REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON SALT LAKE CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM MANAGEMENT ISSUES Final report, October 5, 2010

George Needham, Consultant

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS 1. To improve efficiency in implementation, reorganize the administrative and management structure of the Library. 2. To remove ambiguity in reporting structures and decision making, update the Employee Manual and the Policy and Procedure Manual to remove references to “participative management.” 3. To make it clear that the Library Director has staffing authority, revise the Board Bylaws. 4. To clarify roles and to place institutional attention on the Library’s strategy, evolve the Outcome Leads to full-time positions as positions and funding become available. 5. To refresh the leadership of the Library, open all changed positions for application by incumbents and other staff. 6. To infuse the Library with new ideas and to get full credit for the excellent work of the Library, support staff participation in state and national library associations.

BACKGROUND In June 2010, the Salt Lake City Board of Directors and Library Director Beth Elder engaged me to consult with the Library “to help ensure that the Salt Lake City Public Library’s plans are well aligned with community’s needs and expectations and that the Library’s resources are effectively mobilized in support of those plans.” The motivation for this engagement was to resolve issues between the staff and the Library Director over implementation of the Library’s strategy, which had been introduced and approved by the Board approximately one year earlier. Late 2009 and early 2010 had seen considerable dissention within the Library, with the strategy serving as the focal point of this concern.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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METHODOLOGY Upon the award of the engagement, I began a document review and held several conversations with Library Director Beth Elder. I made the first visit of my engagement on June 30 and July 1, 2010. During this visit, I met with Library Board Chair Hugh Gillilan; Library Director Beth Elder; Assistant Directors Deborah Ehrman and Colleen McLaughlin; the Management Team; and the Board of Directors. I also toured the Main Library and visited all five branches of the Library on this visit. Following this visit, I held several phone call meetings with Ms. Elder. I also spoke to retired Library Director Nancy Tessman. I continued to review documents pertaining to the strategic plan and the reactions to the plan, including the recommendations of the expert committees for each of the outcome groups. On August 23, 2010, my consulting partner Joan Frye Williams and I held a day-long meeting for the Management Team and the Board of Directors. The purpose of this meeting was to focus attention on the work that needed to be accomplished, to identify beliefs and practices that were getting in the way of moving forward, and to try to agree on specific roles and responsibilities for each of the key groups of players involved in the Library’s operations. The first two objectives of this meeting were accomplished, but the group remained divided about decision-making roles and lines of authority. After another series of phone calls, I returned for the final visit of my engagement September 810, 2010 and shared both my observations about the Library’s current processes and my initial recommendations for moving forward. This visit included a three-hour meeting with the Management Team that closed with general support for the Library’s strategy and a commitment to improve communications across all sectors.

RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDATION 1 Reorganize the administrative and management structure of the Library. The current structure of the Management Team is too large and unwieldy to be effective. The structure has given rise to a sense—perceived or real—of delayed decision-making, and frequent disagreements over who has the authority to make which decisions. The Management Team is also a heavy overhead burden for the Library. If 30 people are meeting twice a month for an average meeting of four hours, and the average hourly salary and benefits of the people in the room is, for purposes of example only, $35, the annual cost of the Management Team meetings to the Salt Lake City Library is over $100,000. This does not include travel time for branch staff or the opportunity costs of what else these staff members could be doing during this time.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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I recommend that an Administrative Team of five to six people—the Library Director, the Assistant Directors, and the Associate Directors—be created. This team will have the general authority to carry out the instructions and tone set by the Board of Directors, under the Library Director’s guidance. This includes decisions about the highest level of concerns for the Library, including the annual budget, staff deployment, creation of new systemwide library services, selection and development of new locations, approval of systemwide grants and other funding opportunities, and similar areas that affect the entire Library system. In this structure, the Assistant Directors will each supervise a group of Managers who report directly to them. The Assistant Directors, with input and advice from their Managers, would hold decision making authority about systemwide programming, collection management and development, special events, and other, shorter term goals and objectives of the Library within the budget and directions set by the Administrative Team. The Outcome Leads should also be represented in the meetings of the Managers with the Assistant Directors, to coordinate the day-to-day work of the system with the outcomes described in the strategy. To build trust and to ensure success, the Administrative Team should provide the Managers with a clear understanding of the overall strategy of the Library, the budget within which each unit and committee must work, and the metrics by which each Manager will have his or her work evaluated. The Assistant Managers will, in turn, work closely with their Managers to ensure proper communication flow, from the front line staff, through the Managers and Assistant Managers, to the Assistant Directors and the Library Director. The cascading nature of accountability is described more fully in Recommendation 4. I recommend that the entire supervisory team, (Library Director, Assistant and Associate Directors, Managers and Assistant Managers) meet quarterly for informational and problem-solving sessions. I also recommend that, at least every other year, this Team meet offsite for at least a full working day to review strategy and confer on direction.

