Providing training opportunities

I’ve got about 30 staff, including casuals, so providing external professional development opportunities for everyone isn’t an option. Mind you, I have a reasonably generous training budget, and manage to send quite a few staff away each year. We’re also taking up LIANZAs training package offer, so all staff can participate. I know training and PD makes staff feel valued, and I want them to grow in skills and confidence.

The solution we’ve come up with is in-house training; we do 2 half day sessions twice a year so as many staff can attend as practical. In a four-hour session we cover a few topics. This coming week Sue will do a ‘tips & tricks in Koha’ session, Pam will refresh their skills with tot time and they’ll have a chance to plan out some sessions they can share with each other. I’ll do a Post-It note session with them about what we want in our new main library.

I’ve also given two staff a 15-minute slot each to talk about what they’re doing in their branch that’s successful, and how they have gone about it. It’s a small group each time so a non-threatening way of learning to present, and it’s good for them all to realise they each have a lot to offer their peers.

If anyone has other ideas for in-house training that’s inexpensive, doesn’t use up too much time, and builds people’s skills – I’d love to hear about it.

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As I started writing, the horrors occurring in the USA were very much on my mind. Then I deleted it and started over. I’ve realised I need more time to process what I’m seeing and hearing before I can say anything coherent, let alone useful. That’s one of the things about deep introversion; I need time to think things through – quick answers are not my forte!

Then I remembered my dear library friend Justin Hoenke (@JustinLibrarian) had asked us to #shareGoodstuff on social media. Sharing good news is a reminder there *is* still a lot of good in the world, and we can each do our bit to keep it that way.

Every year at South Taranaki District Libraries we do the Summer Reading Programme, and incorporate an entertainer into our finale parties. This year we had Adrian Kirk perform his Reading Rocks session. It was brilliant; there’s a strong emphasis on the joy and value of reading, and a great deal of fun and laughter thanks to juggling and a unicycle. I can’t rate him highly enough.

This year more than 400 kids did the programme and the feedback has been great. My staff did an amazing job and I’m so proud of them for the effort they put in. Kids and parents alike have enjoyed it, and the completion rate is high. It’s good to know all those kids are going back to school with a summer of reading behind them.

adrian 1 adrian 2 adrian 3 adrian 4 adrian 5 adrian 6


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Statitics vs perception

I’m the first to admit there are times when I’ve wanted to save a book from weeding just because I like it or think it’s ‘worthy’ somehow. Haven’t we all? Recent news articles about some USA librarians creating fake patrons to borrow books so the books don’t get weeded got me thinking about our own deletion practices in South Taranaki. We use a combination of stats and librarian knowledge, with a base set of guidelines re book age etc.

I spent a lot of time this week delving a bit deeper into our stats, looking at turnover rates for individual collections. I worked out the turnover rate per branch per collection, then the average across the district, and ranked each collection by branch from highest to lowest turnover. Interesting stuff!  

One thing I’ve realised is that what staff say about a collection, and what the stats say, can be *very* different.

 Here’s a couple of examples:

  • One branches staff have said that adult graphics are a bit of a waste of money because they don’t go out. The stats say their branch has the highest turnover rate of adult graphics of any of the seven branches.
  • Another branch was asking for more books in a particular collection because they can’t keep up with demand. The stats say their branch has the lowest turnover rate of all seven branches for that collection and they have 400 title that have not gone out in the last year.

I am not saying they are lying … it’s about our perceptions versus reality.

Where there are simple changes we can do easily, we’re doing them. If a collection is underused in one library and overused in another, we’re shifting x number of titles. For some collections it’s more complicated than that and we’re discussing how to handle it. For example, our main branch needs probably 500 more picture books but is jammed full already while we wait for our new building in about 3 years. We might be able to rearrange some space, or cull a little older material, but really any overly busy collections in Hawera might need to stay that way for now.

The big lesson for me is to take the time and effort to create, then understand, the stats you need; not to rely on perceptions. 2017 is going to be a year of instinct combined with fact-based decisions. If anyone has anything to share re turnover rates, I’d love to hear it.

Holiday programme fun at Waverley with Pam J.

Holiday programme fun at Waverley with Pam J. They made balloon powered land yachts.

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2017 – my year of being prepared

In 2016 my ‘one little word’ was intention. Each year my chosen word provides a focus for me, and the things I want to achieve. ‘Intention’ didn’t turn out to be just the right word somehow; it was ok, but not great. Normally I have the word on my wall, to pull my thoughts and focus back. I didn’t do that in 2016 and I think that is much of the reason it didn’t work out. This year, I’ll be keeping my word on my wall, so it’s always present.

