career Library Leadership

SWOT Analysis


S.W.O.T. Analysis in business is an important road map to keep an organization on track to achieve goals. What about nonprofits, like libraries, how do you create a simple S.W.O.T. analysis to help plan? Read on for a framework and effective ideas to get you started.

S.W.O.T. Analysis Provide Gaps

The first step in any project or plan is determining the gaps in where you need to go versus where you are now. Simply stated, performing a gap or S.W.O.T. analysis will help determine the course of your plan. Questions to ask your leadership team are:

  1. What are long term goals needed to achieve?
  2. How will the organization get to the results?
  3. What are the strengths of the organization?
  4. What are the threats to achieving those goals?

Furthermore, these simple questions, asked of your senior managers, stakeholders, and community partners will set the stage for the next step. Interviews and focus groups also help facilitate healthy conversation and generate new ideas from many areas.

Analyze the Feedback

Take the data from your analysis and mine for common themes. Data, along with the feedback from those involved in the plan will form the framework. Having a few key stakeholders or small committee that can enact the plan, should be the data miners.

In addition, these folks know the limitations of the organization and the resources available. Gain political support, if resources are tight. This helps you determine a draft plan to help with potential initiatives and outcomes.  However, no idea is out of the question, so get creative using the feedback.

Write it Down

When the direction of the analysis is determined, then mangers need to decide on objectives and strategies to create a map for the results. Sometimes this looks like a laundry list of items to check off.

And other times, the plan is inspirational and carries work culture themes, morale and development goals. The beauty of a SWOT analysis is that no one, is the same. You determine the course along with your stakeholders.

I’ve worked for libraries and businesses with 32-page plans and others with 2 pages of step-by step-needs. There is no perfect length or format.

Create Deadlines

Finally, the results need to have a timeline. Even inspirational plans will have objectives to meet the goal of increasing morale. For example, by December 2022 the team will have published and approved a “Culture Code” of respectful behaviors for our customers and colleagues. However, defined deadlines and goals are more likely to be achieved if people are held accountable.

Finally, it’s up to you as a leader to determine what needs to happen and what will work for your organization. Start the year off right and start formulating a strategic plan  from your SWOT analysis for your work group. Look for the next published article for more details on an effective library strategic plan.

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Library Leadership

Library Schedules

If you are new to managing employees or unsure how to handle your team’s schedules with pandemic restrictions, read on for some tips to help navigate library scheduling.

Plan Holidays and Vacations

Most organizations will need some notice if extended time away from work is requested by an employee. Some workplaces even have minimum timelines for these requests to be approved.  The farther out schedules are, the easier unexpected situations are to address.   Using a spreadsheet or scheduling software, develop a template. Figure the minimum staff needed to work at customer service positions at the library.

With your minimum staff number in mind, map out six to eight weeks of schedules inputting vacations, programs, and time off. Use remaining staff available to develop your desk schedule to serve the public. Keep in mind your customer foot traffic will be less due to Covid closures.

Rotating Staff

If your library is small or has only one service desk, scheduling can be simpler. If your library has multiple floors or has a spacious floor plan, then two or even more service points are the norm. Does your library have a dedicated phone line or does the entire staff answer the phone as needed? Another service point, in the call center, requires scheduling attention.

The recommendation is to rotate professional librarians and paraprofessionals between all service points for seamless customer experiences. Leadership roles should also consider covering public service points, to promote cross training opportunities. In addition, this increases empathy for your team’s interactions with the public too.

Resolving Concerns

Any manager has fielded complaints about the schedule “not being fair.”  This is the time to pull out your negotiating skills and leave policy to provide the best answers for scheduling decisions. Employees may not understand about staffing levels, unexpected sick time or prep for programs. Furthermore, being as consistent as possible with every employee is the best method to address conflicts and accusations of favoritism.

Finally, employees love time off the service desk, and managers need to provide a fair and equitable schedule to assist customers and staff.

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Career Mentoring for Success

Being a mentor or getting mentoring advice will help your career success in many ways you might not realize. Here are a few reasons  why putting yourself out there to provide advice to a colleague helps you and your mentee. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a mentee is “one who is being mentored a protégé.”

Job Satisfaction

Studies have shown that sharing your job knowledge and leadership experiences gives you a more satisfied feeling in your  role. Furthermore, we feel good when we have mastered a skill. We feel even better when we can share that with others. Mentors show commitment to their profession and their teams. Sharing  a bit of ourselves and our experience broadens our relationships. A trusting mentor/mentee relationship is invaluable for job satisfaction.