RECOMMENDATION 2 Update the Employee Manual and the Policy and Procedures to remove references to “participative management.” The term “participative management” appears several times in the Employee Handbook and the Policy and Procedure manual. The term is frequently invoked, and underlies the culture of the organization. However, this term is not consistently understood or applied, and has resulted in uncertain lines of authority. “Participative management” has resulted in a snarl of decision making, or, more accurately, decision implementation. In extensive discussion with the Management Team and other leaders in the Library, it was clear that there was no consistent understanding of this term.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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As part of this process, I recommend removing all references to “participative management” in the Employee Handbook and the Policy and Procedure Manual. I further recommend condensing the 12-page “Administration” chapter of the Policy and Procedure Manual, deleting nearly all the sections of this chapter, as they either contradict or duplicate the Employee Handbook and/or the Board of Directors Bylaws. I recommend retaining the section on the Government Records Access and Management Act. I recommend replacing the concept of “participative management” with “collaborative design,” as described in Appendix 2. These revisions should be carried out as quickly as possible by the Director and the Assistant Directors, and submitted to the Board for approval.

RECOMMENDATION 3 Revise the Board Bylaws to make it clear that the Library Director has staffing authority. I recommend rewriting Article VI, Section 2, of the Board Bylaws to make it clear that the Library Director has the authority to appoint, promote, discipline, and dismiss staff, with such decisions reported monthly to the Board. The Board should also consider establishing an Executive Committee to field issues between meetings and to manage the evaluation of the Library Director.

RECOMMENDATION 4 Evolve the Outcome Leads to full-time positions as positions and funding become available. Holding responsibility for the completion of one of the major Outcomes of the system is not a task to be taken lightly, nor one that should be diluted by other day-to-day responsibilities. I recommend that the position of Outcome Lead evolve into a regular, full-time job within the Library system. These positions should be seen as stretch assignments for individuals who want to learn more about the system and who want to make themselves eligible for Manager or higher level positions within the system. Under this construct, the Outcome Leads would be responsible for designing the techniques through which the strategy will be implemented. They would submit their implementation plans for review and consideration by the Assistant Directors and the Managers who report to them. Using the consensus process described in Appendix 2, the Assistant Directors and Managers would approve the final plans. There is cascading accountability in this construct. The Managers would be responsible for implementing those designs, and would be accountable to the Assistant Directors for this

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Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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implementation. The Assistant Directors, in turn, are accountable to the Library Director. The Library Director is accountable to the Board, which approved the strategy in the first place. For this to work, the Library must provide training in library outcome measurement for Outcome Leads and Managers, to remove any obstacles to success.

RECOMMENDATION 5 Open all changed positions for application by incumbents and other staff. As management job responsibilities change, and as Outcome Lead evolves into a full-time position, it is reasonable to re-open these newly refocused jobs, and to have the incumbents re-apply for those jobs in which they are interested. The successful candidates should bring enthusiasm, appropriate talents, commitment to the larger goals of the organization, and proven skills to their new positions. Some Managers will apply to continue in the jobs they currently hold. Others may take advantage of this opportunity to try a different leadership position, or to return to a line staff position. Still others may find that this new administrative structure is not what they prefer, and will move on. This is a natural part of the change process, and while it may be uncomfortable, especially in a system where so many staff have come up through the ranks together, it is necessary to create new ways of thinking and operating.

