Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Talent 2.0

Our library is not huge. Our library does not have a giant budget. Our library can not afford to hire a lot of people with elegant educations. You may expect me to write next, our library doesn't shine. I'm very proud to say our library does shine, and shine quite brightly. We have the metaphorical champagne on a beer budget. How do we do it?

Organizational theory talks a lot of resource management. Most administrators interpret that to mean budget management. Money pales next to the most important resource any library has, talent.

All too often, especially in larger settings, bureaucracy creates tidy little job descriptions into which staff are jailed. What this mathematically driven system does not take into account is that human beings are complex creatures with more than one ability. A person may be a whiz at answering reference questions, but what if they can also sew a very convincing Sponge Bob costume? Will the Youth Services Department go without this asset because costuming is not in the job description for reference? Maybe your cataloguer is expert at Microsoft Access. Will he/she be allowed to work on a database for the Circulation people, or will it be more important to protect one's turf?

Our library looks expensive because we have a cataloger doing an RA newsletter, a reference clerk writing music, and circulation clerks putting up displays. Does this make our organizational chart a little fuzzy? Maybe. Welcome to the human race. And I dare you to find a bored KPL staffer!

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director
Kankakee Public Library


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