How do you make it happen? How do you get things done? Ken Haycock, Director of the School of Library & Information Science at San Jose State University, gave us some pointers this morning. His first comment was, “If you don’t promote yourself, you’re doomed to defend yourself.”
According to Haycock, librarians suffer from the curse of high public satisfaction and low expectations. People don’t complain about libraries, so management isn’t motivated to provide libraries with additional resources.
What to do about this? Use influence. Haycock reminded us that influence is different from power and that expertise is highly overrated when looking at influence. Components of influence, based on studies of successful people, are trust (nobody gives money to someone they don’t trust), having a good reputation, integrity, listening rather than talking, caring, self-confidence, and mentoring (and mentoring can be informal). Influence involves being able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.
Leadership, based on influence, is something that librarians should embrace. We all need to be leaders in what we do. The pillars of influence are relationship, intended approach, desired results, and context for the issue, the individual and the organization.
Haycock then moved on to advocacy, which should not be confused with public relations and is not the same as marketing or advertising. Advocacy is planned, deliberate, and sustained. It’s a way of life, designed to develop understanding and support. The rules of advocacy: It’s all about respect. It’s about connecting agendas.
Telling people what we do is ineffective. Aligning our message with our audience’s values is more likely to result in libraries getting what they want. He believes that the idea of public good is dead. It’s public value instead. Prove how libraries provide value for money
But take it further. Librarians should move from being advocates to being at the table. Be where problems are being considered and explain how the library can contribute to solutions. Recognize that people do things for their reasons, not ours. It’s important connect with the values of the people you work with. He also acknowledged that it’s difficult to show value when library services are free. Statistics that mean something to librarians can be interpreted very differently by others. Do high circulation figures equate to people actually reading the books they’ve checked out?
He urged librarians to think about their ROTI (Return on time invested). We can’t afford to continue to be perfectionists in everything we do. Our most precious resource is time, yet we spend hours on things that don’t add value. We need to leverage our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to become mo9re strategic. Focus and be courageous; don’t rely solely on intuition because intuition is often wrong.
Consider a 1-page SOPPADA presentation: Subject, Object, Present situation, Proporal, Advantages, Disadvantages, and Actions. A mediocre plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Frame issues appropriately for your audience. Don’t forget to ask for what you want and don’t whine. The librarian “culture of niceness” leads to us to think of ourselves as victims and to avoid conflict. Neither are what we should be doing or thinking.
Major inhibitors include it’s not my job, feeling you lack competence, talking is not influencing, there are no silver bullets or quick fixes, don’t try to influence everyone (focus on reports and opinion leaders).
Haycock’s final admonitions: To build influence, use evidence, connect agendas, assess time, assess costs, leverage resources, and measure results.