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Special Interest Group Archive: /Leadership SIG 7/19/23

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.


Middle Management:

Mix of people who are looking to become top management, and happy to stay where they are. 

There is a difference between being a good leader and being a good administrator. It's rewarding to be a mentor and to show the things you have learned over the years. 

What would make you leave? As a middle manager, you are constantly translating between the team and the boss. To have everything be all your responsibility seems scarier. So many directors say that they want to be a librarian again because they don't have the training to be a director. Leadership development programs are few and far between, or very intensive. Sometimes you just need basic policy training. One academic librarian looked to HR for help, but they were short-staffed, so all they had was a PowerPoint to share. 

You want the clerical staff to feel supported and valued, which can be in conflict with following the specific job descriptions in civil service or in the union contract. Thinking about the person versus their job description helps them figure out where to move them. 

The director can't always be the voice of the staff. Being a middle manager can give you that kind of relationship beyond just getting a raise and power. 

One of the public librarians works at a place where they only have part-time civil service jobs. They can't be changed easily and can take months. Just supervising a handful of part-time people can be a lot of work. They want to get more full-time because there's so much turnover. At that level, you're either getting brand new employees or people at the end of their careers, not professionals who are mid-career and want to stay. Full-time pay and benefits is the sticking point, even though the turnover is costly.

NYLA leadership academy - classes on topics and theory and not much on experience. There's a cohort model now with a final project. A better model is going back to college to learn HR or Administration. 

There are a lot of director positions open at the moment: 

  • retirees 
  • commuting time
  • work/life balance

You need experience, confidence, the ability to be stressed, and feel responsible for the staff you manage.

Living close to work is great when you can cut the commute and can come in during emergencies and bad weather days.

Employees who have been working in a toxic environment have trust issues and might have banded together against a common enemy.

Salary matters, and sometimes people with seniority are making more than the directors. There's a lot asked for people who are not being paid as much as other administrators. Public library boards don't understand the realities of pay scale standards. 

If you have employees who go above and beyond and spend extra hours after the scheduled hours - you create unsustainable expectations. There's the expectation of the public, and some from the donors. 

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065