Succession Planning

When you receive mentoring from a leader or another colleague you are learning valuable lessons from a seasoned employee. Someone who has already been through an experience or solved a particular issue. This creates a great learning opportunity to gain knowledge and have exposure to real-world examples. These topics you might never even know existed, if not for your mentor. Like the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Hearing and learning firsthand from a mentor are valuable ways to expand your toolkit for heading up the career ladder and in turn assisting your organization’s leadership.

Additional Exposure

For men and women mentoring gives an opportunity to show your company what you’ve got to offer and can open additional opportunities for your career growth.  Professional conferences, industry memberships and networking events can all be a form of mentoring or passing on valuable experience to help others in your industry. With travel opening more, considering a more formal platform to share your skills and experience with others.

Not able to travel? How about a more organic platform to mentor colleagues and share your experiences openly. I remember a roundtable of community stakeholders that would assemble once a quarter to discuss current business trends. This group discussed challenges and upcoming concerns others might not be aware of. This was a group method of passing on important information while keeping our networks active. While not as personal as one on one mentoring, connections were made and relationships were forged during our gatherings four times each year and continue today.

If you have an idea on a mentoring strategy let me know. We all should be sharing and learning!

Librarian & Entrepreneurship Library Leadership

Digital Marketing in Libraries

The internet and digital marketing have advantages for libraries. Read on for a couple of tricks to increase your library’s exposure and customer base. Libraries are here to stay, and social media will help bring customers back into the building.

Social Media

It’s a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram driven world. This means that marketing your library on these social media platforms is essential. That’s true for any business. Post pictures of programs, customers, and be sure to use hashtags every post. Post photos of the building, bookstore, and community events at your library. Keep up with various literary events such as Banned Books Week or National Library Week.

Email Marketing

Set up a mailing list and then blast out newsletters and other information to teachers, legislators, and other local officials. Customers need to be reminded the library is in the community.  Furthermore, reach out to new customers interested in various events at your library. Grow those customers and sign them up for a library card!

Use Videos

A picture is worth a thousand words, and photos sell. We live in a video-saturated world.  Make short videos about the programs at your library.  Storytimes and children’s programs have the biggest audiences at libraries, so publicize the most popular.

When doing this or taking pictures, it is important to use a proper high-quality HD-capable camera. With all the images we encounter in our daily lives now, we are quite good at telling HD from non-HD photos. The latter are now judged as inferior by default. Go for the quality and make an impression.

Event Marketing

What’s the next big event that you’re hosting at your library? Whatever it is, you want to use that to market your library big time. What’s more, you need to make sure that as many people know about it as possible. Use the tools above, employ flyers and banners, advertise to schools, and use other traditional event planning measures to get as much exposure as possible.

All this and more can help you get your library the publicity it needs and deserves


career Librarian & Entrepreneurship Library Leadership

SWOT As A Tool

Do you need a tool to determine next steps for your career or maybe another big decision in your life?  Ever wonder how data can help you make decisions? Read on for the steps in creating your own S.W.O.T. analysis and why it is an important tool.

Strengths and Opportunities

A simple S.W.O.T. analysis uses four metrics, using available information about your project or decision. The four components are: S=Strengths, W=Weaknesses, O=Opportunities and T=Threats.  Strengths and opportunities are seen as the positives for a decision or project.

If you’re making a career move, a strength of yours would be flexibility in moving for a job. An opportunity would be your strong negotiating skills, to help you find your next job. Anything which will help the cause is your strength and an opportunity to achieve your goal.

Weaknesses and Threats

On the other hand, weaknesses and threats hinder your pursuits. Using a career move as the same example, a weakness is your inability to relocate for a job. A threat might be a poor job market in your desired location. Using a SWOT template, you list the information you’ve gathered. You would then analyze your career needs and the possible steps to move toward your goal. To sum it up, it’s a pros and cons list for situations, decisions, or projects.

Why S.W.O.T.

S.W.O.T. analysis tools are used to develop strategic plans, gain stakeholder feedback, and provide data for decisions.  In the library strategic plans I’ve developed, S.W.O.T. templates, focus groups and surveys were used to create and implement plans.  I’ve also seen interviewees use S.W.O.T. analysis to help “sell” themselves during a recruitment. Again, information that is data-driven will add value to a decision or project. Being knowledgeable in developing a S.W.O.T. analysis for your next project or committee will add value.  You will also have the data to back up decisions.

