For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
May 10, 2007 - Board Opening at The Library!
I've served on many boards. Most of them have much in common. They adopt policies. They scrutinize the budget. They hire, evaluate, coach, and compensate (or terminate) the executive who reports to them.
But you know what's uncommon? Boards that take a hard look at their OWN performance.
I had the privilege a couple of weekends ago to sit in on the annual retreat of our Library Board of Trustees (my bosses). Typically, the Board reviews its Long Range Plan to see if we're still on track, or if our plans no longer mesh well with public expectations. The focus is on higher level governance and direction.
They did that this time, too. But not just that.
The Board gave itself some homework first. Each Board member was expected to review the Trustee job description (also created by the Board in previous years), and ask him or herself the following questions:
* What measures would you use to rate the board's effectiveness? How has the Board done against those measures this past year?
* Name three things the Board has done well this past year.
* Name three things the collective Board needs to improve.
After this discussion, the members were asked to do something else: ask the same questions, but this time, of themselves as individuals, rather than of the Board as a whole.
The Board then took the time to talk about their responses. In most cases, both as a board and as individuals, there was validation around the table. In other cases, discussion led to revised judgments.
After that, the Board reviewed all of its resolutions for the past year. Then, the Board took a look at its own attendance: how well had the members done in showing up for important discussions?
Finally, the Board had asked me to gather some comments from senior library staff. How, from that perspective, had the Board contributed to, or detracted from, overall LIBRARY performance?
Too often, I think Library Boards forget that like library materials, buildings, and staff, the Board is either an asset or a liability to the organization it serves.
As I say, I've served on a lot of boards. This is the only one I've seen that puts its own performance up for annual review. And takes it seriously.
It just so happens that the Douglas County Libraries Board of Trustees leads the nation in this respect. In fact, google up "library board assessment." The first hit looks like it comes from Iowa. But when you read the assessment instrument, you get something put together by us -- and grabbed by many other libraries around the country.
Wouldn't you like to belong to a board like that? Well, here's your chance.
The Board has a vacancy. It can only be filled by someone residing in Commissioner District #2, the district of County Commissioner Steve Boand. The district extends, basically, from about Castle Pines North, then heading south and west to the edges of the county.
The Library Board currently has five men and one woman. In the name of gender balance, female applicants are strongly encouraged.
What else is the Board looking for?
* Someone who passionately believes in the importance of library services.
* Someone who cares about, and has a demonstrated commitment to, the vitality of his or her community.
* Someone who has a background in finance, to lend even more strength to what has been, fiscally, a very conservative entity.
* Someone willing to hold every aspect of the organization accountable to the highest standards of excellence.
The term of the current vacancy officially expires in January, 2009. After that, appointments run for 3 years.
If you are interested in applying, please send a letter of interest and resume to:
Board of Trustees
Douglas County Libraries
100 S Wilcox
Castle Rock CO 80104
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send in your information by May 30, 2007. Thank you!