive and productive environment. A competent librarian needs strong written and oral skills to communicate and exemplify a shared vision, mission, and set of values. Respect for all people is implicit in our core professional values; a competent librarian demonstrates this value in dealings with coworkers and the public. My Libr 285 Research class, taught by Mary Somerville, focused on action research in support of institutional or workplace change. In the attached paper I considered the principles of action research as applied to the major redesign of the Cal Poly library. I am proud of this paper because it shows not only my knowledge of management principles, but growth in my understanding of administrative challenges and requirements. From my Management class, Libr 204, I am including a project composed on a wiki by a class group, in which we collected and annotated resources for managers planning for technological change. Our group collaborated using a wiki and coordinated our contributions closely, but within the paper I wrote the Introduction and Methods sections, and gathered and annotated the resources under “Visions of the Future”. Recently as part of a school reform movement I heard a colleague speak wistfully of a past principal who provided current articles on proposed changes; I realized that such an assemblage of resources is often useful to coworkers. In a different vein, I also present another Libr 204 paper on a famously incompetent manager. The instructor, Dr. Sawyer, encouraged an individual and less formal approach in this assignment, and I both enjoyed the opportunity to analyze a well-known character and learned from applying academic principles to a pop culture monster.
Perhaps in a golden past a librarian could live happily in her temple of books, placidly waiting to assist any who might wander in; if it were ever so, those times are gone. In these days of scarce resources, when the need for expenditure on physical libraries is frequently questioned, even the most exalted library must position itself aggressively for survival in the real world. As evidence of my competence in marketing/advocacy, I am attaching a business plan and powerpoint created for Deb Wallace’s Libr 240 class. With two classmates I created a proposal to integrate library services into required Humanities seminars at St. Mary’s College Moraga. Dr. Wallace felt that our plan needed to be more specific; we revised several times. Though I now see ways in which this plan could be focused and clarified, it does represent a significant amount of learning for me about running a library as a business. I wrote these sections of the proposal: ‘ Executive Summary’, ‘ Purpose’, ‘ Needs’, ‘Resources’, ‘Target Audience’, ‘ ‘Implementation’, and ‘Measuring Success’. I also edited the other sections heavily. Through work on this assignment and in this class I came to see the opportunities available in this period of challenging transitions for libraries. Rather than looking at marketing and advocacy as a battle for scarce resources, I now see these as a way to forge new connections, and use the power of collaboration to showcase the resources and contributions of the library.