Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dissention in the ranks

I've been reading folks' library blogs and they are interesting, to say the least. The names of the people who post are very creative and often bordering on risque. The topics that are covered range from informative and instructional to ranting and raving about lack of training, preparation or nasty coworkers/patrons. I must say, I would be curious to see how my staff might decribe their working conditions in our library. True, we are small and we often have to take in stride our quirks, crises and plain bad days. But I often ask in evaluations what is needed to be able to do their job - more specialized training, learn something new to enhance their professional development, going to school to to earn a degree, etc. I also ask what I could do to make their job easier or better - better directions, more communication, more flexibility, clearer instructions, leave them alone, jump in the lake, etc. Regardless, I try to allow the opportunity for input, even if it is during an evaluation.

I was reading the Annoyed Librarian blog on courses that people wished they had offered in library school. I found some of the "descriptions" to be hilarious and often on the mark. I found myself saying "yeah, that would have been a good one to have learned about" or "man, the poster really has had some bad experiences, work environments, etc." The entry obviously struck a chord - there were about 66 replies as of this morning. I certainly didn't have all the answers or the experience when I was hired; I learned many aspects on the job. I learned how to respond to people both in writing and verbally in a way that didn't raise hackles or cause ill will. I learned that I didn't know everything and sometimes the old way is just not better.

I hope that all our new library professionals keep that in mind - even years of being in the trenches does not always make you the authority just as coming straight out of grad school does not give you the right to criticize mindlessly without first learning how it works in the first place.

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