Category Archives: Special Reports

Report on LAUC-R Brainstorming Session

Submitted by Carla Arbagey, LAUC-R Chair, 2015/2016
Draft, 3/4/2016

Summary

The February 9th, 2016 meeting of LAUC-R consisted of a brainstorming session to address the issue of improving morale in the library, especially among librarians.  A majority of LAUC-R members were in attendance, with a good mix of librarians, department heads, and administrators contributing to the session.
Attendees were split into two groups: active brainstorming and silent brainstorming. Active brainstorming involved the group calling out ideas in rapid succession, while the silent brainstormers wrote ideas on sticky notes, which were later arranged into categories.  After the session, those who were not able to attend were invited to send ideas via e-mail.

Each group was asked to brainstorm ideas on the following topics:

  • What makes you happy at work?
  • Which professional development opportunities help improve morale?
  • What kinds of programs, services, equipment, technology, furniture, educational opportunities, activities, or anything else you can think of, will improve morale?
  • What are we doing that we should keep doing to bolster our morale?

Once each group was finished brainstorming, they were asked to categorize their ideas, which are included in an appendix at the end of this report.  To finish up the session, each group presented their ideas.

Themes

After examining the ideas, I found that they fall into six major themes:

  1. Respect and how we treat each other
    Librarians indicated that working with highly professional, creative, and engaged colleagues makes them happy.  They appreciate that we respect one another’s busy schedules, and call for shorter, more productive meetings.  There is a clear desire to build a culture of caring and gratitude by saying thank-you for work done, appreciating contributions, and respecting the ideas of others.
  1. Library as place
    Many librarians suggested ways to improve or enhance our physical space as a way to improve morale.  Windows, plants, natural light, and ergonomic furniture were all cited as positive things we currently have.  Top on the list of ideas to improve morale included a café or coffee cart of some kind, clean restrooms, and staff areas that are better-equipped and modernized.
  1. Interaction and communication
    Issues and ideas about our communication were the most frequently mentioned ideas during both brainstorming sessions.  It is clear that librarians do not just want communication, but interaction, to improve morale.  In addition to receiving clear, frequent, timely, and in-depth communication from library leadership, librarians would like to participate in discussions about the library’s future, foster fluid communication and listening skills, and build an environment of trust.
  1. Training opportunities
    Librarians are eager to learn about new technologies, methodologies, and about the work of others.  We enjoy opportunities to enhance our skills and share our expert opinion/insight.  Continued (and enhanced) funding for professional development activities has been a great morale booster.
  1. Technology
    Librarians want technology that is portable, cutting-edge, and helpful to our jobs.  We need technology that will help is work from home or on-the-go.  We also want the ability to experiment with new technology through prototyping and testing.
  1. Programs
    Librarians cited programs dealing with diversity, cultural events, and socializing as being good ways to improve morale.  Staff socials such as brown-bag lunches, “open house” events in departments, field trips, and film screenings (with popcorn provided!) were all mentioned.  Further, a peer recognition or rewards program was suggested several times as a way to improve morale.  Past programs such as the Edible Book Contest, Library Staff Association (LSA) activities, Banned Books Week, and National Library Week were mentioned as being worthy of continuation.

Actions

Achievable, Near-term Actions
The following are suggested actions we can do within the next 12 months, along with the proposed LAUC-R group that can accomplish them.  Other LAUC-R groups or individuals are encouraged to help see these actions through, or to suggest other actions.

  • Plan an event to celebrate National Library Week and/or National Library Worker’s Day (LAUC-R Executive Board)
  • Host a film series for LAUC-R (or all library staff), possibly using films from the new Kanopy Streaming service (Programs and/or Diversity Committee)
  • Set up a regular brown-bag lunch session for librarians to share ideas and accomplishments (LAUC-R Chair)
  • Develop a system or program for librarians to share their professional development activities (Professional Development Committee)
  • Identify training opportunities such as webinars, workshops, and librarian-to-librarian learning and publicize/host them (Professional Development Committee, Mentoring Committee, all LAUC-R members)
  • Collaborate with the new Internal Events Committee to co-sponsor events such as the Edible Book Contest or a coffee/ice cream social (Programs Committee)
  • Collaborate with the new Professional Development Committee to create a staff recognition program (TBD, or by volunteer)
  • Sign up for the libchat@liblist.ucr.edu mailing list at http://liblist.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/libchat (All LAUC-R members)
  • Regularly check the UC Learning Center, com, and UCR Extension Center for training and development opportunities (All LAUC-R Members)

Challenging, Ongoing Actions
These are broader goals that have less tangible solutions, or which require an ongoing and sustained effort.  Future conversations among the LAUC-R membership should help determine how we can realize these goals.

  • Build a culture of interaction between librarians and library administration
  • Develop our communication and listening skills
  • Utilize current technology and equipment request procedures to secure beneficial/new technology and furniture for your personal workspace
  • Develop a stress management program
  • Continue to assert LAUC/LAUC-R’s role as an advisory body to the university and library administration, and advocate for professional librarians

Appendix: Ideas Generated During Brainstorming

Active Brainstorming Group ideas

What we sometimes do/keep doing/do more:

