Discovering Opportunities in Difficult Times - ABQLA

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Presentation at the Quebec Library Association (ABQLA) May 8, 2010

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  • Photos: Who I am and How I Came to this topicBrief Bio – over 25 years experience in libraries of all types in all capacitiesMost of this time in NM where I’ve worked mostly in/with small, rural public and special librariesAlso as Technology Consultant in State Library- had the Opportunity to see bigger picturefrom the insidePhotos represent where I’ve worked and librarians I’ve known since going to NM
  • Wrote Accidental Librarian: basic principles and practices of librarianship for librarians without MLS and/or experience in librarianship - Removing Barriers Ch 14While writing Accidental Librarian, it came to me that there is something more important than our education or experience in library science.Removing Barriers and seeing opportunities is essential. Last chapter I wrote and most important.I observed that a library director in an affluent communities with many resources could see herself as poor and disadvantaged – and one running a library with NO BUDGET managed to find opportunities and run programs in spite of thisIt is a way of looking at things, a way of approaching things, or an attitude that determines whether or not we see opportunities or what we do in difficult circumstancesNot to do with predetermined external conditions 2 stories: Corrales and prison
  • This I Know For SureHow we see things determines what actions we take … including how we respond in difficult circumstances.What I will coverA closer look at obstacles and why we see themSome techniques you can use to change your mind about how you see thingsStrategies for being prepared to see opportunities 
  • Slide 5Yes, these are hard times for librarians and almost everyone else.Cover of recent Computers in Libraries magazine portrays the dire situation
  • #1 Obstacle is the ECONOMYSome common obstacles for librarians today – result mostly from economy:Budgets have been cutHours decreased, positions eliminatedLibraries closingNot enough staffNot enough timeNot enough moneyWe already have too much work to do
  • How are librarians responding?Library Journal’s recent Annual Budget Survey reveals 16% library directors are positive/23% negative about their library’s financial future In my experience over the years, I’ve heard librarians tell me many reasons why they are not able to move ahead, try new ideas or meet new community needsThese are obstacles and they fall primarily into 4 categories:Arise from our Self-perceptionJust plain Resistant to ChangeFearDiversionary Reasons (It’s not my fault)
  • Self Perception: How we see ourselves sometimes determines our ability to move aheadWe are just a small library in a little villageThe library is not a priority in my townThere are more important departmentsWe are disadvantaged and underprivilegedOur customers are happy with things the way they areThere are no new community needsWe can’t improve on the services we offer
  • Fear: Sometimes we’re afraid. Sometimes we’re afraid to admit we’re afraid.We don’t like taking risksWe won’t take the chance unless there are guaranteesFailure is not an optionWe don’t know where to startWe don’t have the expertiseI’m not sticking my neck out for a new ideaIf it doesn’t work we’ll be a laughing stock
  • Resistance to Change: Just plain don’t want to try anything newWe’ve always managed just fineNow is not a good time for new ideasWe’ll never get the fundingIt will take too long to implementIt’s not worth the effortI’m too old for thisIt will never happenThey don’t pay me enoughIt’s not my jobI’ll get back to you on thatMaybe some other time
  • Diversionary: Blaming and finger pointing to divert attention. It’s not my fault.My director/mayor/administrator is not interestedThere is too much bureaucracy here to get that doneThe IT department/person won’t let usOur computers/network/software are too oldWe already tried that and it didn’t workFirst we’ll have to do research, feasibility studies and gather data
  • I’m sure you are facing your own obstacles in your library. Are there other obstacles you ‘s like to add to my list? Ask Audience~~~~What Are Obstacles?Most people will say they are bad things that happen to us, unfortunate circumstances in our lives or barriers that get in our way = All Outside of us, Things that Happen to Us, All Negative, All out of our control
  • But REALLY obstacles are learned negative thinking patterns that result from internal or external events, factors or circumstancesSeeing obstacles is a learned and practiced thinking pattern or way of seeing things
  • What Happens When We Focus on Obstacles?When we are focused on obstacles are apt to see more of themNegative thinking patterns create more negative thinking patternsWhen you focus on negative thoughts you make them stronger When you focus on what is missing you attract what is missingYou can even see real opportunities as obstacles if your negative thinking patterns have worn large enough ruts What Happens in Our Libraries When We See Mostly Obstacles? (More far reaching)We become less productiveWe are less excited about new ideasWe and staff around us become discouragedWe disengage at workWe go through the motionsThings start to atrophyThe environment around us becomes negativeValuable staff members quitNegative Library SignageCustomers are turned away … more negative things happen The good news is Negative thinking patterns are learned and they can be unlearned.
