I am painfully careful about what I say about my place of work, about the people I work with, about the people I work for. Transparency is all well and good, but so is appropriateness. I work — I struggle — to balance both. And so the image in this post is blurred as artfully as Instagram’s filters will let me blur it, because the content of our internal discussions about values are our own business, and I have not asked for permission to share the discussions. Nor do I want to; frank conversations need to have space to happen, and that space is often private space. And we’re not done yet.
But I’m really pleased, and very proud, and I wanted to gloat a little.
Right now we’re in a deeply transitional space in our libraries. Overall, we’ve lost 30% of our staff to attrition (family crises, promotions, life changes, and new opportunities abound), and the librarian corps has been hit hardest. In our main library, we are now at 50% librarian staffing.
Half. We’re running this library on half. The hiring requests are in, and we’re aiming to have new folks to bolster our ranks and share in our work by fall semester, but for now we have to make it through this spring semester on half.
And we can do it. We will do it. We’re bloody amazing, and we’re going to do it. But we also need a clear vision of what we wish we were doing instead, and why. Because while we know this is unsustainable, there’s little I like less than saying “fix my problem! No, I don’t have a solution to suggest!” I much prefer “I need your help to fix my problem. Here’s my proposed solution.” And we need a proposed solution
So we started doing some strategic planning this week, with the core group of librarians who are are our Half. (I refer to my interns as the Horde, and I think I just accidentally coined my new librarian label. Don’t tell ’em.) We started with a discussion of lived values. What do we believe in? What beliefs do we embody in our work? What beliefs do we value most, and see as highest priorities? Which are we ambivalent about? What would we like to add as additional lived beliefs? What stops us from doing that?
And in the end, 9 priority values rose to the top. This morning I transcribed them to a clean sheet to post on the wall as we start on the next step of our planning, and as I look at the list, I am proud. Those are good values. They’re authentic to this place and these people. They are why we are going to succeed on Project: Half. They are worth being proud of as a base for a community. They describe a place I want to work.
Aren’t I lucky that I do?