  • Ability and technology to work from home or off-campus
  • Inter- and cross-campus connections to share expertise
  • New staff to add to our resources and expertise
  • Like that we have professional development funds: keep it and add more, check out comparative institutions’ funding, such as Cal Tech
  • Plants
  • Better library classrooms to teach in and use
  • Opportunity for staff to get together informally
  • More sign-ups to LibChat e-mail list
  • Working with students
  • Finish projects
  • Departmental togetherness and activities, such as lunch
  • Meaningful work
  • Meaningful rewards and recognition
  • Ability to test/experiment/prototype
  • Timely official communications
  • Library branded/promo items
  • Shorter meetings
  • Portable technology
  • Windows/sunlight
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Field trips
  • Shorter meetings
  • Start meetings on time
  • More access to technology that helps us
  • More maker activities in the library
  • Celebrate National Library Week
  • Celebrate Banned Books Week
  • Edible Book Contest

What we would like to have:

  • Good public transport to and from work
  • Professional development reporting to & from all
  • Sufficient employees to do the jobs
  • Electronic resource management system
  • Causes – projects/support for
  • Adopt campus groups/support (such as Guardian Scholars)
  • Use staff hours to volunteer for other library-related causes
  • Would like it is the library can pre-purchase conference registration, hotel/air instead of reimbursing
  • Staff/staff or peer recognition program (recognize staff while they are still here)
  • More chocolate, ice cream, coffee
  • Egg chairs for all
  • Better library classrooms to teach in/use
  • Divisional and departmental budgets for discretionary opportunities and initiatives
  • Staff areas equipped as well as public areas
  • Nap room, shower room
  • Free access to the SRC
  • Remodel Rivera staff room
  • Childcare
  • Film series with popcorn (get a popcorn machine?)
  • Plotter outside the staff room
  • Fun activities for students
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Coffee cart in the lobby
  • Walking meetings
  • Library café (with food)
  • Frosted glass windows
  • Reward system

What makes us happy:

  • Great colleagues
  • Environment of trust
  • Library Insider newsletter
  • Managers who have an open-door policy
  • Meaningful rewards and recognition
  • High standards
  • Culture of gratitude
  • Colleagues with ideas

Silent Brainstorming Group

Theme 1: Our colleagues

  • Having a national/international impact
  • Being a world-class librarian
  • Making a positive difference in student/faculty lives
  • Keep doing: hiring good people in the organization
  • Communicating with all staff at all levels of the organization
  • Administration and staff, librarians (not necessarily supervisors) should get to know each other better
  • High standards
  • Talented colleagues
  • Creative colleagues
  • Makes me happy: colleagues who contribute positively and do their jobs well
  • Seeing colleagues excel
  • Autonomy within the context of the job
  • Opportunities to interact with colleagues at other UCs and elsewhere

Theme 2: Respect and recognition

  • Team building opportunities
  • Respect for all ideas
  • Studies show people feel better at work when they have autonomy/control
  • Respect each other’s time (keep doing)
  • Respecting all co-workers
  • Encouragement to surface ideas for professional opportunities
  • Professional approach to service
  • Talk to others about their similar/different experiences
  • Creativity is encouraged and appreciated
  • Appreciation for contributions
  • Makes me happy: feeling valued by managers, colleagues, and patrons
  • Ability to experiment
  • Say Thank You
  • Across-the-board opportunities for serving
  • Treating one another professionally
  • Engaged, peaceful co-workers
  • Inclusivity
  • New staff
  • Cooperation among departments
  • Colleagues make me happy at work

Theme 3: Communication

  • Already doing: asking each other for advice/input
  • Occasional brown bags to discuss societal/cultural events
  • More and better communication
  • Doing clear communication about the future
  • Information-sharing and discussions of professional opportunities
  • Even more in-depth communication
  • Clear and fair communications about expectations
  • Workshop on open and fluid communication/conversation
  • Listen more; listen to one another
  • Having a clear idea of direction of the university/library

Theme 4: What makes us happy:

  • Experiment
  • Permission to strive for excellence
  • Freedom to think outside the box
  • Keep doing: positive changes and enhancements
  • Short-term cross training
  • Learning new things
  • Natural light
  • Other staff members
  • Ergonomic evaluations
  • Colored pens
  • Being surrounded by beauty (workspace and collections)
  • Safe work environment
  • Knowing I was in a unique position to help someone
  • Flexibility
  • Good ideas
  • Work-life balance
  • Flexible schedule
  • New initiatives and challenges
  • Getting to go outside sometimes
  • Bring your pet to work day
  • Producing finished end products that are tangible and usable
  • Coming up with new solutions
  • Coffee cart
  • Positive feedback from users, stakeholders, colleagues, and supervisors
  • When I feel like I have time to follow up/see a task through
  • Technology/new technology
  • New website

Theme 5: Professional development and opportunities

  • Professional opportunities
  • Understanding the big picture
  • Professional growth
  • All-staff meetings/town hall
  • Opportunities to enhance skills
  • Knowledge sharing
  • New technology
  • Learning opportunities
  • Conferences, workshops, programs
  • Diversity programs
  • Attending meetings in other departments
  • Getting to work on cutting-edge projects
  • Interesting speakers
  • International student exchange
  • Getting good critical feedback on performance
  • Opportunities for training
  • Personal growth
  • Educational and cultural opportunities
  • Training opportunities
  • Inclusion in professional activities
  • Stress management programs offered regularly
  • Programs on librarian research
  • Workshops to enhance skill sets
  • Being asked for my expert opinion, insight, or experience
  • Getting to take a break for fun and contemplation
  • Learning new content/information, getting to “go deep”
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Mentoring
  • Training on technical equipment and software

 E-mail Brainstorming Ideas

  • Humane and caring management
  • Would like to have: Goals and priorities of the UL and AULs
  • Makes me happy: receiving support and validation from colleagues
  • Re-instate LSA
  • Keep the Library Insider newsletter going
  • Reasonable, achievable expectations for advancement