  • Explain DiagramYou have a CHOICE!What results from Positive Thinking Patterns?More productiveMore excited about new ideasMotivatedMore likely to approach a person, thing or situationOpen to new ideas and experiencesPeople like us better, we are more approachableWe actively engageTalented people want to work with usPartnerships and collaborations are more likely to establishMental set is tolerant, expansive and creativeWe are open to more opportunities  Seeing the downsideTaking defensive actionBeing pessimistic Understandable first reactionsNews is badFocus is on deficitsHard to avoidThis is human natureWe were trained as children/upbringing BUT this will not serve you or your library well in the long runThis kind of thinking leads to a dead end You Can Change Your MindYou Have a ChoiceYou Can Decide to Focus on Opportunities Instead of ObstaclesWhat do you choose?
  • Title Slide: Doing the Work HOW? Here are some practical techniques:
  • First: Be aware of your thinking patterns and observe themHow do you think? How do you react?What is your predisposition? Are there certain ruts? Do you prejudge?Do you have positive or negative first thoughts to certain input?What is your internal dialogue? Listen. Pay attention. Notice. Observe. Be objective.
  • Self tests can help you figure this out if you’re having a hard timeThis will give you a starting point
  • Adjust Your Thinking and Change What you Say to YourselfChange the negative things you say to yourself – they prevent you from seeing opportunitiesYou learned to think this way, and you are conditioned BUT you can uncondition yourselfChange your internal dialogue – catch yourself if you hear negativityQuestion negative thoughts. Are they really true?Learn new things to say to yourselfCultivate a positive internal dialogueDesign positive thoughts to replace negative onesWe think what we want to think, so decide to think positivelyMake your mind work for youTeach your brain new tricksRedirect negative thoughts
  • Be less reactive and more responsiveNatural defenses sometimes kick in before we have a chance to thinkTriggered by fear and lack of confidenceThis is humanReacting without thinking can often result in negative responses (or Perceived)Negative reactions can often ramp up an interaction without intending toThink before you reactFormulate a response
  • What we say can reflect negative thinking ruts and defensive reactionsThink before you speakHow will the words you say be received?Phrase statements positively – the goal is a positive resultAim for a solution in what you sayDecide that complaining, moaning and reflecting “stuckness” in your words is not allowedGive examples of each in chart
  • Librarians have more to do with less time, less staff, fewer hours, fewer resourcesMore people than ever are visiting libraries and their needs are expandingIt’s easy to become overwhelmed with increasing demandsLibrarians use different skill sets at once, constantly moving from one part of our brains to anotherWe multitask – not fully attending to any one thingWhen our focus is not so great we are more likely to be interrupted or become distracted by the next task coming our wayHave you ever ended a day at work wondering what you accomplished?Even though we are trying to do more we are accomplishing lessWe lose our compass and fail to see opportunitiesSolution: Stop and take a deep breath, organize your thoughts or make categorized lists, and Do One Thing at a Time
  • Know where you are going and what your purpose is. This is your personal compassWrite a statement of purposeCovey, This I Believe, Personal Mission Statement WorksheetThis will help you see opportunities that are in alignment with your personal goals
  • Optimism is a form of reality, a way of seeing thingsAssociate with positive peopleSurround yourself with positive input (music, TV, radio, media)When you are feeling negative, talk yourself through itDon’t take things personallyWelcome positive experiences
  • Here are 7 strategies you can use to help you see opportunities that come your way, make informed decisions, be proactive, position yourself and your library ahead of the curve, move forward and build sustainability for your libraries How you position yourself and how you approach these challenging times is in your handsYour library and your community depend on it
