Photo credit: swimfinfan,

On Continuity

If you attended ALA, there’s a good chance you visited “The Bean” right in the middle of Millennium Park. If you haven’t seen it, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Cloud Gate resembles nothing less a drop of mercury deposited right in the middle of the city skyline.

But even this apparently seamless piece took some work to get where it is today. I moved to Chicago shortly after the park opened in summer 2004. At that point, the sculpture looked like this:

Photo credit: swimfinfan,

Photo credit: Mary Beeze, via Flickr

OK, I know what you’re thinking: cool story, yes, nice context for the Bean, yes, but what on earth does this have to do with library leadership?

Here goes: The Bean wasn’t the Bean until it became one smooth piece of metal. It’s up to us to buff out the seams in our own organizations.

For all the talk about the library as one organization, we seem to exist more as a collection of discrete services. Youth and adult librarians rarely cross paths, making it tough for patrons who fall in the middle of this demilitarized zone. Circulation staff – often the most regular point of contact for many patrons – are often the last to be alerted to new policies or services. And those of us who do a lot of library work online are still in a state of détente with those “traditional” librarians. In order to lead the way forward, we need to smooth out these distinctions, and strengthen the relationship between departments.

In some cases, it might be a matter of raising awareness of cross-departmental programming – a “library awesomeness advisory,” if you will. in other cases, it’s going to require staff from all departments working together to identify ways in which our organizations can better present an organic experience. Whatever the method, thinking more holistically about library service can help to enhance the overall patron experience, and help to eliminate the drop-offs in usage that occur when someone transitions from one age group to another.

Is all this going to happen overnight? Of course not. After the opening of the park in 2004, it took an additional year for workers to polish out the seams, and almost another year before the piece was “officially” unveiled to the public. Rebuilding under this more connected approach is going to take a similar amount of time and struggle.

Perhaps it’s time we think about how our services can link with one another. As you decompress from your conference experience, talk to your coworkers and colleagues about what they learned. Make a point to catch up with people from other departments. Let’s start thinking about how we can smooth out our gaps.


Holding down the fort during ALA

20130628-075500.jpgZillions of librarians are descending upon Chicago for the annual ALA conference. For those of us who are staying back to hold down the fort during the conference, you won’t miss out entirely if you take some of these steps.

Stay connected to conference musings by taking a gander at Twitter. The hashtag for the conference is #ala2013. This link will take you to a search using that tag. You can find the official word on the conference here.

Are you a Pinterest enthusiast? Give this one a try.

Reach out to those who you know are attending. See if they can help you gather information on new services or ideas, ask them what inspired them at the conference and see if they can offer any leads based on their experience.

Keep your eyes on Library Lost & Found. Several of our contributors will be posting along the way. You won’t want to miss what they have to share! Expect to see some action on LL&F Twitter and LL&F Facebook too.

If you missed out on attending this year’s conference, start planning to attend a future conference. All of the conference locations through 2021 are listed here. Also be sure to check out statewide or regional conferences that can offer some really great opportunities as well.

If you are attending this year’s conference, I’m pretty sure your colleagues holding down the fort would dig some conference swag and goodies.


Get Lost in Chicago!

The librarians are coming to Chicago!  In addition to the ALA Annual Conference , the Windy City will host the 44th Annual Chicago Pride Week and a Stanley Cup Parade.  How does one stand out in this crowd?  Your friends at Library Lost & Found have the answer!  We will be giving away our limited edition glow-in-the-dark buttons at ALA to 100 lucky leaders.


What do you have to do to get this awesome piece of swag?  If you see someone wearing a button approach them with proof that you follow our blog or like us on Facebook.  If the person is one of our super cool blog contributors, they just might have an extra button to give you.

Library Lost & Found has been dropping knowledge for almost four months, and in that time the blog has been viewed over 15,000 times!  Thanks to all of you for picking up what we have been dropping.

Servant Leadership at ALA Annual


The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) will be sponsoring a workshop on Servant Leadership at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on June 28.  Professional library trainer, Linda Bruno, will discuss how you can cultivate a strong loyalty from both staff and library users.  Servant leaders focus outwardly and work in partnership with their staff and communities.