Show, Then Tell

Eva —  May 22, 2013 — Leave a comment
Eva Davis with some of her library trustees holding their LibraryAware award check.

Eva Davis with some of her library trustees holding their LibraryAware award check.

Show & Tell is an elementary school fixture. For those who are unfamiliar, Show & Tell is when you bring an object to school, Show it to everyone and then Tell them about it. Kids bring in stuffed animals, pictures, souvenirs, favorite foods, etc. Show & Tell encourages the development of narrative skills and socializes kids to the niceties of polite society–even if I didn’t give a rip about Jeff Gold’s soccer cleats, I politely listened to what he had to say and clapped for him when he was done.

In Show & Tell, you show first, then tell everyone about it. As a frontline employee, supervisor, manager, and now an administrator, I have learned that Show & Tell is also important for building trust with others. Nobody wants to hear me tell them how awesome I am; they want to see it. Talk can often be just hot air–especially if you are new to the group and no one knows you. Leaders must earn the respect and trust of their group, by keeping promises and delivering results. I work constantly to demonstrate to my staff, my community, and my board that I am committed and productive.

I am lucky; for the most part, the people I work with share the same ethic of Show & Tell. My staff know their jobs and do them well, working together to connect the library to our community. Because we take Show & Tell to heart, we were selected to be the inaugural recipient of the LibraryAware Community Award, appearing on the cover of Library Journal’s April 1 issue. We had a party on May 10 to receive our award, with a turnout of 200-250 people. The library is there every day for our community, and as a result, our community was there for us when we received our award.

I encourage you to keep Show & Tell in mind, fellow leaders. Building trust is crucial to great leadership. Show your department, your division, your library, your community how awesome you are, and you won’t have to Tell–they will do the Telling for you.



Eva Davis is the Director of the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan--not Canton, Ohio, or Canton, Massachusetts, or Canton, Mississippi. (It is an easy mistake to make.) Eva honed her supervisory and management skills working in customer service, research, and publishing before heading to graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Information. She became a librarian in 1998. She was an intern and then the teen services librarian at the Plymouth (MI) District Library before moving to the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library, where she was Head of the Youth Department at the Downtown library, Head of Youth Services for the system, Head of Branch Services, and finally Associate Director for Public Services. Eva has held her dream job as the Director of the award-winning Canton Public Library since 2008. She received the Michigan Library Association's Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Teen Services in 2003, and is a graduate of both Leadership Ann Arbor and Leadership Canton, where she learned that she is moderately Affiliative according to MAFF, her color is "Green" on the Four Color Personality Test, and her Myers-Briggs Type is INTJ (although she has worked diligently and consistently on improving her Sensing, so she now leans ISTJ). Follow @CantonLibrary and @EvaDavisCPL on Twitter. (Photo credit: Susan Kennedy)

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