New Supervisor Session…

Soaring As The New Supervisor On The Block
Alice B. Ruleman

Alice gave some excellent tips for new supervisors, including keeping track of what you can control (knowing your management style, caring – and learning about – your employees, expressing expectations, learning policies & procedures), what the challenges you will face are (amount of training you get, feeling intimidated, not having enough time, feeling alone, being overwhelmed and stressed out) and things that you need to know (how things are done and what the formal and informal routines are). She gave some tips on self-training; study your job description, learn routine activities, let employees help you, look for training opportunities, learn less routine items were all mentioned. She also gave us tips and tricks to help us find our feet as new supervisors:
* Be yourself
* You set the tone for the day
* Start slow
* Be respectful
* Be visible
* Emphasize teamwork
* Be fair and consistent
* Be a good communicator
* Provide training
* Make your own decisions
* Admit when you are wrong
* It’s a process!
We then went from tips & tricks into a discussion of leadership styles. She had us take a Leadership Styles Quiz (pdf) and then we discussed what each leadership style meant. She finished by saying that the best supervisor combines all 3 leadership styles, depending on the situation and the employees.


A brief break for a table talk

Table Talk
Internet access & MORENet
This was pretty much worth the cost of admission, right here. I got an uninterrupted 15 minutes with Randy from MORENet to discuss *exactly* what our library needs to do to comply with MORENet’s requirements for offering Internet access wirelessly. I also got a great tip about how to do it properly (and freely) and will be putting that into place very, very soon! Yippee!!!


Meetings without the meeting part

Meeting Without Meeting In Person
Tom Peters

Tom came to MLA to discuss the different kinds of meetings we hold in library-land, the number of meeting we hold and how to make them easier, cheaper and better. He identified 5 types of meetings:
* Face-to-Face
* Conference Call
* Video Conference
* Web-Based
* Virtual World-Based
and identified how often we meet. In a series of mathematical calculations (described in more detail in his slides he calculated that librarians convene 25 million meetings a year – and that the vast majority of them were face-to-face, with a few (23% or so) conference calls and less than 1% of each of the others. He also described doing some quick calculations during a face-to-face meeting that was dragging on about the expenditure of a couple of thousand dollars and concluded that the staff salaries alone made the meeting more expensive than whatever it was they were arguing over. His proposal was to move more meetings into the virtual space (and not by using conference calls, either, which he hates) so that people can multi-task, share rich information (documents, etc.) and be productive while meeting. He mentioned the use of social networking sites as a way to keep in touch in between meetings as well, a topic close to my heart, as you all know…
Check out his slides – they are packed with information and ideas on how to evaluate your current meetings and make ’em better. Also, check out his upcoming ALA Tech Source Tech Report for information on using virtual worlds as meeting “places”.


Usability for website redesigns

Three Low-Cost Usability Evaluation Methods For Library Website Redesign
Kim Thompson, Hsin-Liang Chen & Sanda Erdelez

This session went through 3 ways that the University of Missouri-Columbia folks conduct first-round usability testing on websites. The first method, Information Horizons, was one that they came up with themselves and was explained by Dr. Erdelez. The idea behind this method was to get users into a room with some paper and markers and have them draw out a mind-map sort of thing with themselves in the middle and the sources they would turn to for a particular information need branching out. Each successive “layer” of info sources would be in a different color. If your website doesn’t come up in the session naturally, you would bring it up yourself to see if they *ever* think of your site as an information provider. After discussing that, we went into paper prototyping (which I’ve discussed on this blog before and, since I have no Internet and I’m typing this up in Notepad, will ask you to search for because I can’t look up the URL of *where* I’d mentioned it before…) and Dr. Chen discussed his method that he uses to interactively create paper prototypes. He encourages his testing subjects to use paper “widgets” to lay out the page as they would like to see it, with their own labels and their own drawings if a widget isn’t available that suits them. Finally, Dr. Thompson discussed the idea of cognitive walk-throughs. This would happen before you bring in users to test out your paper prototypes – you envision a user, envision the steps that they would take to find the information and then use the prototype to see if there are any issues that come up during the execution of the task.
All 3 methods were interesting, pretty much free, and they looked quite useful!

conference presentations

My session

During this year’s MLA conference, I presented on Collaborating In The Cloud, a reprise of the session I first did in Jamaica in June. It seemed to go pretty well, with a lot of questions afterward and a lot of nodding and “a-ha” moments from the crowd. Bobbi was kind enough to snap a few pics of me in action during the presentation, so I’ll let you all check out the wiki and a quickly posted blog post of my presentation from an attendee and leave you with the pics…

