The following quote made news this week. I am amazed:
“It’s time for a paradigm shift to one in which public leaders engage with their communities and take action based on the voices of their constituents. (And where communities demand that kind of interaction.) So go, get out there, engage your elected and appointed leaders, and use your voice to impact positive change.”
This quote is taken from “100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries — A New Paradigm for Civic Engagement”, written by Rebecca Fishman Lipsey and “Co-authored by Francine Madera, MADERA inc.” as reported in the Huffington Post on-line. Posted: 01/29/2015 3:53 pm EST Updated: 01/29/2015 3:59 pm EST” 100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries — A New Paradigm for Civic Engagement | Rebecca Fishman Lipsey
The ideas quoted are indeed ‘great’. I am so pleased you have discovered them, but they are not new. No, Ms. Fishman Lipsey and Ms. Madera, what you write about is not a “New Paradigm”, though I do admit each generation comes to the hard, cold truth in their own time. Congratulations! I hope the librarians who read your article do the research they do so well and discover the know-how, in existence for over 30 years, which leads them through this process that, among many other concepts, includes “Civic Engagement”.
Many times have I heard this refrain and for years I have read articles urging librarians to use this or that ‘innovative idea’ to keep libraries fresh and in touch with their communities. I am dispirited that intelligent people do not use common sense! Then I battle incredulity over the fact that such a well-educated and seemingly intelligent group of people can remain so ostrich-like in the face of tried-and-true, long used techniques to achieve success as librarians in their communities.
Why make your job difficult? Why reinvent the wheel? Why not use the body of knowledge passed on to you by your colleagues over generations to help you do your work? Perhaps it’s easier to read about ‘new ideas’ than to do the work of recognizing and adopting the planning process that has led to the success of librarians who have delivered truly brilliant and responsive libraries to their communities.
For years, we and our esteemed colleagues have been guiding public librarians in the process of community building and outreach; preparing them to determine their needs and enabling them to talk effectively to their communities, boards and architects. This process includes Strategic Planning and architectural pre-programming. I will not apologize for saying this even though each generation must come to learn the terminology the hard way. Sometimes a strategic plan is quite simply a strategic plan. If community based Strategic Planning is not done, you will not achieve the type of library specific to your community’s needs. Changing the terminology will not make it any easier to do.
All the issues Ms. Rebecca Fishman Lipsey and Ms. Madera bring up in their article are valid. However all these issues have been around since architects and librarians jointly conceived and built libraries in this modern age. Librarians, please read the vast amount of literature available that guides you, minute by in-depth step, toward a successful library building project. As librarians you have the skills to locate, read, grasp and avail yourself of this information. You have the intelligence and the knowledge to lead your library building project with the full support of your community, lawmakers and users. It is hard, constant, diligent, detailed, attention-demanding work. It is worth it.
The American Library Association (ALA) is open and clear in their support for you and your community to achieve the library that your community needs. The Library Bill of Rights Library Bill of Rights | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues supports all the work needed to achieve not only your library facility but also a satisfied constituency. Architects, Urban Planners, Interior Architects, Landscape Architects and other professional organizations that include the Project Management Institute PMI – the World’s Leading Professional Association for Project Management are resources available to you at every turn, and throughout your project. Use them. Research how these professionals actually do their jobs, you will find that they have the knowledge to support your work.
Sandra Nelson, of Sandra Nelson Consulting , is the author of Strategic Planning for Results and Implementing for Results: Your Strategic Plan in Action, the current Public Library Association strategic planning how-to book. Strategic Planning for Results – Books / Professional Development – Books for Academic Librarians – Books for Public Librarians – PLA Products – ALA Store
To quote Ms. Nelson:
“The Strategic Planning for Results process has been refined by 30 years of public library planning experiences and reflects today’s best practices. The process takes between three and four months and engages stakeholders from the staff, the board, and the community. The final plan describes the library’s service priorities and explains how the staff will measure progress toward meeting those priorities. Creating a strategic plan is just a preliminary step in the real work of moving the library forward.(our emphasis) A plan is of little value unless it is implemented and Implementing for Results: Your Strategic Plan in Action is the most practical tool available to guide your implementation efforts.”
While it may be exciting for each generation to discover a way of making library spaces better for their communities, it still remains that this process takes energy, research, determination, dedication and plain, hard work. No single news release is going to make it easy for anyone but perhaps it will inspire you to do the work that needs to be done. Good luck!
For a concise, easy to read outline of why you will meet success through tried and true, good old Strategic Planning try quickly reading this document by Ms. Nelson: tab_3_handouts.pdf