This past Wednesday I had the privelege of attending the one year reunion meeting of the Southern California area Eureka Fellows. The Eureka Leadership program is sponsored by the California State Library as a means of developing future library leaders. Eureka Fellows are selected through competitive applications process for a year-long leadership development process that starts with a 5-day intensive leadership institute followed by completion of a major grant-funded project over the course of the next year with opportunities for mentoring and follow-up coaching along the way. I had the privilege of serving as a mentor for the first cohort of Eureka fellows a year ago, and Wednesday's event was the culmination of their journey. PVLD was also fortunate to have two staff members - Branch Manager Jennifer Addington and Circulation Manager Eve Wittenmyer - selected as Eureka Fellows.
On Wednesday the participants gave presentations on their projects to their Library Directors and the Eureka facilitators. I was blown away by both the quality of the work they have done and the marked development in their confidence as leaders. I knew last year that this was a special bunch of people, and seeing them at the end of the Eureka process reinforced just how special they all are. The future of libraries is in very good hands!
Apart from the pride I felt watching the presentations, every single one of them gave me a new idea or inspiration. All of these presentations should be up soon on the Eureka blog soon, but here are some highlights -
- Irma Morales of the Orange Public Library reported on her project to capture the history of the barrio where her branch library is located. As part of the project she hosted a day-long event where community members were encouraged to share photos for addition to the local history collection, learn about little-known parts of the community's history such as the role it played in desegration of Mexican-Americans, and share their experiences. What a great way to involve the community in developin local history resources!
- Thea Blair of the Mission Viejo Public Library talked about her project to install a low-vision reader and adaptive workstation for the visually impaired to meet the needs of her aging community. I had never thought of reaching out to the Lion's Club as a partner to help us serve the visually impaired, but when Thea reminded us of their interest in vision issues it made perfect sense....
- Robin Isaacson of the San Diego County Public Library named her project "Words Gone Wild" and talked about how she is using a new online catalog interface to as she put it "free cataloging information from the constraints of the MARC record" and allow people to search the catalog in ways that make sense to them. It was a great articulation of why the whole concept of "social cataloging" is important.
- Our own Eve and Jennifer reported on their "Culture Quake" project to transform PVLD's customer service. For me the eye-opener was how much they've accomplished without me even really knowing what they were up to! I'm looking forward to seeing the customer service wiki that they have in development.
- Cheryl Eberly of Santa Ana Public Library gave a moving and inspirational talk about her "Circle of Mentoring" project that connects at-risk youth with adult mentors, and also gives the youth the opportunity to mentor younger kids.
- Amanda Schukle of San Diego County Public Library described her project to give librarians data and tools so they can create Customer-Driven Collections. Amanda has a way with words and I loved her "Dump the Junk" weeding report and "Bang for Your Buck" collection turnover report.
- Patricia Rivera of Buena Park Library District went first and gave an amazing presentation of how her "Library Lures Latinos". She has done a great job of engaging staff in reaching out to the Latino people who make up a significant part of Buena Park's population. She had lots of quantitative data to demonstrate the resulting increased library usage by Latinos, but to me the biggest indicator of success was the story she told of a staff member who used to get frustrated about the hesitancy of Latino patrons to speak to staff, until she herself went to the "Spanish for Non-Spanish Speakers" training for library staff and realized how difficult it is to use a language not your own.
- Cara Vera of Rancho Cucamonga described her library's participation the the City of Rancho Cucamonga's "Healthy RC" initiative. It was a terrific example of the library adapting its existing resources to position itself squarely at the heart of something important to its community. It also gave me an idea about our library taking the lead to develop a "Healthy PV" initiative.
- Christina Wainwright of San Diego Public Library's project was to use library programs to build long-term relationships with community members instead of "one night stands" where people enjoy a program, but then that's it until the next one they come to. Her goal is to use library programs to create bonds both between attendees and with the library. She described her successful "Monday Night Meetup" program where people give "speed book reviews" in "speed dating" format, and then those reviews spark conversations and connections. She also described how she now evaluates each program in terms of both the level of interactivity between participants that it fosters and the degree to which is anchored to the library's core services, and aims for programs that offer both as these are the ones that foster long-term relationships. Christina transformed how I am going to look at our PVLD programs in the future.
- Susan Broman of the Los Angeles County Public Library talked about her "Get Up From Behind the Desk" project to encourage and support local efforts to provide adult programming - no easy task in a massive, complex, and tradition-bound library system! Susan has a talent for developing tools that help librarians do things better and more efficiently, and I have know via my husband, and LA County Community Library Manager, that she is having a major impact and helping transform the entire Adult Services culture at LACPL. Her staff "What Are We Reading" blog also gave an idea for a similar blog that our staff could write for the community.
- Polly Cipparone of San Diego County Public Library has developed a "The Future is Now" wiki for staff to share information about change initiatives in her library system. I thought the idea of allowing employees to post questions and comments anonymously was an great non-threatening way to allow people to engage in the change process.
- Jeannie Kays of the Palm Desert Library (Riverside County Library System) has developed a staff training program that is a model for other libraries. It has 6 core modules that are repeated every quarter so everyon has a chance to attend. Training is done by staff volunteers and ranges from Beginning Reference for Non-Reference Staff to Frequently Asked Reference Questions to Using Microsoft Publisher to Create Flyers". I think we may just steal her work!
- Genesis Hansen of Newport Beach reported on her project to use customer input to drive design of the new library website. Apart from the very useful content of her presentation, which included examples of how staff perceptions of customer needs can be off base, Genesis had an amazingly crisp and succinct presentation...she also managed to make great progress on her project despite taking time off in the middle of it to have a baby! I was also pleased that she shared information about her blog, Wrong Again which will now be part of my regular reading.
- Last but not least Andrea Taylor of the Fullerton Public Library presented her "One City One Source" initiative to reach out to city staff and educate them about library services. She used meetings with each city department to tell them about the library and sign them up for library cards. This is something we really need to do with our local cities...since we are independent of them they really don't know much about what we offer.
You can see why I was exhausted and exhilirated when I got home on Wednesday night... and why I didn't hesitate to say yes when asked to be a mentor again this year!