This year I mentioned ‘one little word’ on Twitter and people suggested hope, courage, and strength. They’re all good words, but the one I keep coming back to is “prepared”. It just feels right, and suits both home and work. So, in 2017, I will be PREPARED

  • to give people my trust
  • to have hard conversations
  • for when the architects ask tricky questions
  • to put time and effort into my professional development
  • to let go of the outcomes
  • to listen to what the public want
  • to let go of little goals and focus on the main ones
  • to nurture my staff
  • to put my time committees and working groups
  • to make decisions that might not please everyone

one little word


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And back again

I haven’t blogged since June – dreadful. I spent August preparing, then had surgery at the beginning of September. I’ve been quite sick ever since, but am feeling better now and want 2017 to be a blogging year. Writing helps me think (true introvert) and I’ve missed the connection. As the year draws to a close there are some highlights from my professional life I’d like to record:

  • We’ve chosen Warren & Mahoney as architects for our new library/community centre. In the last week we’ve been able to announce that we’ve purchased the land for the project.
  • Coding Club and Lego Club have taken off. The parents really get into it with the kids, and it builds great connections.
  • We’ve employed a school leaver as a cadet and will be paying for Tyla to do her Level 5 diploma through Open Poly. It’s exciting to be growing our own amazing staff.
  • We’ve partnered with Puke Ariki to bring BorrowBox eBooks and eAudio to our customers.
  • The large tree outside Eltham is regularly yarn bombed and is all dressed up for Christmas as I write this.
  • We’ve had some great speakers, including a local funeral director, breast cancer coordinator and Alzheimer’s advocate, and numbers at coffee mornings and craft groups are growing in some branches.

Probably one of our biggest achievements though, is that we have got through a busy year without major drama. My staff are a fantastic bunch and it’s a pleasure leading them. Here’s to an awesome 2017.


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A pass, and a fail

So, I did #blogjune again. I’d give myself a D- for effort and actual writing, but an A for reconnecting with blogs I love. I blogged more than usual, but nothing like one a day or even once every week day. What I did do was rediscover some great blogs by people whose writing I enjoy, so that’s a huge positive.

 Do I mind failing. Nope, not at all. I’m busy, Tony has shingles; life is wonderful, good, bad and ugly all at once. So I am cutting myself some slack, because that’s what I would do for other people in the same situation. #BeKindToYourself #TryingCountsToo


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This is what matters

Some days are hard, some decisions are hard. But this is why we do what we do. Simple really, isn’t it!

happy kid reading

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All the feels

Some days my heart is more tender than others. Yesterday I wept for Orlando. Today I have wept for all the places in pain that are not Orlando and are going unmourned. I have dealt with staff suffering family issues, and a family member who is sick.

Heart sick? Yes. Productive? Yes. My job is to model the way – and today was about caring but also bringing balance to my life so I work to the full capacity my ratepayer wage demands of me.

On days like today I often look to the Tao te Ching sayings on my wall – one of which is “I am that I am”. What is my “I am”? A caring librarian who won’t let the hate win – for me, or for those around me if I can help it…


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Love, hate & Orlando

I wept as I read this morning’s news, as I checked Twitter during the day, and as I watched the news tonight. I wept from sadness, frustration and anger. There are a couple of things I want to say; probably nothing different to what others are saying but I need to express it anyway.

This was not just a hate crime. It was a hate crime against the LGBTI community. There is a difference and if you can’t see that, then you have never been afraid to kiss your partner in public.

 On the other hand, we can’t lose sight of the individuals. These were not ‘just’ gays. The victims were/are waitresses, nurses, teachers, lawyers, accountants…aunts, uncles, sons & daughters…

This is personal to me on many fronts, and personal in a professional sense too. One of my staff, Cameron, spent a year in the USA studying. Cameron’s gay. (I have his permission to write this) He came home safe, but I can’t help thinking it could easily have been him. And that if something happened to him, the world doesn’t just lose a gay male – it loses a son, brother and uncle, museum archivist, pianist, actor and much, much more.

Today hate robbed people of their lives, families and friends of loved ones, and the world of the awesome potential of each victim. I can’t describe how sad that makes me. Please – reach out with love and acceptance, not hate. One final thought; libraries need to be havens of love and acceptance for all people – are we? #BeKindToEachOther


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Weekend reading

My weekend reading is a mix of semi-leisure (Red thread thinking, Mind maps) and books on communication for a project I’m involved in at work. What’s on your weekend reading pile?

a1 a2 a3 a4 a5 a6


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