E38 Branch Advocacy Plan

This was an assignment for LIS S553 Library Management

JConrad advocacy plan

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BRANCH HISTORY

The Indianapois Public Library system was founded in 1873, occupying one room in the High School Building, as it was originally a division of the Indianapolis Public Schools. The Marion County Public Library was formed in 1966 and merged with IPL two years later.

The East 38th Street branch began in 1957, in a house on Emerson Avenue. By 1962 a new building replaced the house, and the branch grew to 7,500 ft. In 2003, after 40 years of service, the building was retired, and the library moved around the corner to its current location at 5420 East 38th St. The new building is 16,000 square feet, and the property includes 60 parking spaces. There is a cultivated wetland behind the triangular-shaped building, including 300 butterfuly plants and a boardwalk.

SERVICE AREA

IPL branches are arranged into service districts categorized by area and population size. These categories incude Neighborhood, Community, and Regional Libraries. East 38th St. is a Community library, placing it in the middle tier. Its service area roughly covers the neighborhoods on the east side of Indianapolis between Shadeland Avenue in the East, portions of 30th 21st Sts. in the South, Fall Creek Parkway. in the West, and portions of 46th and 56th Sts. to the North.

The branch’s total base population is 32,289. Those under the age of 18 comprise 22.38% of the population, with 62% between the ages of 18 and 64. 24% of the population has been to college without earning a degree. 37% have earned a highschool diploma, while 18% have not graduated highschool.

With 21.65% of the population unemployed, 24.83% of the service population lives in poverty. 14.78% make less than $10,000.00 a year. 26.4% earns between $10,000 and $25,000 dollars. #0% earn between $25,000 and 50,000, while 14% earn $50,000 to $75,000 dollars.

The foreign-born population is 2%, with half of those immigrating from Mexico. English is primarily spoken by 96% of the population. Spanish is spoken by 3%. Within the service boundaries there are 114 places of worship, 44 schools, and 102 daycare centers.

The Art of Interviewing

This assignment required identifying the top five talent characteristics necessary to perform the job described in a real-world, outdated job listing for the director of a large library system.  Then we were to form five interview questions that might reveal these talent characteristics.  The characteristics were described in the chapter cited below.  Something surprising about this assignment was how few of my classmates tied their selections directly to specific requirements in the description, instead justifying their selections from a general, over-all perspective.  That seemed very strange.

I had a little trouble coming up with five talent characteristics, because the requirements that the first three or so aligned to were repeated so often throughout the ad.  The last one, “achiever: a drive that is internal, constant, and self-imposed,” I chose simply because it seemed impossible that anyone could meet all the requirements of the position without being an achiever. Coming up with interview questions was a problem as well, as I find it difficult to believe that directors, especially those who direct systems of this size, are interviewed in the same manner an assistant or even a department head or branch manager might be.  I had to throw out a lot of obvious questions.  But for this talent characteristic, I might ask, “What’s your greatest professional achievement so far, and what qualities do you possess that helped you obtain it?”

The characteristic that stood out right away was “interpersonal: the ability to purposely capitalize upon relationships,” based on the requirement for someone who is “responsive to member, staff, and community needs, skilled in focusing the efforts of a team of talented professionals.”  That definition of “interpersonal” was eye-opening.  I’d never heard it defined quite that way.  But I think it perfectly encapsulates all the other talent characteristics that could apply to that requirement.  I will never think of “interpersonal skills” the same way again.  But I might ask, “Describe the strategic partnership you struggled most to forge.  Why was it worth the effort?”

Next I chose “vision:a drive to paint value-based word pictures about the future,” based on the requirement for someone who can “establish the strategic vision for the system, aligning its mission with member library needs and priorities.” That’s pretty straightforward.  I might ask, “Describe your experience integrating two or more member libraries’ conflicting needs and priorities into one cohesive strategic vision for the system.”

“Problem solving:an ability to think things through with incomplete data” seems an obvious talent characteristic necessary to interact with any government agency. I might ask, “What problem has been your toughest challenge to solve?”

And finally, the talent characteristic of “desire: a need to claim significance through individuality, excellence, risk, and recognition,” aligns pretty clearly with the requirement that a candidate have the “desire to continue the tradition of excellence and innovation within the system.”  I might ask, “What motivates you to seek this position?”

Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. (1999). Talent: How Great Managers Define it In First, Break all the Rules. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Rules of Engagement

In “Planning for, not Denial of Workplace Conflict,” the authors assert that “Any level of effective supervision requires alertness to the psychological and emotional ambience of a work area and the people therein, with a constant monitoring of the social climate.” They continue, “Each day you work as a supervisor, you establish and reestablish the kind of social culture that directly affects your workplace.” The four “rules of engagement” I’ve suggested below together establish a social culture which acknowledges that conflict is a natural, expected, and often healthy outcome of engaged participation in the workplace. They reinforce a social climate of teamwork, an expectation of mutual validation and support, and provide some general guidelines for keeping personal interactions functional.

Rule 1: Communicate as a team. Co-workers are valuable sources of information. Ask each other questions, and don’t begrudge co-workers who do. Seek verification and validation from each other. Help each other out. No one knows everything. Fill each other’s gaps to make the department a functioning whole. Avoid competing against your co-workers. Keeping information to yourself will hold you back.

Rule 2: Being professional doesn’t require pretending everything is fine when it’s not. Professional is how we manage the times when absolutely nothing is fine. Everyone has bad days, bad weeks, some people have bad lives. Communicate when life is keeping you from handling things the way you would like. Encourage each other, work around problems, work together to get back on track.

Rule 3: Don’t immediately take things personally. Give your co-workers the benefit of the doubt. What you perceive as a slight may be nothing more than differing communication styles or someone else’s bad day. You have faults. Everyone else does too. Let’s all let each other be human.

Rule 4: Be inclusive, discourage breaking up into smaller subgroups, avoid favoritism. Be careful with the line between professional and personal socialization. Obviously, romantic relationships at work come with a whole host of complications and should be avoided. But friendships that cross over to one’s personal life can just as easily complicate professional dynamics, throughout the whole team not only between friends, especially when positions of authority or seniority are involved.

Despite Wilkinson & Wilkinson’s surprise at the fact that “the graph approach to conflict has engendered very little published interest in librarianship,” related in their article, “Plotting Conflict,” the lack of interest in this management style is little surprise at all. What good are data and statistics when the accompanying article relating them is dry enough to make one’s eyes bleed? No one will read about it, let alone put the method into practice. Though I can see the benefit of matching management style to professional maturity, similarly to the benefit of matching communication styles suggested in the “Planning for…Conflict” article referenced above, you will not find the graph approach to conflict management reflected in my workplace “rules of engagement.”

Cook, E.I. & Montgomery, J. G. (2005). Planning For, not Denial of Workplace Conflict. In Conflict management for libraries: strategies for a positive, productive workplace. Chicago: ALA.

Wilkinson, M. A. (1997). Plotting Conflict. Library Administration & Management, 11, 205-216.