RECOMMENDATION 6 Support staff participation in state and national library associations. The staff of the Salt Lake City Public Library are rightly proud of the work they have done. At the same time, as noted above, many staff have come up through the ranks, earning their library degrees online or through distance programs while working for the Library, but having little or no experience in other systems. The Library should encourage active participation by its staff, especially its newer professional staff, in the Utah Library Association, the Public Library Association, and/or the American Library Association. (The Urban Libraries Council is a similar participation opportunity for trustees, the Library Director, and top administrators.) Such encouragement should include release time for annual conferences, stronger support for the escalating costs of participation, and a requirement that staff who attend such conferences on the Library’s tab report back to staff on what they have learned and seen. Participation in these state and national organizations will have two immediate benefits for the Library. First, having staff actively involved in these groups gives them the opportunity to spread the word about the jewels that are this city and this Library. This would expand the job pool when openings
George Needham Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System Page 5

arise, and leverage the 2006 “Library of the Year” award while it continues to be relevant. Second, the exposure to new ideas and fresh practices in conference programs, through service on committees or task forces, or in hallway conversations at various events, will be salubrious for the Library. Such participation would expand the techniques available to staff for delivering excellent customer service; help the Library stay current with best and fresh practices; refresh the staff’s perspective; and challenge assumptions.

SUGGESTION Take a fresh look at the role of LEO in Library administration. This does not rise to the level of a recommendation, but I would strongly suggest that the Library Administrative Team and the LEO Executive Council take a fresh look at LEO’s role in administrative processes. It seems to me that LEO is in an ambiguous position: its officials serve in the grievance procedure, attend Board meetings, attend management retreats, and perform many other roles. LEO has no official standing, as an association or corporation. This could open LEO officers to personal liability, such as a wrongful termination suit if a grievance procedure leads to such action. Given that all staff are, by definition, members of LEO, Managers may end up leading that group. The President of LEO this year, for example, is invited to attend all Management Team meetings. A Manager could find himself or herself deciding a grievance process involving a peer. As a result, LEO could be perceived as a management-dominated organization that limits employee options. My suggestion would be that the Library review its grievance procedures and consider adopting one that emulates the procedure followed by the City Council office.

CONCLUSION The Salt Lake City Public Library is a strong institution with great popular support and stable funding. The staff is dedicated and experienced. The strategy, rooted in community needs and aspirations, is forward-looking and progressive. With the implementation of the recommendations set out here, the Library will be in an excellent position to claim its role as one of the leading urban public libraries in the United States.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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Appendix 1 ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES This is a summary of my presentation on September 9 about the roles and responsibilities of each of the major institutional players in the future of the Salt Lake City Public Library. THE CITY    Political structure must be part of any considerations. The City Council holds the power to approve the budget; this is a key role which has not been properly appreciated in the controversies of past months. Utah Code also has provision for merger of library systems (9-7-410, 9-7-510).

THE BOARD  Utah Code, 9-7-404. Board powers and duties: “The board shall     (a) maintain and care for the library (b) establish policies for its operations

Utah Code, 9-7-405. Rules -- Use of library. “The library board of directors shall make, amend, and repeal rules, not inconsistent with law, for the governing of the library.” Utah Public Library Trustee Manual:   “…the eyes and ears of the community” “…bring the citizens’ perspective to board business”

“Nose in, hands off.” William Crowe, former chair of the OCLC Board of Trustees. In other words, the Board can express its interest in anything the Library is doing, but it only acts as a group, not individually, and it does not manage day-to-day operations. Relations between individual trustees and staff members should be marked by discretion and cordiality.

THE DIRECTOR  Utah Code, 9-7-407. Librarian and other personnel. “The library board of directors shall appoint a competent person as librarian to have immediate charge of the library with those duties and compensation for services that it determines. The librarian shall act as the executive officer for the library board.”

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Utah Public Library Trustee Manual, 2010. (The Board will) “appoint a Library Director and decide what he/she will do and how much money he/she will be paid; the library director is the executive officer for your board and will manage the day-to-day operations of the library.” The Board’s interface with the Library and the Library staff is through the Library Director. The Library Director is responsible for ensuring that the right people are in the right positions to move the strategy forward, and to ensure that all staff have the tools and skills they need to make the Library successful.

