February 2002, Volume 34, Number 2
Around the State
Value in participating
Can library trustees know what their library is all about if they do not observe services in action and talk to customers?
Without making the director or staff paranoid, there is real value in participating in the activities of the library to better understand why the director leads in certain ways, and why staff conducts business in certain ways.
Have you attended one of the storytime programs to gain insight on the library’s role in reading? Have you attended any of the community programs sponsored by the library to see why people attend and what they gain? Have you used interlibrary loan services to experience the speed (or delays) in obtaining resources from other libraries? Have you used the electronic resources to realize the breadth of information available through this medium? Have you visited a facility served by the outreach staff?
If you can answer yes to many of these questions, then you are developing an understanding of your library, and you have a better insight into the library’s relationship to education, cooperation and professionalism. You are taking the time to understand why staff can be passionate about services and the funding needed for them.
If you answer no to most of these questions, then you have to ask yourself how you can be a leader and advocate for the library.
Libraries are complex institutions because so many possible topics are covered including human resources, construction, intellectual freedom, customer service and life-long learning. You are probably making decisions based on old perspectives.
As you put up a new calendar for 2002, make a notation that each month you will become a better trustee by observing and communicating with customers, using services, reading about library issues, and even communicating with trustees in other communities.
The greater the breadth of knowledge you have based on experience, the better you will be in helping the director develop policies, advocating for the library with local officials, and understanding the importance of being a library trustee.
in the activities of the library
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