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Library Metrics

If your library runs on a fiscal year, June through July, have you prepared your annual report? What library metrics should you provide the Board?  Read on for tips to create an informative report full of the most impactful information.

Digital Checkouts

With the pandemic, digital checkouts have surged in libraries across the country. Provide your stakeholders statistics on eBook, DVD and music downloads. These items along with magazines are the four most popular circulating digital items. Don’t forget to add the new vendors from 2020 or other anomalies to explain large data swings.

Door Count

The number of people coming through the doors has decreased due to the public health situation. Including this number is totally up to you, but it might not be pretty. You could include new partnerships or other outreach metrics in place of the door count. Safe to say, physical visits to the library might never recover if we need to live with Covid long term.

As a leader, you need to begin to get creative about bringing folks back in. Will large public events or annual festivals drive library traffic post pandemic?  Each community is different and finding the sweet spot for public engagement is your job as library director.


What new vendors did the library add or delete?  Please include all the collections to provide an accurate overview of your library’s offerings and impact on the community. I’ve worked in library where DVDs were the number one circulating item. Other libraries had a large children’s picture book collection that drove the checkouts due to higher family populations. Tailor the report and metrics to highlight the collections’ strengths while acknowledging possible gaps.


Programming will be your library’s time to shine. Despite closures, virtual programming has taken off at most libraries nationwide and globally. Edit a bit from a virtual storytime to present during the Board meeting and share how the library was successful.

Be sure to collect data regarding re-shares along with audience size in the initial posting.  Keep a digital archive of the library programs to improve next year. Consider regular promotions of  library programs on social media platforms to reach your potential audience. This will drive customers to the building too.


If you have a choice of format, I’d recommend a simple infographic. Keeping the library information to one page will keep it simple, easy to read, and easy to explain.  Finally, a variety of pictures and statistics also keeps the eye interested and readers engaged.

However, whatever format you choose, keep the report relatable to the average person by avoiding library jargon (like “circs.”) Be sure to have fun reviewing your year. You are the best person to tell the library’s story and advocate in the community. Best of luck!

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Prepare for an Interview

With the pandemic still at the forefront of our lives, interviewing for library jobs are being held virtually. You need to be ready to bring your skills and personality through the screen and get that job!

Research the Job

To prepare for your interview reviewing the library’s website and the job duties is necessary. Topics to be familiar with are the communities the library serves and popular programs. You will have a better understanding of your role if hired too.

Organize your thoughts and bring forward in the interview what you know about the library and the organization. You need to think about what value you can bring with your experience and passion for the job. Have a final few questions in mind. You show the interviewers what you know about their workplace and the time you took to understand the culture and their needs.

Practice your answers

Practice makes permanent, a mentor and teacher once shared with me. Anticipate the interview questions, or at least some of them.  Collaboration stories, rising from a problem or failure, handling public complaints will all be questions you should be prepared to answer.  If you don’t have real-world library experience, provide examples from your volunteer work. Student activities or stories from your personal life, like volunteering, also provide solid examples.

Making your stories personal, concise (no more than 2 minutes per answer) and appropriate for the question, will give you an advantage.  You need to make yourself memorable to the interview panel. The more you practice, the more natural and relaxed you will come across in your interview.

Be yourself

Finally, let your natural personality come through during your time with the interviewers. You are determining if the library and organization are a good fit for your needs, just like they are sizing you up. Ask at least two questions, not answered during the interview. Think about specifically the job, work culture or unfamiliar responsibilities you might need clarifying.

This shows your interest and initiative to understand what the library needs.  Outreach, children’s story times, working with teens are topics you can expand upon once you are aware of the job tasks. Your true self will shine through. Good Luck and just know the library needs you as much as you need this job, so relax and be yourself!

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Library Budgets

Why a budget article in June when the budget is most likely done for the fiscal year?  I want you to think about all the changes and budget shifts likely to come in the next six months. Covid is still present. Therefore, library budgets must be constantly prioritized. Here are some strategies to consider for your next budget process.


Pre-pandemic foot traffic has not come back to libraries. In-person programs are still unsafe in some communities. A library leader must be thinking about utilizing their staff more efficiently, since libraries are in-person services.

You might ramp up virtual storytimes or teen programs. Consider reducing public hours to consolidate your labor budget. The minimum wage has increased in many states, so a shrinking budget is a reality. Get creative to have staff cross train and don’t rehire for vacant positions.

Collection Budget

With Ebooks and streaming movies exploding in use last year, increase your digital collection budget. This means you will most likely need to reduce your physical collection budget. This is a decision not taken lightly, due to access of computers, reading needs, and the demographics of your community. Think this through carefully.

However, taking small steps to increase digital offerings will increase your library team’s efficiency and safety. Ask other like-sized library systems their recommendation to get a feel for what your customers really want and need moving forward.

