Executive Director's Desk - August 13, 2015


What’s your beef?  Bring it to the Executive Exchange at MLA 2015

I’m dating myself with this reference but does anyone remember the 1984 television commercial for Wendy’s? The catchphrase was “Where’s the beef?” The expression has since become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event or product according to Wikipedia.

We’re changing it up a bit and want you to decide not where but what’s your library’s biggest issue or “beef.” What keeps you up at night? What are the top issues your library and the profession are facing? We asked library directors this question in a survey recently and what we heard back were well thought out and wide ranging concerns faced by libraries of every size and location.

Among the most often listed were, of course, funding and budget but also staffing, dealing with board members and staying relevant in a quickly changing world. Our library leaders are facing a changing demographic not only with their patrons but in their employees as well.

Developing the next generation of leaders is also of major concern. There is a plethora of new library science graduates and a finite number of well-paying, career building jobs for them. On the flip side, finding appropriate leadership training for rising managers, mentoring and hiring and retaining talented people is equally difficult.

While some questions remain constant such as; how do we help the public understand that librarians are skilled professionals?, others focus on the transforming future and a lack of understanding about what librarians can bring to the table in the digital age.

How can we address these issues and come up with solutions? Again we looked to our survey and found three excellent suggestions for proactive methods of solving some of these beefs. They included building awareness, brainstorming and discussion with peers. So, we’re doing just that at MLA 2015 this year. Our new session; Executive Exchange is billed as an unconference in a conference. It’s designed for executive level librarians to come together and work out solutions, brainstorm ideas or just plain discuss what’s going on in their library. The Executive Exchange is Wednesday, October 28, 10: 30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 to 4:15 p.m. at MLA2015 annual conference in Novi.

First, join your fellow library directors, deans and upper management in frank and open roundtable conversations about boards, budgets and other challenges. You choose the topic and learn from your colleagues. Our goal is to provide a safe and open atmosphere for discussion by our library leaders.  

Next we address some funding issues by explaining municipal bonds.  Brodie Killian, Director of Debt Capital Markets from William Blair and Company and his co-presenter Bobby Bendzinski from Bendzinski & Company will be presenting “What’s Trending in Municipal Bonds”.

We’ll round out the afternoon with a legislative update from GCSI and a session on advocacy training.

We’re connecting library leaders with one another for a chance to get the discussion started and initiate solutions. It is often said that you learn more at conferences from discussions with your peers than you will listening to speakers. This is especially true at the leadership level. We’ll then take your ideas and suggestions and expand those topics at future workshops and events bringing in professionals and information to cultivate innovative solutions to those challenging obstacles.

If you have topics you would like included in the discussion please email them to gmadziar@milibraries.org. See you in Novi.


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