Spring Cleaning

Yesterday, I came home to a sparkling clean house, courtesy of the in-laws. My house was clean before they came, my mother raised me that way, but they got all the cracks and crevices I tend to ignore. You know the cracks and crevices I am talking about, things like fan blades, dust boards, and those pesky spots that are hard to get rid of on your sink.

Libraries are like that sometimes. We clean house. Build new buildings. Add things to our collections. Vacuum. Dust every year or so. Straighten up the public desk areas and staff areas when some one “important” is on their way. But we forget about the small things that we like to ignore. We ignore them because cleaning them is a pain in the arse. Like fan blades, we do not want to have to drag out the ladder to get the perspective we need to see all the dust.

It is hard sometimes to look critically at that old policy that everyone subscribes to but which hurts the users or sometimes it is the staff. Maybe it is a person, not a policy, that is no longer performing their job duties, but coasting along on past successes. As hard as the process may be, I strongly believe that any organization that wishes to not just survive, but to thrive, must re-examine operations every few years. By “few” I mean no more than 5 years. We can always improve the things we do and we should strive to do so.

At MPOW, we are going through three simultaneous processes that will change the way we do things, hopefully for the better. We are going through an extended LibQUAL process, restructuring half of the organization, and wading through a strategic directions process. I hope that we are not simply participating in an elaborate smoke screen. I want there to be some fundamental changes that come out of our processes. We should come out leaner, meaner, and serving our customers better.

What do I want in particular? To take over! Well, sort of anyway. I want technology to have a fluid role in the library’s life. I want staff to be well trained in technology (maybe by me) and be comfortable with trying new things. I want us to be responsive to change in a good way and see it as opportunities, not as the death knell.

–Jane, for whom the bell tolls, but not today