  • Make sure your library’s strategic plan is in placeMake sure your plan is solid = unique plan created specifically for your library with your community needs as the driving force, community inputprovides solid foundation for all you doyou will know what you are doing, why you are doing it, where you are now, where you are headed in the futureprovides a meaningful purposenavigational tool that will help guide you in difficult times as well as in easier timesmotivates you into the futureallows you to integrate vision, mission, goals into what you do every day If necessary, update, adjust, revise or recreate the planPlans are living documents meant to be changed and adjusted as circumstances changeDevelop projects from strategic plan (know where you are going in the future)Example: Wealthy community member wants to know what you would do with a million dollars. You’d better have an answer. People are more likely to give to organizations that are clear about what they are doing and why
  • Know your library’s mission, vision and goals. Focus on meeting the needs of the people you serve. Design some projects that meet this criteria. This is your compass at work and tells you where you are, what you are doing and where you are going.This will help you see opportunities for your library. You are les likely to become distracted when you are focused on goals.
  • Communities are dynamic and constantly changingStay informed between formal community needs assessments by conducting short surveys, polls, small focus groups and informal interviewsAnalyze and synthesize census informationTrack demographic trendsIncorporate new articles (plants closing, companies opening new offices, latest unemployment figures)Know how the economy has effected your community and determine new and emerging needsLibraries that are valued highly stay ahead of the curve and offer services and programs to meet new needs before there is a crisisBe aware that the people who use the library are not necessarily the same as your communityOutreachPrepare a community profile and keep it on hand – boilerplate for grant, or for “ammunition” file
  • As budgets become tighter – more important to join forces with other libraries, organizations, agencies, schools, businesses or clubs, other departments in your organizationMaximize resources to meet common needsBe visibleGet out of the libraryTell people about your library’s plans for the future and project ideasShow up at meetings where collaborations and partnerships are being formed, brainstorming taking place and funds are being soughtYou have unique talents and resources to offerLibraries are ideal partners – serves all socioeconomic and educational levelsYou can share the responsibility for a project with othersPotential for larger impact and more sustainability 
  • Example:Aztec Public Library, NMDigital Media Arts ProgramFulfills need in communityGoal and purpose drivenFunded by multiple sourcesMultiple partners involvedNew “library paradigm” model for community
  • Stay Informed about new funding opportunities
  • Keep LearningAbout your future projectsAbout library topics that interest youAbout grants and proposal writingThere are many free and low-cost learning opportunities for librariansHere are a fewCommonCraft 
  • Sirsi/Dynix
  • Sarah Long’s PodcastsOnline academic classes Your provincial/ regional library/network/consortiaRead
  • Discovering Opportunities in Difficult Times - ABQLA

    1. 1. Discovering Opportunitiesin Difficult Times <br />presented by<br />Pamela MacKellar<br />May 8, 2010<br />Quebec Library Association 78th Annual Conference<br />
    2. 2. Welcome<br />
    3. 3. A funny thing happened as I was writing this book …<br />RemovingBarriers<br />Chapter 14<br />
    4. 4. This I Know for Sure<br />How we see things determines what actions we take … including how we respond in difficult circumstances.<br />
    5. 5. Part 1<br />A Closer Look at Obstacles<br />
    6. 6. Some Common Obstacles for Librarians<br />#1: The Economy<br />Budgets have been cut<br />Hours decreased, positions eliminated<br />Libraries closing<br />Not enough staff<br />Not enough time<br />Not enough money<br />We already have too much work to do<br />
