Sunday, January 18, 2009

What libraries should do better -- part 4

Concerning Personnel

Hire and keep the right people to get the work done. In order to hire the right people, one needs to not only know the tasks to be done but also how to recognize the skills and potentials in the candidates. Many advertisements ask for candidates with experience. One time I saw an ad for an IBM System 400 hardware system that requested 5 years experience. The problem with the request was that the system was only one month old. Employers want the new employees to hit the ground running, but forget that even with the best education, there is much to learn. I taught a class in cataloging. During the semester the students cataloged fewer than 10 items. Most catalogers do more than 10 items during a half day of work. There is no way a student can get the wide variety of materials to make them experts before that first job. Most libraries want catalogers who know more the rules and their application. Library of Congress takes the view that they can teach cataloging more easily than teaching subject knowledge.

The skills of analysis, synthesis, communications, creativity, and thinking out of the box are important for catalogers and most professionals. These skills are difficult to measure in a one hour interview. Managers need to look for the potential in employees.

Excellence -- Strive to create an atmosphere of excellence. Everyone on staff from the youngest student assistant to the president, CEO and 30 year veterans need to look for ways to be excellent at what they do. Mediocrity has no place in the organization.

Training -- To continuously strive for excellence, the staff must get training to better use current equipment and tools and acquaint them updated with emerging systems, ideas and technologies.

Value -- Make employees feel valuable and encourage positive change. Reward and recognize staff contributions. Rewards are not just monetary. Say "thank you" and mean it as often as possible.

Smile -- Wear a smile and look professional at all times. I tell everyone wearing a smile and dressing professionally are part of the job. Just as a person on stage presents an image, the staff must present the proper image to everyone they meet.

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