June 2015 | Volume XXXIII, Issue 3 »

My Turn: Internal Customer Service—How We Treat Others

June 1, 2015
Sharon B. Wiseman, Gail Borden Public Library District

What a wonderful field to be part of for forty years! Along with holding positions at several libraries, I have been fortunate to have taught for thirteen years at Dominican University and consulted with many folks in libraries for twenty years with Wiseman Consulting & Training. There have been many changes in the library field since I started and yet some things remain true, such as how we treat others. 

We have a wonderful staff here, and we want them to feel acknowledged and appreciated. We also want to satisfy their desire to know what is going on in their organization. A common complaint in libraries is that “no one tells me what is going on!” People want to be “in on the changes.” And that means being informed and included in the decision-making process. I don’t think you can communicate or involve others too much. Here are some things that I believe have helped at the Gail Borden Public Library.

The library’s information flow begins with the monthly library board meetings. The day after the meeting, our Executive Director, Carole Medal, meets with our staff for “Coffee with Carole.” Carole explains actions the board has taken and how these will affect staff as well as other projects. She also answers any questions. A Fish Award for the Main Library and Muskrat Award for the Rakow Branch are given. The awards are chosen from staff nominations of co-workers who have been caught “making a difference.” All nominations are later posted for everyone to see.

Not everyone can attend these sessions, so “Coffee with Carole” is streamed via Google Hangouts so that employees at the Branch can watch live. Also, the information from “Coffee with Carole” is summarized and sent to all staff via electronic newsletter. One of the most popular features in the newsletter is “Guess the Secret Library Person,” which is entertaining and helps with staff learning about other staff.

Bulletin boards are used to update staff including one for the Staff Association and a new Health and Wellness Committee. These two groups add fun and get us together as a community. 

Weekly Cabinet meetings with the Director, Deputy Director, and five Division Chiefs help to keep the information flowing. The Library Leadership Team, consisting of managers and the Cabinet, meets monthly. Information flows both ways at these and monthly meetings.

We also encourage professional growth as another way to acknowledge, appreciate, and support. We offer attendance at professional meetings and conferences, webinars, professional memberships, and tuition assistance. Staff members get to share what they have learned from conferences at a program called “Pathways to Learning.” We made sure all staff had multiple opportunities to contribute to our recent strategic planning process, including a session at the library-wide staff day. 

These are some of the ways that we can acknowledge, inform, and involve our staff members, our library’s most valuable resource. It is not perfect and it never will be, but they are steps in the right direction.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions; better yet, come and visit sometime.

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