Trello logo - image of cards on a board

Increasing Transparency in the Library with Trello

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?

Trello logo - image of cards on a board

Great Finds: Trello

Trello-IconI was recently introduced to Trello by the boss at my non-library second job. At a small publicity company, all the employees have a lot of small inter-connecting tasks to do, which, if not done can leave someone else in the lurch.

Enter Trello, a to-do list on steroids.

You create a board for each project you and your team are working on and then cards with each of the steps required to finish it. By default, there are three columns, “To Do,” “Doing” and “Done,” but these are customizable. For instance, if you wanted to streamline your event planning, you could create a column called, “Create Facebook Event” and have individual programs represented as cards. On the cards, you can create due dates, checklists and attach files. As a manager, you include all the people involved in the project on the board and then on each of the cards, you include the person whose task it is. You can also tag anyone who the board is shared with in notes on cards to let them know there’s something important for them there.

When I went on a trip a while back, I used Trello to help me get through all the things I needed to do before I left. “Pack” was an individual card, with a 25 item packing list. While I was packing, the card lived in the “Doing” column and when I was finished, I moved it to “Done”. The web interface is clean and intuitive and both the Android and Apple apps were easy to use. I can imagine implementing Trello for a large, multi-faceted project (large fund-raising event) or using it as a way to track a process you do all the time (booking your meeting room spaces), where each of the steps is vital, but easy to forget.