Increasing Transparency in the Library with Trello

Megan Hartline —  December 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

Transparency is one of the more challenging aspects of leadership. Letting people in your group and across your organization know what you’re doing, what your priorities are, and what projects are up next takes a huge amount of conscious communication.

Trello offers a fix. As Kelly covered in her review of Trello last year, this online software is a collaborative productivity tool based on cards. It’s a good fit for libraries, where work is usually assigned to teams instead of individuals.

Our library has been easing into Trello, especially in IT and web initiatives, in order to track projects and individual tasks. Now, leadership (especially in library IT) is consciously using Trello for organizational transparency.

Potential projects are posted in priority order by each department on a digital board that can be viewed by anyone in the organization.

For instance, our circulation team needs a new web-based application for managing materials on course reserves. We create a card:Screenshot of a Trello "card" for "Course reserves management tool"Eventually, the card is fully fleshed out with the resources and time required, and prioritized along with other projects across the organization. Library staff invested in the project can follow the progress as the card is updated. The process is transparent.

Of course, this doesn’t happen without some wrangling. Project managers Suzanne Chapman, Meghan Musolff, and Kat Hagedorn shepherd the process along, including helping staff submitting cards describe their dream projects in words understandable across the library.

How does your library promote transparency? Do you use technology, or rely on in-person communication?

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

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