Friday, May 21, 2010

The Library - One Month Later

It has been a month since I first wrote on this blog about a toxic situation at the library system where I used to work. In that month, nothing has changed and everything has changed. (If this is your first visit to this blog, you can read previous posts about the library by clicking on the selections in the "Blog Index" on the right side of the screen.)

First the nothing:
  • The board of trustees, at least publicly, put their full support behind the administration and their policies without even talking to the current and former staff who have been the subject of questionable employment practices.
  • Top management has reorganized the administrative staff for the umpteenth time, resulting in the appointment of an Employee Relations Specialist who has little or no power.
  • No one on the board or in management has acknowledged the existence of this blog, the new library staff google group, or admitted any problems exist at the library. 
Now the everything:
  • The number of visits to this blog and the total page views are off the charts with a 1600% increase in the past month. More than 250 people have read what was written here about the library and more than 50 supportive comments have been made.
  • The new google group, LibraryLib, now has 40 members and an open discussion on many topics including how to survive administrative leave, high salary costs in administration, the levy, unionization, and discontent over lack of action by the board of trustees.
  • For the first time in recent memory, the library staff is starting to exchange information among themselves about what has been happening in secret. Many feel empowered by the support from each other and the community.
  • To my knowledge, no one has been disappeared in the last month (a victory?).
Library staff, former staff and community members are invited to join the conversation here at LibraryLib. For the protection of all: Join this group with an email address used only for this group; do not use any identifying details when describing yourself, your branch or the library; do not access this forum at work; assume the administration has joined the group.


  1. As far as the numbers are concerned, anyone with a semester of statistical analysis would know that the only conclusions Dottie Mae can reasonably draw from her hit counter is that visits to her site have increased. Aside from the handful of malcontents who post regularly, she has no idea why the majority of people are looking at her blog. And she can’t say with certainty (aside from the handful of malcontents who post regularly) who is looking at her blog. Nearly everyone slows to look at a wreck on the highway, but no one knows what they’re thinking.
    This concept of the growing ranks of dissenters is an illusion. We have a very small group of unhappy people with a sense of entitlement. They think they’re smarter than everyone else and that the rules don’t apply to them. They have undeservedly reached the upper level of the social stratosphere at the library because they are loud and aggressive. People yield to them because they are scared or weary, not because they share their concerns.
    It’s interesting that Dottie Mae calls herself a library lover. When she worked for the library she was perfectly happy taking the taxpayer’s hard-earned, surplus money as a space consultant and recommended the purchase of expensive furniture, not exactly high priorities when considering the library’s mission. Dottie Mae can deny culpability for the space design by saying she didn’t start the project, but she certainly benefitted from it. The very reason for her employment as a sub-contractor to the space consultant contributed to the library’s financial pickle. Maybe that’s what she means by tough love?
    Dottie Mae no longer works for the library. In fact she doesn’t even live in the same state as her former library. If I truly loved libraries, as Dottie Mae claims, I’d spend less time blogging about the one I left and more time supporting the library in my new town. I’m sure they’d love to have someone with her knowledge of space design, color pallets, fabrics and $600 office chairs.

  2. Even though the last comment was an angry, personal attack from some anonymous person who takes exception to what I have written, I welcome them to this blog. Out of the 50+ comments posted here regarding the library, this is only the second person who is unhappy about bringing the issues at this library out into the open.

    I wonder why the two people (or perhaps this is the same person) who think I have cooked this all up on my own don't want to post their names. What are they afraid of?

    I'm also curious - if this person thinks what I write is so reprehensible, why do they follow the blog.

  3. As with the other 2 comments by supporters of the library, I'm struck by the level of defensiveness, and most particularly by the anger in comment above. It makes me wonder what is most disturbing - that others have found a place to voice their views, or simply that other people have a different perspective. In either case, the tone is completely emblematic of the mindset of this library's management team. It's a black-and-white world to them - "either you're for us or you're against us" and we will tolerate no dissent. Anyone with a different view is attacked, just as was done here. No discussion or debate about the issues - just this seemingly blind rage.
    Again, I have to wonder - if it's such a good place, why do it's supporters seem to be such angry people?
    The other striking irony is the comment that those who post here have a "sense of entitlement" and that "the rules do not apply to them." This perfectly captures the mindset of the members of "the club" - the director and her anointed friends. Projection anyone?
    As to the comment that "anyone with a semester of statistical analysis would know that the only conclusions Dottie Mae can reasonably draw from her hit counter is that visits to her site have increased," I would respond that anyone with more than one semester of stats understands what part of a story numbers can tell and which parts they can't. In this case, the stats speak for themselves, but the heart of the stories paint a much deeper and profound portrait. One that this person clearly does not want to see or feel.
    Two of our most critical human capacities, in my opinion, are a "tolerance for ambiguity" - the ability to consider opposing truths and consider them equally valid; and empathy. One can have honest disagreements with the perspectives expressed here; or can say "I haven't seen or experienced that." But I don't believe anyone with a capacity for empathy can read these stories and not at least wonder that maybe something isn't right in this organization.
    But all of this begs what I see as the bigger issue. It seems as if acknowledging that there is even a shred of truth to what has been written here, or in the Google group, would cause the the entire organization, or its leaders, to shatter and crumble - a brittle sensibility that can allow no truth other than its own.

  4. Thank you bc for this thoughtful and eloquent comment. It is the "insiders" and "outsiders" the "us" against "them" mindset and the flash of petulant anger when a legitimate concern is raised that forms a basis for many of the problems at this library. No one has disputed the need for positive change or the success of county wide initiatives put in place by this administration. It is the lack of "tolerance for ambiguity" and "empathy" that is at the heart of the problem. In the end, no change is positive if it leaves a swath of deep pain and fear in it's wake.

  5. Just one more comment. The $600 chairs derided above were recommended by the State as a way to remedy serious ergonomic issues experienced by staff at the library and avoid expensive workmen's comp claims.