2017 ALA Annual Thoughts

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ALA Annual was amazing this year, filled with big names like Hillary Clinton and Brené Brown. It was inspiring and uplifting, encouraging and full of lots of books too.I’m not here to gloat about the bags of books I got, though many will grace this blog as I try to read them all. I have piles of pins to decorate my office tack-board, pads of paper and post-it notes to use for the year, and trinkets for co-workers to share.
Since I can’t share the physical books and trinkets with you, I want to share seven pieces of wisdom I heard at the conference that I’ll carry forward in my work at the library:
  1. If you are silent, you are part of the problem. – This was said about LGBT, diversity, management, teamwork and social justice in general.
  2. Advocacy – the importance of libraries not being neutral but also having a social justice position is crucial. In order to serve our entire community, we need to advocate for them.
  3. Customer Service is changing, including the no service desk model in Gwinnett County and Open+ being used to extend hours in a staff-free way.
  4. Change is constant, and we need to be part of it. Making bold changes in library service keeps libraries relevant and responsive to community needs. Changes should be done with your own specific community in mind.
  5. Communication is crucial. Communication is important not just by leadership but from staff too. It needs to be two-way and compassionate. Staff need to feel safe and supported in order to embrace change and enjoy their work.
  6. Management needs to focus on earning trust and supporting staff whether through major changes or changes in culture. Control needs to lessen, hierarchies are problematic, and staff need to have a voice. Management needs to give staff enough power that it makes management uncomfortable.
  7. Books are back – more physical books than ever were on the exhibit floor. The move away from e-book samples and timed ARCs was vividly different from three years ago.