Take some time to determine if a S.W.O.T. analysis will help you and then check out the various templates to make the job easier.

career Library Leadership

Productive Meetings

During this time of hybrid and remote work, meetings whether virtual or in person, are vital for healthy team morale. Productive communication from you and senior leadership is so important to share information and gather employee feedback. Keep the following tips in mind when holding your next staff meeting.


 Host meetings if there is important information to be distributed that cannot be shared via email or phone. To hold a meeting just because, really is not a sufficient reason. So, be sure employees are aware of the agenda, and send it out 24 hours ahead of your meeting. 

Furthermore, if you’re hosting a guest speaker also include their contact on the email reminder and an agenda. If the meeting is a brainstorming session, be specific of the intended outcomes. Before the meeting begins, provide employees context. Enable the team to prepare their thoughts beforehand. No one likes to waste time. Set the stage for expectations with a meeting agenda for the best results.

Online meetings

While easy to attend, virtual meetings lack the social interaction and networking that in person gatherings provide. If your organization’s meetings are mostly virtual, establish parameters for video and audio use.

For example, will all attendees be expected to have cameras ON but muted audio unless speaking? Be sure staff are aware of the expectations. How should attendees dress? Should audio be muted? It’s difficult to gauge an audience virtually, so ask your questions multiple times for various responses. Be sure to monitor the chat function to ensure no question is unanswered. Also check throughout the meeting for raised hands. 

Note Taking

A short review of what was shared via email is important after the meeting. Some employees might not have attended, or contacts and links were shared that staff need to complete a task. Having information written down is important for effective communication and accuracy. Rotating the note taking responsibility among your team or designating one person each quarter is a solid strategy. It’s also an excellent professional development tool for your team.

Virtual meetings have the option to be recorded, which makes note taking even easier. Whatever method used, be consistent and your communications and meetings will run smoothly every time.

Library Leadership

Libraries and Programming

We have lived through the last two years in pandemic mode with many changes including library services. We have seen service models change and new programs emerge. The needs of communities are at the forefront of these changes, along with health and safety. So, what do programs look like now, with COVID-19 and health risks still in the foreground for many libraries? Let’s look at some successes.

Programs Outdoors

If you are lucky to live in a climate where in-person library programs can be held outside, patrons can have a new service model outdoors. Customers enjoy storytimes, school-age crafts, or book clubs social distanced for safety. However, programs are very engaging. If your climate is too warm or snowy, then an alternative has been a hybrid format. Producing online programs streamed via Zoom or prerecorded. This has become popular with many libraries.

Prerecorded Library Programs

Other libraries have great success and attendance with recording programs and posting the links. Posting within a Facebook post is also a great way to host a pre-recorded program. The advantage of prerecorded story times is easy editing and a way for the librarian to overcome nerves. Having your program recorded allows the flexibility to fix mistakes before posting. The link is available to update easily as your library changes. Plus the needs of your audience will change too.

Online Library Gatherings

Finally, many public libraries have adapted to all online programs due to funding constraints or public health concerns. Whether prerecorded or live every week at a predetermined time, virtual programs are the safest way to provide literacy and learning to a community. However, the downside is the staff’s reliance of a live audience for immediate feedback.

You also must have a team that has the skills and technology available to produce engaging library programs. Your library staff will need to have a solid handle on the audience they’re serving and the devices available. Have a reliable solution available if technology fails. Furthermore, bandwidth might be an issue and  would be a burden for your library users during online programs. Be sure to have solid solutions in place for every hiccup that could happen.

Library Leadership

Plan A Training Day

Organizations especially libraries have long held day long or half day training days. Closing for one day provides a much-needed break for employees to learn and network. Here are a few simple ideas to get your staff training day off the ground.

Have A Plan

If your library will be closing for the day, or celebrating National Library Week, the learning objectives need to be spelled out. Will you be teaching safety polices, new technology or providing an opportunity to hear a  speaker ? Planning a training day, your organization will guide the learning outcomes. Some constants will always remain the same. Food and staff participation are two of the most important that need to be considered when planning your day together.

