LLAMA Competencies Committee Case Studies
As the professional organization for library leadership and management development, the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) has identified 14 definitive competencies that can be applied across roles, career stages, and library types (http://www.ala.org/llama/leadership-and-management-competencies). To help gain a better understanding of how these competencies are applicable, the LLAMA Competencies Committee has developed a case study for each of the competencies. Every month a new case study will be posted. Communication, critical in all aspects of daily life, is the first case study to be showcased.
Case study for Communication skills:
A medium-size library underwent a total renovation of its heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system (HVAC). This project was to take approximately a year to complete. Halfway through the project, additional funding was secured to re-paint and re-carpet all the public areas of the building as well as create a new technology area. The work was completed by closing off various building areas for two to three months at a time in order to concentrate renovation efforts. Noise and dust were a constant problem.
Because of the impact on library users and library staff, the library leader employed a variety of communication methods to keep everyone updated on the work progress as well as temporary location changes of resources and services. The library digital sign, mounted on a wall near the library’s entrance, was continuously updated. The library leader sent out regular e-mail updates to staff so they were equipped to respond to user questions and concerns. Signage was posted on the entrance doors to each floor alerting users of the current work status.
Despite the various communication tactics being used, library staff monitoring social media discovered that library users remained confused and unhappy with the noise and closed off areas. They were not paying any attention to the various communication methods already being used. Library staff also needed more communication.
The library leader intensified communication efforts. The digital sign and door signs appeared to be insufficient. She replaced and added signage all around the library, including inside the elevator, with more frequently updated progress information, always adding her photograph and contact information as well as accentuating the positive of how the completed project would benefit library users. She increased her visibility in public and staff areas seeking out feedback and proactively addressing the changes as they occurred. She had a website created containing up-to-date information, continually refreshing the page as needed, and posted the link front and center on the library’s home page. E-mails were sent out to faculty by the library liaisons when necessary to update them on changes to hours, unexpected library closings, or temporary relocations of resources. Administrators and Library Advisory Committee members were kept informed. The quarterly library newsletter always included a blurb about the progress. All communications included an invitation to contact the library leader regarding any issues or concerns.
Communication with staff via e-mail was also increased and the leader spent more time in each library department communicating changes face-to-face. This provided additional opportunities to hear and address concerns. To accentuate the positive she also sent e-mails to thank and recognize various staff members for tasks completed as part of various renovation shifting projects.
Communication was also necessary with the contractors and subcontractors. The library leader attended all scheduled meetings, or sent a representative, so that library user and staff needs were always considered in work schedules and building area targets. Reading periods and exam dates were communicated early in the process so that noise and confusion would not be an issue at these times. Any unexpected closings asked for as part of work completion were vetted in advance to ensure minimal or no impact on users at critical junctures in the semester.
While utilizing a variety of communication methods required much time and effort on the part of the library leader, the benefit of keeping users well-informed greatly decreased issues with the various constituents. The project was completed ahead of schedule with a positive reception by campus and community affiliates.