Archives For recognition

hand giving a thumbs up

Compliments are just as important to library leaders as they are to everyone else. In the last two days I’ve received three compliments about my work. This is notable for several reasons:

First, they were compliments about my work product/work style, and not my hair or clothing. I’m way more interested in being perceived as competent and good at my job than being perceived as fashionable (this is a hallmark of being an INTJ). Because so much of my work as a library director is about glad-handing and being out in public, most of the compliments I receive are about what I’m wearing or what I look like.

Second, they were spontaneous compliments. Unsolicited work compliments are rare for me, and I assume for any manager. Being a library director is a singular, and often lonely, position, so there’s little opportunity for the kind of camaraderie and support that other library staff provide each other. If I ask a coworker “What did you think about my presentation?” I worry that it puts them in a weird spot because I hold power over them, so where’s the incentive for them to be honest? I totally get that. So to have coworkers tell me out of the blue that I did a good job is a real ego-boost.

Lastly, I hardly ever get compliments anymore, and to get three in two days is way out of the norm. Partially it’s because a lot of the work I do is amorphous, long-term, and difficult to quantify, so how does anyone compliment that? I think it’s also because I don’t have someone onsite daily who monitors and reviews my work, so I don’t get feedback on a consistent basis.

Managers like compliments, too! If you have a great boss, or great boss’s boss, I encourage you to let them know when they’ve done a particularly good job on something. I know the three sets of kind words I’ve gotten recently will get me through the next several weeks, if not months.

Better Than a Fruitcake!

Kevin King —  December 22, 2015 — Leave a comment

6a0112796f38d028a401675fa3c5f4970bDuring the holiday season we all get crazy busy, so it is difficult to remember to take time to recognize. This year during our annual department celebration I made it a point to make sure that I held up the accomplishments of the staff. What I did was asked each of them ahead of time to be prepared to talk about their favorite memory or accomplishment in the past year. This task did two things, 1) staff were able to share want gave them joy at work and 2) it gave me a chance to publicly thank them for being a part of that joy. Hearing the great things we did throughout the year made us all happy in the end!

So before the year is over, take the time to spotlight the great work your team accomplished over the past year. If at all possible acknowledge it publicly because that gift is better than a fruitcake.

On behalf of all the LL&F contributors, we would like to wish you a very Happy Holidays! 

The call is out for nominations for the Melvil Dewey Medal, an award that recognizes “achievement for recent creative leadership of high order, particularly in those fields in which Melvil Dewey was actively interested: library management, library training, cataloging and classification, and the tools and techniques of librarianship.” In addition to $2000, the winner will receive a citation in an actual 24K gold frame!

Do you know a leader that fits the criteria? Someone who likes solid gold citation frames? It is our duty as fellow leaders to lift up our colleagues that are making us all better.

Click here for official instructions and online application.

Now the intro to Solid Gold, because that’s what is running through my brain.

Photo of a star-shaped helium balloon floating over London cityscape

cc by-sa Lars Plougmann via flickr


You know that recognizing staff achievement can boost morale across your library (and Kevin just shared his method for remembering to give kudos). The positive effect of recognition is multiplied when it goes beyond an internal appreciation.

The library profession offers a variety of awards to recognize achievement, with various organizations choosing to highlight different facets of librarianship. We took a look at how different library associations around the world award library leadership. Here’s a small sample of library leadership awards from different national library organizations:



The Library Association of Chile recently split their Outstanding Librarian Award into three categories: teaching, research, and management. The 2015 award was given to Isabel Maturana Salas, a champion of information standards.


The Nigerian Library Association confers the E.B. Bankole Librarian of the Year Award for innovative individuals with a focus on contributing to the profession. The distinction is paired with a cash prize.


The Library Association of Singapore recognizes those “who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to the library profession” with a Professional Service Award. Cool bonus: the award includes a piece of artwork. The 2013 recipient of the Professional Service Award was Idris bin Rashid Khan Surattee, recognized for thought leadership and special library management.

United Kingdom

We love a peer mentoring angle on leadership: the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals encourages growing leadership in others by giving a Mentor of the Year Award. The 2014 Mentor of the Year, Samuel Wiggins, said, “Mentoring can help to develop all individuals and, crucially, helps to start ideas and stir enthusiasm for the profession, for the mentee’s job, and for their own personal development.”

United States

Library Journal recognizes emerging leaders in an annual roundup of Movers and Shakers. The large group of individuals included each year are regognized in categories such as change agents, advocates, and community builders. A few of our own Library Lost & Found contributors (including Monica Harris and Leah White) have been Movers and Shakers. Heads up: 2016 nominations are due November 6).


Do you know an outstanding librarian? Spread the word about their great work. Find a regional, national, or international award that fits their great achievements. Many specializations within librarianship have leadership awards as well, from multicultural services to digital innovation.

Even if your nominees don’t win, knowing that you nominated them can be a huge morale boost.

Of course, every time a librarian gets an award, many others working hard and contributing to the profession don’t. Librarianship is a wide field of individuals doing a fascinating variety of work, and it’s impossible to award everyone who deserves recognition.

Awards are not the only way to recognize great work, and accolades are incredibly meaningful when they come from your own library leadership. In addition to looking at external awards, seek ways to heap praise on your employees internally. Librarians don’t need a gold star to feel good about their contributions, but it sure helps to know that colleagues appreciate hard work.

Let us know what you think about library awards in the comments!

Recognition Reminder

Kevin King —  September 25, 2015 — 1 Comment

04iconMy biggest weakness as a manager is giving recognition. As someone whose greatest strength is innovation and future thinking, I am horrible at celebrating the most recent achievements of my teammates. This is why when I read articles that highlight what employees complain most about their leaders, it does not shock me that recognition is mentioned most often. Recently I have turned to creating a digital reminder (app of choice is Wunderlist) to help me remember to recognize every day. Not only does it encourage me to take a few minutes every day to thank people for contributing to the team, it forces me explore what each staff member is doing for the library. I am often learning about new projects, innovations and great customer service deeds because I am taking the time to seek out people to recognize.

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog post titled, “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders,” author Lou Solomon lists some great ways to recognize your team members. It is a amazing resource to use in addition to being intentional about recognizing on a daily basis.