Staff Involvement

The best method is to include the entire team to set up committees at least six months in advance of your training day. Subcommittees allow all employees to be included in the decisions of the entire day and plays to the strengths of everyone involved with the planning. Spreading the planning among many of your team, also allows professional development for every level of employee.  Allowing all staff to participate in planning also provides valuable buy-in to the day’s activities and successful outcomes.

Food and Fun

Providing meals or even snacks is totally up to you and the budget. Would the Library Friends group be willing to donate food for staff day? Could every staff member bring something for a continental breakfast or easy lunch? Having food and beverages available for your team makes a huge difference, so get creative if your organization will not allow you to purchase food items.

Also include a fun activity that builds your team morale. Are you creating art together, making a bridge from marshmallows, or playing 20 questions while roaming the room? Plan something enjoyable to do as a team to bring everyone together even for 30 minutes. Planning a staff day will be beneficial for your work group in many ways and taking the first few steps is very easy!

career Librarian & Entrepreneurship Library Leadership

Libraries and Entrepreneurs


Many people dream of becoming entrepreneurs. They look forward to being in control of their own destiny and love building a career. Entrepreneurs are motivated and driven, and they aren’t afraid of hard work. The question is, where can you find resources to help get started? The answer is your local library!

Libraries Provide Access 

There are many research and reference tools for entrepreneurs at public libraries. Online tools that would cost a fortune if you had to purchase them yourself are free. Libraries have resources such as Reference USA, Regional Business News, and Business Source Premier for free.  These databases normally would cost thousands of dollars to access. Public libraries allow free access anytime with a library card and computer. Check to see if your city has multiple library systems, to access different subscriptions from each library. 

Free Patent Information

Checking out a patent or idea before moving forward is an entrepreneur’s first step. It is important to make sure that someone else doesn’t hold a trademark or patent on your idea. Libraries provide patent check resources and trademark information for free. This way, an idea is vetted before investing heavily.  Avoid legal problems down the road by checking out your idea. 

Check Out the Competition

Researching your competition before you start your business is also important. Entrepreneurs want know everything about potential competitors.  Furthermore, the library offers free information on marketing, demographics, and sales volume for the competition. Information that is invaluable for your idea to be successful.  The Reference USA database is the best source to help you gain an edge with your own company.

Raising Capital

Finally, raising capital in any business is essential. You will need to find investors or angel funders.  Libraries have all the information you need to begin the search. You will find resources and people to help you create a pitch, a logo, and more. You can find ideas on how to name your product, and you can learn how to speak in public. Finally, you can learn how to approach investors and sell them on your idea. The public library should be the first stop for any start up, and all the information is free!  Best of luck on your new venture.

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Goal Setting

Goalsetting is a useful tool to guide your career in any industry, especially in libraries. Read on for tools to help in setting goals and developing your career plan for future growth. With work- place cultures changing due to COVID, realigning your goals now might be right for you.

Gap Analysis

A standard gap analysis determines your current status, and where you’d like to end up.  The gap or what’s missing is in the middle. Does this gap need to be filled with education, another job, increased salary, or a new geographic asset? Only you can determine what is the most important factor and how to obtain your goal. Having your plan benchmarked with SMART goals and establishing a plan to close gaps will get you there. Smaller goals should build upon one another to fill the gaps and ultimately help you achieve your main career objective.


Finding a trusted mentor you can rely on will help in your career plan. Finding more than one will help even more, especially if a few are outside of your industry. Jobs and careers are made with relationships and connections. Networking and finding mentors might be a little more difficult with more industries working remotely. However, volunteering for service events, attending conferences, and adding value in your current job, position you as a leader. Mentors are drawn to natural leaders, so just ask if you feel a connection with a colleague. The more genuine connections you make with people, the more likely you will find someone to help you.

Use LinkedIn

Finally, use LinkedIn and use it a lot. If your partner’s career dictates your geographic location and possibly your career goals now, then pivot.  What I mean is, what smaller achievements can you accomplish which will help you get toward that larger career goal.  Think about teaching, volunteering, or shadowing someone in your desired industry or job.  Anything to make yourself more valuable to a future employer will help you in the long run. To overcome a geographic obstacle be sure to link with colleagues in your desired location.  You never know what opportunities might open or when you might make a physical move.

Having a career plan is a way to keep your goals on track, yet flexible for life. Especially with the pandemic having families rethink priorities, having a career plan in place will make you feel more in control of your future.  Best of luck!