Sunday, July 17, 2011

This Is What Happens When I Don't Blog....Rant, Rant, Rant

Ugh, bad librarian, posts for months.  What's happened is I started blogging over at Closed Stacks, added 15 hrs. a week to my workload, am finishing my MLS, and am on the last stage of becoming a VOYA reviewer.

So I feel guilty...but only kind of.

What has been going on?  Lots, but only in certain places.  My work in a children's dept. would be typical of any children's librarian, however...I'm not just a children's librarian.  I'm also the tech person for the department and I'm working with other departments (mainly our reference department) on various projects that involve our library and library advocacy.  The one project that was of my own dreaming and scheming came from a tiny spark of an idea:  advertising the library not using those cheesy "READ" posters the ALA charges way too much for, but rather our own staff and community members.  Been done before?  Of course.  In the way we're doing it?  Who knows?  Our community has historical landmarks (one that was involved in a Hollywood movie) and I partnered with a friend and very smart lady to help me out.

What seemed like a small project that would be fun and community-centered has gained its own life.  Our communications department coordinator liked the idea SO much that we are now looking to use it for promotional materials beyond just simple "READ" posters.  I put forth the idea of having some kind of art/photography show at the local gallery and having a contest for local artists, encouraging the arts in the community.  Lordy knows we need some kind of culture around here...I'm hoping we can see it through.  The people who are helping my friend and I out are not only managers, but are fully supportive.

The problem isn't the people in the middle, at least not the ones we deal with (I'm not even going to get started on that other group.)  The problem are the ones that sit *just above*.  And it's my rant about leadership and management in our field not going hand-in-hand.  They don't, they are mutually exclusive for most people.  Good leaders can't always manage the day to day activities of a department or branch, and good managers can rarely lead staff.  I have yet to work under a hybrid person like this.  What blows my mind is why these managers don't want to encourage staff to achieve more.  Perfect example?  Our new personnel evals are on a rating scale, which is typical in a lot of jobs.  On a 1 to 5 scale, 5 being the best, management expects most employees to get 3s across the board on most tasks and they're happy with that. 

I'm sorry, no.  That's not how I play.  In my mind (and the minds of others I work with), a 3 is a "C".  Barely passing, mediocre, average.  I DON'T DO AVERAGE.  Those of us who give a damn about our jobs and don't just simply stop when the clock hits quitting time see a 3 as a bad deal.  And the other kicker is that they've made getting a 5 so unattainable that they don't expect anyone to get a 5, and are barely expecting 4s.

Apparently, librarians who work hard, go above and beyond, and actually are involved don't exist in their personnel evaluations.  Yeah, I banged my head against the wall for a few solid minutes after I heard all of this.

This is very simple, and I'll say it just once.  A library, doesn't matter where or what type, that does not want the best out of each of its employees (support staff, professionals, front line, back office, or administration), is not being lead, it is being managed, and poorly at that.  A real library system that has real leaders who can manage and be visionaries?  They do exist and those libraries are the ones everyone wants to work at.  I know I do.