Rethink Equipment Needs

With the decrease in foot traffic, can replacement equipment be put on hold? Does the automatic sorter really need to be replaced or can it hold out another year or two? Put on your negotiator’s hat and work with your vendor to devise a budget that works for you.

In addition to equipment, think about scaling back on physical book supplies for mending and cataloging. Does the library have an outreach and events team with a budget? Economizing in every area will go a long way to balance the budget for the future.

Extending Library Services

Hear me out on this one. Libraries are unique and every community is little bit different. You need to consider internal partnerships that can share library staff (and salaries) and benefit your town.

This could be homeless services, mobile literacy services or senior care needs. Get creative to devise a plan that will utilize your library and staff and extend the library into the community.

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Library Partnerships

Entering the third year of the pandemic, no one saw the library industry changes coming. With in-person programs and events still uncertain, how do library partnerships evolve?  Read on for tips your team can use to thrive with change. During and after Covid, libraries will need to bounce back and be relevant with programs more than ever before.

Virtual meetings

As the pandemic drags on, your library should be in regular contact with your community partners. Zoom and Teams should be your best friend, to connect with leaders and your stakeholders. School Districts, Civic and other organizations have varying levels of safety protocols. Always error on the side of caution and meet up virtually with your partners.

Keep in touch with mutual goals, benchmarks, or patron data that might need analyzing. “Back to normal” might never happen, so keeping abreast of your partners’ new goals and interests is key right now.

Attend annual events safely

If the virus is not a threat in your community and you can safety attend in-person annual events, do it!  Nothing takes the place of “face time” and meeting with your partners. This also applies to new partners your library was cultivating before the pandemic.

Keeping the pipeline full of potential new partners with similar community goals is vital especially now. Think beyond your normal partnerships and look at new bonds you can form.  Is there a new literacy organization or an arm from the American Rescue Plan that would work with your library’s strategic plan? Now is the time to get creative and seek these groups out.

Seek Out New Partners

Like pre-pandemic, your team will still need to reach out and connect with new schools, faith-based organizations, and other partners. With the building quieter and less foot traffic, meet with internal departments in your city or university to find common ground.

Does the city need a new recreation space or social service? This might be the lifeline the library needs to provide a needed service for the community. Libraries are now providing onsite Covid testing and take-home tests. Don’t leave anything off the table if your library can support a needed service now.

Getting a jump start on new partnerships and maintaining current ones should be library leadership’s priority. It’s never too late to have alternative plans ready if your senior leadership needs the library to expand services. Be ready and be prepared, especially during this time of post pandemic usage.

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Strategic Plans

SWOT analysis was covered in a previous post as the first step in creating strategic plans. If you are new to library planning or directorship, read on for simple tips to get started in strategic planning.

Six Components of a Strategic Plan

The six components needed for a robust library strategic plan are:

  1. A Vision Statement – usually taken from your organization, university, or city
  2. Core Values – your organization adheres too and embodies for your community
  3. Culture and Behaviors – need to be intertwined in the plan from the overarching values
  4. Themes from Data – need to be addressed from focus groups and surveys
  5. Timeframe Established – with deadlines to gauge results and outcomes of the plan
  6. Metrics – to provide feedback and business results for the effectiveness of the plan

Gain Support

Gaining the support of Human Resources and senior leadership is so important. This will enable your library to further explain the “why” behind the strategic plan. Your library will gain valuable partnerships. Furthermore, your success will determine having the backing of HR and your staff to see your vision behind the objectives. You need to start a year in advance with informational meetings with managers and partners involved.


The Library Friends, Board and managers need to have all the information and the projected timeline for the plan. Again, you need to gain support before you invite focus groups or engage with the SWOT analysis for staff.

Your first job is to engage your senior leadership, so they understand the importance of your intended road map. Having an objective for EDI, professional development, community goals is important.

Data Mining

After gaining support and hosting focus groups and surveys, you need to develop a committee to mine the data. You will gain valuable knowledge about needs, wants and goals for your plan. Next, develop objectives, timelines, and metrics for the plan objectives. Taking the necessary time to dig into the weeds is important. Data will be different depending upon the goal and result.

However, don’t let personal interests or “sacred cows” drive the strategic plan. Your leadership is most important here, to establish measurable outcomes that impact your community.

Follow Up and Feedback

Finally, after your strategic plan is approved, you need to implement and measure the results. These last steps are as important as the planning stages. You need to measure your objectives.

Questions to consider:

  • How did new software impact our customers?
  • Was the extra expense in personnel provide improved (and improved) access?  Measure it.
  • What was the outcome of the increased Wi-Fi in the building? Include raw data and narratives.

Again, feedback and results will need to be analyzed for success and moving forward. A strategic plan, especially during Covid, is a fluid document. Remaining flexible is my best advice.

Furthermore, a Library Director needs to have the vision and leadership to handle anything. A strategic plan gives you that roadmap to help lead and plan for the future. Best of luck!

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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!