Archives For goals

self-care-in-addiction-recoveryI think it’s safe to say that a lot of us had a rough 2016. For those of us that interact with the public for the majority of the day, a charged, political atmosphere gave many of us an added challenge during desk shifts.

It’s important to say that my personal politics do not affect how I speak to patrons, and I think the same can be said for most of us. As librarians, we should be giving patrons the same quality of assistance regardless of how we feel about them personally, whether we agree or disagree with them. It is our job to be helpful and impartial.

However, while we are able to control how we react to a reference interview, there is a lot we cannot control about how the patron perceives us, or what kind of opinions or emotions they bring with them into the library.

When there is conflict all around us – all over the media, in our community spaces, maybe even in some of our homes – no matter which side you identify with, we cannot take for granted that any interaction will mean the same thing to both of the people in it. There is an added layer to how we react and the potential for escalation.

Navigating that minefield can be tiring. Sometimes being civil is difficult, and sometimes being reasonable doesn’t feel especially satisfying. But, because we are professionals, we bite our tongues and do our best. I feel like I did more of that in 2016 than in previous years.

As a manager, I have noticed how tired my staff is. I think 2016 has taken a toll on everyone. We talk about it a lot off the desk. This intangible atmosphere brought on by the minefield is the only thing that has changed, so it’s what I believe I can attribute it to.

My goal for 2017 is self care. The election is over, but my community still feels very charged and hyper-aware of our differences. Between needing to build our strength reserves back up and looking forward to providing all of our services with energy and compassion, we need to pay attention to how well we are taking care of ourselves.

In my never-ending quest to make my workplace a space where people enjoy spending 40 waking hours every week, I recently resolved to check in with staff more often, and those meetings will be good outlets. There isn’t much I can do about how much time people spend out on the desk interacting with the public, but I can encourage staff to be self-aware and ask for help when they need it.

I’ve seen relief come in many forms – sometimes you just need someone to make you laugh, or reassure you that not every interaction will feel so draining. We can share and emphasize the positive interactions we have with patrons. As a manager, I can make every effort to honor staff requests for vacations when they need them, and recognize urgency when it’s in front of me.

Prove Me Wrong

kathrynabergeron —  March 12, 2015 — 1 Comment

9880428234_8a18ed679e_bIn the past month or so, my Library has hired two new Department Heads. Both of these new hires report to me, and I am thrilled to get to work with them. But, in working through their training with them, I kept asking myself the question, “what is my goal for these new leaders?”

In thinking about this, I’ve been meditating on something that an employee of my father’s said at his retirement party last summer. She said that the thing that she appreciated most about working for my father was that there were days when he would disagree with her approach, but his answer was, “prove me wrong.”

My goals for my Department Heads are:

  1. That they’re willing to come to me with new and crazy ideas
  2. That they’re willing to respectfully and thoughtfully disagree with me
  3. That in situations where its appropriate, they are able to prove me wrong

What’s my goal for myself? To give them the freedom to succeed and to help them prove me wrong at every step. A little humility never hurt anyone.

Library SMARTs

Megan Hartline —  February 4, 2014 — 2 Comments

January is prime time for setting personal and organizational work goals. This year, we’re trying to get SMART about goals in our library.

I’m way excited about goals, but those caps aren’t for shouting. SMART signifies the classic framework for making productive goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

SMART goals are common in the business world, and implementing them in the library addresses a particularly library-ish pattern of behavior. Since libraries are  service-oriented knowledge centers, our approach to goals is sometimes reactive and the solution is almost always instinctively based on sharing information.

For example: student patrons want class materials available sooner. Library employees want to meet the patrons’ needs, so they make post a page on the library website asking professors to put in reserves requests earlier.

The library reacts by communicating with stakeholders. While a good step to take, this action is instinctive and reactive rather than deliberate, and it isn’t SMART.

If the goal was SMART, it would look something like this:


Ensure that course reserves materials are processed and on the shelf before the semester starts.


All requests received one week prior to the start of the semester will be processed by the first day of classes.


Yes! Outlining the measurable factors recognizes that some requests will come in after the semester starts, and addresses that situation in the goal.


This goal directly addresses the student concerns.


On the first day of classes, the library staff can assess whether they met their goal.

Now that a way to measure success is in place, the library can start taking actions, including the great idea they had of communicating with faculty. They can make a supporting goal that is also SMART, including measurable outcomes of the communication plan.

SMART goals are also a manager’s best friend when performance evaluation time rolls around. The measurable component gives concrete examples of employee success, and makes both praise and constructive criticism more specific and helpful.

Our library department held a workshop last week to kick off 2014 with SMART goals.

We warmed up with a hands-on activity to identify activities we already do that support the library mission.

Then we coached employees through setting two goals: one for work activities, and one for personal professional development. The SMART concept was old hat to some and completely new to others. Some goals created at the event included:

  • Oiling squeaky book cart wheels within the next two months to reduce noise.
  • Develop and propose a system for emailing patrons right before holds expire.

The SMART framework helped staff brainstorming generate not just broad ideas, but actionable plans. This was our first time doing goal setting in a large group, and the SMART goal structure got great responses from our team.

How does your library do goal-setting?