One of the hardest things about being an Assistant Director is that 90% of the great blog fodder that comes up is stuff I can’t discuss in my blog. Management involves people most of the time, and you can’t just go chatting about your staff OR your boss OR your patrons OR your board. You just can’t.
But what I can tell you is that worklife these days involves a complete renovation of the Library building and a complete renovation of the Library website. No one would ever have planned it this way, but that’s how the grant funding for the website overhaul worked out. Some days, it feels like complete chaos, with too many decisions needing to be made quickly and too much new information to take in. Things that seem like they are going to be simple end up being far more complex than you could dream, while other things that looked like they were going to be a nightmare are easy-breezy.
I’m finding that a couple of things are key in getting through it all. The first is extremely obvious–you have to stay flexible. At the beginning of our construction project, our director passed out little figures of Poky and Gumby as a reminder that flexibility was going to get us through some tough spots, and that has turned out to be very true. Both projects have turned out to have moments that teach you that there is usually more than one possible solution to a problem. I’ve always been a “One right way to do everything” (from Cheaper by the Dozen) kind of girl, and sometimes that is still very useful in terms of not doing things in stupid or roundabout ways. But if you make up your mind going into a situation that there is only one right way to do something, you lose your ability to see all of the possibilities. So that’s one thing I’ve learned through this–stay flexible!
Of course the other thing that has been extremely helpful throughout these two projects is remembering that it is all for the patrons. If you keep your patrons at the forefront of designing either a new building or a new website, your work remains mission-based. There’s a point to it all. And it will lead you in the right direction most of the time. It’s very easy in management to develop an ear for “Oh, the staff will hate this,” because A) you’re a member of the staff and B) you hear a lot more from the staff than from the patrons, typically. I’m coming to realize how easy it is to let that voice be the one that guides decisions–we all like to keep the staff happy, and a happy staff does better work. But while a happy staff is important, happy patrons are much more important. It’s their library, not ours. And happy patrons help make the staff happy, too.
So little by little the work is getting done. I’ve been in charge of organizing and writing a lot of the website content, so it’s stressful and strenuous and complicated. But boy is it fun! The construction has been challenging for sure, but the results have been gorgeous and functional. I used to worry that working in management wouldn’t provide the nice variety of work I enjoyed in Youth Services, but that has not been a problem this year! I think I will be glad for a little less variety next year when these two projects are all done.