Monday, November 06, 2006

More on Trust and Radical Trust + SLJ Summit

Michael Stephens posted this great photo, "Trust Drives Change." What a great line. As I noted to him, my perspective as an administrator is that you can't have institutional change without the trust of those who actually work in the institution.

Michael also pointed to an interesting challenge from Brian Kenney of SLJ aimed at public library administrators. I posted a comment, which has never appeared. It certainly explains why there are no comments on articles, when the software does not take the comments and post them!

In that I note that while the challenge to public library administrators is great, but there are a few flaws in his argument.

First, as an urban library administrator, my budget has been flat in nominal dollars over the past three years. This means that to just stay open, I need to give something else up each year. Never mind adding a new service! Any new service also will require giving up something.

Second, I have survived being a boy, and in my non-work hours do some work with young men between the ages of 11 and 18. I can tell you that after spending the day cooped up in a box, with rules and rules, that the last thing that a boy wants is to come to another box where quiet and subdued behavior is expected.

Do libraries really need to be in this business when we have such limited resources? In my community, there is an emphasis on OST (Out of School Time), but some of that is driven by NCLB (No Child Left Behind), and the politically driven drive to improve the "failing schools." What that has resulted in is decreasing amounts of physical activity for students as the schools are spending more and more time teaching to the d--n tests!

Is this an opportunity for public libraries to do better? You bet it is! But for many of us, it means we will be asking, what are we giving up to do this!

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