Monday, May 3, 2010

"Tough Love" Update #6 Fantasy


One of the comments posted recently about the library made an interesting point,
It really is telling that none of the Board or Admin were willing to respond to your blog in an identifiable way--as in, 'I am a Board member, and this is how I see it,' or 'I work in the Admin office, and this is what I think.' Ideally, the director would have responded from her library e-mail address.
Even though I can understand why it would be a problem for board members to post comments because of the rules that dictate their duties and responsibilities, I was hoping the administration would join in the dialogue. One of the anonymous comments to "Tough Love" Update sounded like someone from the administration who was extremely angry about what I have written.

It seems odd to me that none of the people who are completely happy with how the staff is treated by top management at this library have commented. I was hoping to establish a forum for ALL opinions - it wouldn't hurt my feelings if someone disagrees with what I have written. If I have this completely wrong and everyone is indeed happy, feels the library administration is open and accepting of all input, and that no one is afraid of losing their job, please add a comment here. An open discussion is always healthy.

For the past week I have had a fantasy I would like to share. Wouldn't it be lovely if the Library Director would add a comment to the blog that goes something like this:
I have been so overwhelmed by all the big decisions I have to make everyday that I lost sight of how important each and every staff member is to the future of this library. I had no idea the situation was as bad as indicated by what is written here and I am genuinely sorry if my own interactions with the staff and the HR practices I have authorized have made you fearful. I pledge to make changes today that will send a clear message - all of the staff is valued and respected and no one will be harassed or dismissed for speaking out no matter what they say. 
It appears that we just didn't do out homework with the new staff manual and the process was not transparent enough. With the help of the staff, the manual will be revised to reflect reasonable, fair, legal, and compassionate employment practices. In these difficult economic times, I know the staff will put their full support behind this library if they are treated with respect.
Furthermore, I realize I have been out of touch with day to day library operations so over the next two weeks I am going to spend one day in each library and department working side by side with the people on the front lines. I will check in and sort books, deal with problem patrons, shelve holds, clean out book drops, answer reference questions, deliver and pick up book crates, drive the bookmobile, prepare ILLs for shipping, process new books, vacuum carpets, and clean toilets. I won't be there to spy on you or to make you uncomfortable. I want to get to know each one of you and understand the difficult work you do to make this library great.
No matter what happens, I will never again let myself get so out of step with this amazing library staff. With sincere apology and gratefulness for a job well done. 
The Library Director
I can dream can't I?!?!

I posted Update #6 just moments before the director sent a long awaited communication to the staff from the board of trustees. Given the outpouring of interest in this blog and the number of supportive comments from current and former staff the letter is not only insulting it is too little, too late. Without even offering the staff a safe venue for expressing concerns and a respectful consideration of those concerns, the board has reaffirmed their complete support for the director and her toxic management style. I am not only disappointed, I am disgusted!

Please read through the comments to find information about a new staff forum that has been set up where you can continue to discuss this serious situation. I will keep this blog open for comments during the transition.

This is a sad day in the history of this library.


  1. And now we have the "soothing," insulting-to-your-intelligence letter sent to all employees from the board telling them everything is going to be alright; the director is wonderful; everybody loves her, etc.

    Stay tuned, everybody. It ain't over yet.

  2. Hi, Dottie Mae, it's time we stop taking advantage of your hospitality and take matters into our own hands. We've started a group "LibraryLib" on Google that will be an unmoderated, private forum. Please let your readers know that this new forum is available, and please emphasize anonymity for both those interested in joining and the library system as well. Thanks, A Friend.

    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 these forums at work.
    Assume that Admin and/or those sympathetic to them will eventually look at this forum.

  3. The letter to staff from the Board regarding communications from "former employees" is a brazen kick in the teeth. First, many communications have been coming from current employees. Second, the "actions" of appointing a "broadly based staff committee" and the creation of an "Employee Relations Specialist" does nothing more than give the administration new ways to police employees and then quietly or "confidentially" harass them. The concerns people have *respectfully* shared with the Board are not a result of "financial challenges" as their letter suggests. They are a result of willful torment of employees by the administration--the likes of which I have NEVER seen in my 16-year-6-library-system career. NEVER. The Board finds this library a "shining example of how government agencies should be run" and is "grateful" to have such an "insightful and experienced management team." Where am I? North Korea?

  4. Hi, Dottie Mae, thanks for posting the link... we've all become so paranoid I wasn't even sure whether to write to YOU, you, who has really helped us out by speaking out about this and getting the ball rolling. Here's hoping we can keep the momentum going!