 

THE ASSISTANT/ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS        Could be responsible for one or more major areas of library operation Or could be specialists in certain areas (HR, Technical Services, Finance, IT) Essential that the Assistant and Associate Directors get the input they need to make decisions or recommendations from the people who report to them Essential that they have the authority to act Influence and control over the delivery of service Primary responsibility for the user’s experience Primary responsibility for day-to-day operations

THE MANAGERS      Represent administration positively to one’s unit Guiding staff to do their jobs well, providing useful feedback, and evaluating their performance Implement projects Meeting metrics Managers do not free lance. They do not go to the Board or to individual trustees or to City Council when they don’t like a policy or a procedure. They bring their concerns to their immediate manager or to the Assistant Directors or to the Director. Utah’s Whistleblower law protects employees if they report a violation of law. But if an employee is unhappy with a direction, or doesn’t like or can’t agree with a decision that’s been made by the Board or the Library Director, that’s not a legal basis on which to bypass the chain of authority within the Library. Once a decision has been made, it is the obligation of the managers to represent that decision to his or her unit positively and to implement it.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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Appendix 2 CONSENSUS AND COLLABORATION During the August 23rd session with the Board of Directors and the Management Team, Joan Frye Williams and I introduced a definition of consensus, and a way of looking at decision making in the context of principles, outcomes and techniques. In my final session with the Management Team on September 9, Assistant Director Deborah Ehrman suggested the term “collaboration” as a replacement term, noting that this carries the implication that one collaborates in the complete process. Instead of “participative management,” I believe that the new cultural norm should be “collaborative design.” This reinforces the concept that every employee has the opportunity and the responsibility to participate in the design of how the Library functions, but it does not carry the implication of management. Collaborative design allows all staff to provide their best ideas and suggestions, to be heard openly and honestly, and to get feedback on what decisions were reached and how those decisions were made. The process can be seen as a common agreement to a four-step consensus process: 1.) The process is fair. 2.) The decision-making criteria are understood. 3.) I had the opportunity for my voice to be heard. 4.) Even if the direction chosen may not be what I would have selected, I will support it in my communications and in my actions.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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Appendix 3 PROFESSIONALISM In the September 9 meeting, we discussed what it means to be a professional. There was considerable discussion, but the four points I introduced as key were:     Accountability Curiosity Integrity Commitment to continuous improvement

In this construct, accountability requires one to be accountable for one’s actions as a professional. This means that the individual provides one’s best professional judgment to assessing a situation, and then provides input to one’s supervisors and colleagues in a forthright, honest, but generous way. And, as noted in the consensus discussion in Appendix 1, once a decision or direction is decided upon, the professional supports the decision with his or her words and actions. This means that a Manager conveys messages from administration to his or her staff without spin or rancor, without assessing motives or doubting sincerity. Curiosity includes the desire to know more about changes or advances in library practice in other communities, in research about one’s field of specialty, and in technology. Curiosity can be manifested by participation in professional forums such as library associations, by attending continuing education programs, or by writing for professional journals or blogs. It can also mean participating in benchmarking, to compare the Library with comparable libraries of similar size, budget, demographics, etc., to improve service and understand other options. Integrity is the basic ethic by which we work. Integrity means being honest and forthright with one’s employer and with one’s staff. It also means that a professional does not speak ill of the institution in which one works to outside parties. Discussion and dissension must be kept within the staff. Anonymous attacks and criticism are unbecoming any professional. Integrity also includes recognizing the importance of other professions in the operation of a modern library. If we wish to have the MLS degree recognized and respected by other professionals, we need to carry the same spirit for professionals in human resources, finance, technology, and communications. A commitment to continuous improvement means that a professional is never satisfied with the status quo. A professional always looks for ways to make processes and procedures more effective for the end user, for ways to improve the performance of the library. The professional accepts that suggested change is not an indictment or a repudiation of his or her body of work, but is part of the evolution of libraries over time. A good maxim for professionals is the Q-TIP rule: “Quit Taking It Personally!”

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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Appendix 4 CABINET OR SENATE? The question of the role of the Management Team was shaped at one point as, “Is the Management Team more similar to the Senate, or to the Cabinet?” Senators are free agents. They are elected by the voters of their states to represent the interests of their states. They negotiate and collaborate with other legislators, but they are their own bosses. They caucus, they run hearings and investigations, they introduce and vote on legislation, but they are not involved in the implementation of the votes they take. Cabinet members are appointed by the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate), and are expected to carry out the initiatives and the policies the President directs. The management team has to function as the body that carries out the vision and the direction of the Library Board and Director. Senators deliberate and they legislate, but they don’t actually implement anything. Cabinet members run the agencies that actually carry out the directions. For these reasons, I strongly believe that managers within the Library need to behave more like cabinet members.

George Needham

Report and Recommendations / Salt Lake City Public Library System

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