I was chatting one day with a friend in another profession who said, "I'm genuinely impressed by the quality of the library's service. Every time I come in, your staff is extraordinary. How do you do that?"
First I gave the glib answer: "We hire smart people." And so we do.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was more to it than that.
A better answer is, "We know what we're looking for, and we try to make it easy for our staff to succeed."
Public employees, as I described last week, are accountable through annual evaluations, and the general oversight of their supervisors.
Elected officials are accountable to the voters. If they prove to be unresponsive, or incompetent, they get voted out of office.
But what about appointed officials? For many members of public boards, there are few performance guidelines, and virtually no way to hold members -- or the body as a whole -- up to those guidelines even if they did exist.
Some people have open faces. Others have closed.
It's the sort of thing you don't even notice until you have kids. You feel it for the first time right there in the birthing room, when all of a sudden you smile the way you probably haven't smiled in decades.
When they're infants, you see all the untrained grimaces and toothless grins. When babies are unhappy, their faces screw up and they wail. When they're happy, it's ear to ear and top of the head to the toes.
Wanted: a library Trustee. Could that be you?
Maren Francis, founder and former owner of the Hooked on Books bookstore, longtime library Trustee, and past President of the Library Board, will be stepping down at the end of this year.