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Jessalyn Rowlee

LIBS 325
Unit 5 Evaluation 2
Managing Personnel in a Small Public Library
For this assignment I contacted Julie Billings, director of the Silver Bay Public Library. I have worked in the Silver Bay Public Library (SBPL) for the past six years and
have gotten to know Julie and the staff at SBPL very well so I found this interview to be
very interesting. I was not able to meet with Julie in person due to distance, but I
thought this assignment would be most beneficial to me in a library where I have spent
a great amount of time. Julie and I discussed managing personnel in a small public library setting through various emails. We generally keep in contact through email
throughout the school year when I do not get to the public library as often. Throughout
our conversation we discussed the problems and joys of managing staff, evaluating
personnel, managing with administrators, and managing each group of users (children,
young adults, adults/seniors).
Julie has had a great time managing staff and mentioned that the SBPL is small
enough (four employees) to feel more like a family. She does what she can to build confidence in learning about new technology and changing procedures. She said, as we
continue to learn time and time again, that communication is key. She holds staff meetings when a knew software or hardware is available to teach the staff the new thing in
house rather than sending people away. The small staff allows for a tighter knit group,
but also requires more strict scheduling efforts. Staffing the open hours is sometimes
difficult with only four staff, but the budget does not allow for more staff. I thought it was

interesting that Julie mentioned many of the things that our book mentioned. For example, our book says,
the librarian is also responsible for helping staff prepare for advances in technology; learn about additions to the collection, such as new databases, implement new services, such as laptops or other communication devices for loan to
students; and develop new relationships with agencies outside the school (162).
Julie mentioned each of these parts during our conversation and was very insistent that
each was important to managing staff. One part I noticed that our book and Julie didnt
agree on was the job responsibility assignments. Our book suggests that responsibility
assignments are needed in order for the library to run smoothly (163). Julie mentioned
that she does not truly segregate duties because of the small staff. She cross trains
everyone on nearly all tasks because of the small staff size. Typically, staff members do
the tasks that they enjoy most, and tasks are taken care of in the family that has been
created. In my experience at the library, I have noticed that tasks get taken care of ninety-nine percent of the time; however, maybe if tasks were assigned, as our book suggests, it would be easier to get everything done without missing things.
Once again, as evaluations came up, Julie mentioned the importance of communication. She said that even she gets nervous about performance evaluations because
it is not something that people are naturally comfortable with. One problem she mentioned in evaluating personnel is that if there are issues, the evaluations only take place
once per year. She has had very few problems with evaluations, but three unpleasant
times did come up. Julie mentioned that you must document, document, document any
big problems in order to change the problem. While reading our textbook I noticed that

it makes similar comments about documentation. Our textbook states: Dismissal requires a carefully documented record of the tasks done incorrectly or not done at all. It
is not a pleasant assignment, yet it is irresponsible to allow inefficient, ineffective, and
even harmful employees to remain (169). Therefore, as awkward or unpleasant as it
may be, documentation is critical to keeping the library running as it is expected to be
Next, we talked about managing with administrators. Julie mentioned that one
difficulty in managing staff is to make sure the staff, city officials, and the city administrator are not comparing themselves with other city employees. She then further explained
that most things can be standardized within city departments, but the public libraries are
set apart in the Minnesota state statues, which gives them exclusions and exceptions
from the other departments that are employed by the city. Through our discussion it
seems that the only thing that can really be done to fix this is to simply remind people
when they might be thinking something different. She mentioned that one of the joys for
working for the City of Silver Bay is being in a small town where the city administrator
and elected officials support the library wholeheartedly. They have a balanced budget
each year from the citys general fund, which allows the patrons of the library to use it
without noticing any cuts in services. This does mean that Julie has to be very careful
with her budget and only allowing limited hours, but with such great city administrators,
officials, a wonderful library board, and dedicated staff, the library is run successfully. As
it mentions in our textbook (170), having the support of the school principal and administrators is crucial. This is also true to a public library and its city supports.

Finally, Julie and I talked about managing various groups of users. She mentioned that one problem she has when working with children is teaching the family (even
the parents) to be a responsible library patron. Children need to understand that the
library is their library, and they must consider how they will eat that library so it remains
a pleasant place to visit (172.) Our book describes this using a school library and students, but it can be transferred to a public library and children. She also mentions that
working with children can be one of the greatest joys when she gets the chance to observe and build literacy skills. Julie gets the greatest joy from helping seniors. She loves
the knowledge they bring to our society. For helping the seniors, the most difficulty
comes in assisting with new technology. The learning curve is rather large, so assisting
them is extremely different for each person. Volunteers, as Julie mentioned, can be a
little tricky. They need to be managed like any other employee, but they are not getting
paid to do the work. It is said that more management skills may be required with volunteers than paid staff because of pay, availability, training, direction, and correcting performance (173).
In conclusion, I would say that the interview with Julie has taught me a lot about
the problems and joys of managing personnel in a library. Julie seemed to have more
joys, which is not surprising if you have seen the way she runs the library. Julie is truly a
great boss, and I can say that I learn more from her each and every day at work. This
interview has really helped me to further understand what it may be like to work in a
public library.

Works Cited
Wolls, B, Weeks, A. C., & Coatney, S. (2014). On the job: Managing personnel. In The
school library manager (161-175). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Library Standards
Governance and Administration - Administration
17.The director is paid to perform library-board-designated duties for no fewer than 25
hours per week, which includes scheduled hours away from a public service
desk, and is present in the library a minimum of 10 hours per week during library
open hours.
18.The library director provides current library financial and statistical reports for review
at each library board meeting.
19.The library director provides every new board member with a copy of the Trustee
Essentials and participates in an orientation program for each new board member. (See Trustee Essential #27: Trustee Orientation and Continuing Education.
(See for more information.)
20.The library director informs the board of pending legislation on the local, state, and
national levels that affects libraries and explains how the proposed legislation
might affect local library service.
21.The library director is responsible for personnel administration, including hiring, supervising, evaluating, and dismissing library employees.
22.The library director is responsible for developing library operating procedures based
on board policies.
23.The library director monitors statutory changes and court decisions related to library
operations, and recommends any policy changes needed to maintain legal library
24.The library director is actively involved in community planning efforts.
25.The library director keeps the library board informed of library services and library
programs and all important issues facing the library.
26.The library collects the statistics and information required by the DLTCL and reports
that information to the municipal governing body, the library system, and the