My July visit to Washington, D.C., combined a great DC/SLA Chapter program, several library visits, and a quiet dinner with a friend and mentor.
I began my tours at the U.S. Department of Education, National Library of Education, where I met with Karen White and Pamela Tripp-Melby. The Library has a total staff of thirteen. Director Tripp-Melby works with White on outreach efforts, including presentations on services and resources for the evidence-based research that is conducted across the agency. The Library serves Department employees and the public. A major project is the cataloging of a textbook collection that dates from the 1830’s to the 1940’s and includes 28,000 volumes. This project highlights the extension of traditional library competencies into areas of special collections and digitization. Pamela leads Open Access for the Department of Education, and worked with other Department employees to draft their policy. A challenge in the Ed policy is the definition of research. Much Department funding goes to programming that may or may not produce a scholarly paper. Data and data storage also present unique policy challenges. With no central education data repository, researchers will need to store data in local repositories. Education data includes a significant amount of human subjects data, which must be handled with care.
Turning to SLA, we bridged the open access and data discussion with career opportunities for data librarians. Researchers need people who can manage this information. This is a career development opportunity for SLA and its units. Other emerging careers for information professionals include user experience and information architecture professionals. Indexers and catalogers are re-imagining themselves as metadata specialists. Special librarians have skills and knowledge of organizations that can be leveraged for new career opportunities. Understanding emerging fields and practices is critical, and our conference programming must reflect this content. A shift in our conference planning cycle to a competitive programming model could assist in delivering fresh, broad content.
Late in July I spoke to the Association of American Publishers, Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division (AAP/PSP) in New York City. While in town to discuss scholarly publishing, our work at Los Alamos and developing tools, I had the opportunity to visit with SLA New York Chapter members.
I began my visit at the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), where my fellow SLA Board candidate Tom Nielsen and SLA member Davis Erin Anderson work. METRO is a library membership organization that provides services and training to regional information professionals. In addition to locally produced training and an annual conference, access to external training such as Library Juice Academy and Lynda.com are provided. METRO serves as a regional service hub to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). A METRO project, Culture in Transit, brings scanning equipment to smaller institutions to assist in getting collections online. These collections will eventually become part of the DPLA. Tom and I discussed the role of library organizations in advocacy and advocacy training, both of which are critical to the current and future success of information professionals and centers.
We all have fears. How we acknowledge and work with them has an enormous impact on our leadership style and on our organizations.
Roger Jones, of Vantage Hill Partners, recently published a piece on “What CEOs Are Afraid Of.” Studying CEOs and executives across a range of demographics, Jones found that the number one fear of leaders is “being found to be incompetent.” The impact? Diminished confidence and quality of relationships. Other top fears include underachieving, appearing vulnerable, being politically attacked by colleagues and appearing foolish.
The five top fears resulted in these dysfunctional behaviors: a lack of honest conversations, too much political game playing, silo thinking, lack of ownership and follow-through, and tolerating bad behaviors.
Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? No organization – or family – is exempt. When my own children were going through elementary school, I encouraged them to substitute “I’m learning” for “I’m sorry.” This encouraged an emotional growth mindset and sometimes made admitting mistakes easier. In the workplace silos are frequently built to protect turf and budgets. When people can reach out and build bridges across silos they create more connected and well-run projects.
Jones found several paths for a leader to reduce fear, including being aware of one’s own fears, valuing emotional intelligence, sharing personal stories, and encouraging open and honest communication.
Fears exist. Leaders within organizations need to work with teams to build trust, communication and shared values.
Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence: A groundbreaking work which posits that being emotionally aware, or having a high EQ, can be more critical than having a high IQ in the workplace and beyond.