DSC00388 DSC00386 DSC00384


Personal Safety For Librarians

Personal Safety for Librarians
Fred Vogt

This session started with a plug (that worked – I went out and bought it right after the session…) for Fred’s book, See Sally Kick Ass. This book, and his presentations, are designed to increase women’s safety in public places, including libraries. What I really enjoyed about the presentation were the *concrete* examples he gave.
The first thing he talked about was on crime statistics. St. Louis, where we are for the MLA conference, has a violent crime rate that is 4 times the national average. Makes me far less likely to go wandering around after dark outside of my hotel… He then talked about having a safety policy in place and what should be included in that policy. After that, he got specific and discussed librarian safety! The big takeaway, for me, from that section of the talk was to assume that patrons will comply with our – nonagressively phrased – orders and to walk away after we deliver them. This tied in nicely with the Customer Service workshop this morning into a cohesive set of instructions for, say, asking a patron to lower their voice. Don’t use “Your” or “You” right off the bat – say “please lower your voice” instead of “You need to lower your voice” – less aggressive and nicer – then walk away from the patron like you fully expect them to comply. That both provides a customer service orientation to the order and a safety component in that you aren’t there for them to argue with you and potentially become violent.
This was all followed by the four A’s of personal safety – Attitude (stand tall, walk confidently), Awareness (know what is going on in your environment), Avoidance (run away, run away…) and Action (fight back). Part of the “attitude” section dealt with how we stand when in confrontations. Standing with your right foot out about a foot and your right knee slightly bent makes you much harder to shove and makes you look more aggressive and able to fight. Also, part of the stance is to not stand directly in front of a potentially violent person. Stand 45 or 90 degrees off to their side so that they can’t just run at you in a straight line. All really good, practical, tips to use in any situation!
He finished up with some moves designed to break any kind of hold that a “bad guy” might get you into – either grabbing your arm(s), neck or from behind. We practiced those – my partner was Natasha, who is pregnant, so I didn’t practice very hard…. I’m not beating up a pregnant chick!
After the session, he was in the trade show area, selling and signing his book, so I got a signed copy for myself because I really did want to watch Sally kick some ass – and be prepared to do so myself if it becomes necessary!


MLA – Customer Service Workshop

Kim Flores & Mel Davis from Springfield Green library

Video – A Guy Walks Into A Library from Pike’s Peak Library (on VHS…)

“Every business chooses the kind of customer service they want to provide”

* Place
* Product
* Process
* People
* Promotion
* Personal Service
* Public Relations

Consistency in all the “P’s” is very important – training is VERY important
Employee empowerment is key – they need to feel like they have the power to make customers/patrons happy
We assume patrons will not have the correct information and it can show in our service.
Reputation of unfriendliness is PR – just not good PR…
(from brainstorming activity)
17 bad examples, 4 good examples – it’s so much easier to remember the bad than the good.

What can you change? – training, publicity
how does it affect patrons? – inconsistent application of policy, not being able to help patrons find/discover our resources

Quotes from real patron comment cards and discussion of how to fix the issues.

* wear identification to show you work there
* ask how their experience was

Customer Service Standards for SGCL (Springfield-Greene County Libraries)
* develop list of cs priorities
* combined from each branch and adopted library-wide
* basic expectations
* Acknowledge each customer in a pleasant manner and create an open, welcoming environment
(we can’t verbally do this in the PCC, but we could work on smiling at patrons as they enter and thanking them for waiting when we get busy)
* Maintain an awareness of customers in the building or service area – safety and CS – give customers your full attention as they approach a service desk
(take your hand from the mouse as you ask if you can help them – give them your full attention)
* Assess the level of need for assistance in locating materials or using the facility – approach customers and ask them if they need help
(make customers feel special – even if you are working on 15 things at once)
* Appear approachable
(limit personal conversations in public areas – practice interrupted sentences, invite customers to return, smile)
* Ask questions to determine specific needs of the customer
(ask to put someone on hold, thank them for holding)
* Respond positively & find ways to say YES
* Eliminate jargon
* Clearly communicate expectations the customer may have
(underpromise and overperform)
* Deliver service that exceeds the customer’s expectations
* Become well-versed in library policies, procedures, programs, etc.
(morning meetings to get everyone aware of what is going on in the library that day)
* Possess broad knowledge of resources & services
* Support your co-workers
* Provide services in a consistent manner
* Communicate (and understand) why you follow the policies that are in place
* Monitor customer behavior & enforce policies to create an atmosphere conducive to library functions
What about patrons who insist on dictating the library atmosphere? – talk to the patron and keep a file on discussions and maybe ban ’em. Many stories about patrons going wild in the library

What about No?
3-step process
* explain the reason
* show empathy
* let the customer know what you can do

Avoid “you have, you are” – change it to “please lower your voice” or “there is a balance on your card”
No debating. Inform them of what you want them to do (don’t ask) and walk away.

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