    7. 7. data from Library Journal’s Annual Budget Survey<br />
    8. 8. Self-perception<br />We are just a small library in a little village<br />We are disadvantaged and underprivileged<br />We can’t improve on the services we offer<br />
    9. 9. Fear<br />I’m not sticking my neck out for a new idea<br />We don’t like taking risks<br />Failure is not an option<br />We don’t know where to start<br />
    10. 10. Resistance to Change<br />We’ve always managed just fine<br />Now is not a good time for new ideas<br />It will never happen<br />It’s not my job<br />Maybe some other time<br />
    11. 11. Diversionary<br />My director/mayor/administrator is not interested<br />There is too much bureaucracy here to get that done<br />Our computers/network/software are too old<br />We already tried that and it didn’t work<br />
    12. 12. What Obstacles Are You Facing?<br />
    13. 13. Obstacles<br />are<br />negative thinking patterns<br />that result from internal or external<br />events, factors or circumstances<br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15. CHOICE<br />Positive Thinking<br />Event<br />Circumstance<br />Factor<br />Negative Thinking<br />
    16. 16. Part 2<br />How You Can Turn<br />Obstacles intoOpportunities<br />
    17. 17. FirstBecome AwareandObserve Your Thinking Process<br />
    18. 18. Take a Self-Test<br />Learned Optimism Test - Dr. Martin Seligman<br />Optimism/Pessimism Test - Human Mind Project<br />Spirituality & Health Optimism Test<br />Optimism/Pessimism Test - Psychology Today<br />Positivity Test and Optimism Test - Happier.com <br />University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center<br />Authentic Happiness Website<br />Links at www.accidentallibrarian.com/Resources<br />
    19. 19. Adjust Your ThinkingChange What You Say to Yourself<br />“You and I are infinite choice-makers” Deepak Chopra<br />
    20. 20. Natural defenses sometimes kick in<br />before we have a chance to think<br />Be Less Reactive and More Responsive<br />
    21. 21. Watch Your Language<br />
    22. 22. Give what you are doing your full attention<br />Complete one task before going on to the next<br />Do One Thing at a Time<br />
    23. 23. Update Your Personal Mission Statement<br />Know where you are going and what you are doing<br />
    24. 24. “After my house burned down, I saw the moon more clearly.”<br />Old Zen saying<br />Cultivate the Optimism HabitNotice What is Right<br />
    25. 25. Part 3<br />7 Preparedness Strategies<br />
    26. 26. 1. Have a Strategic Plan in Place<br />This is a navigational tool that will guide you in difficult times <br />
    27. 27. 2. Focus on Your Goals<br />Let them guide you in everything you do.<br />
    28. 28. 3. Know Your Community<br />
    29. 29. 4. Partner and Collaborate<br />Businesses<br />Agencies, non-profits, organizations, clubs<br />Schools<br />Other departments in your organization<br />Other libraries<br />Museums<br />
    30. 30. 5. Follow Library Funding Trends<br />
    31. 31. 6. Stay Informed<br /><ul><li>Subscribe to Library Grants Blog RSS feed
    32. 32. Sign up for grants alerts
    33. 33. Subscribe to online newsletters
    34. 34. Subscribe to librarian’s discussion lists</li></li></ul><li>7. Keep LearningLearn New Skills<br />commoncraft<br />http://www.commoncraft.com/<br />
    35. 35. Learn About New Trends<br />SirsiDynix<br />http://www.sirsidynixinstitute.com/archive.php<br />
    36. 36. Learn about Library Technology<br />TechSoup for Libraries<br />http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/events<br />
    37. 37. Learn about Grants<br />Foundation Center<br />http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/training/webinars/<br />
    38. 38. Learn New Ways<br />Long Shots<br />http://www.librarybeat.org/longshots<br />
    39. 39. “If you think you can – or if you think you can’t … you’re right.”<br />Henry Ford<br />
    40. 40. Thank you!<br />pmackellar182@gmail.com<br />www.accidentallibrarian.com/Resources<br />

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