9/06/19 Be a Manager AND a Leader: Encouraging Stories in Your Library

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Beckwith:
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m LeAnn Beckwith, SWFLN’s Continuing
Education coordinator, and I would like to welcome
you all to today’s webinar, “Be a Manager and a Leader: Encouraging Stories
in Your Library,” with today’s presenter,
Linda Bruno. Linda Bruno has been developing and conducting
training for libraries and other organizations
for more than 15 years. She offers training on topics
ranging from leadership skills to returning balance
and lots of areas in between. Linda received her MBA
from the University of Florida and has years of experience in
hands-on management positions. She develops her workshops
based on solid research and, more importantly,
real-life application. Linda is also certified
with DDI and AchieveGlobal. Please help me welcome Linda,
and enjoy her webinar. Linda? Bruno:
Thanks so much, LeAnn, and welcome, everybody,
to today’s session. I love stories, and if you
look at the slide, I think most of us can agree that as soon as
we hear the words “Once upon a time,”
we expect a story, don’t we? We expect to be drawn into that. We expect to be engaged. We expect to be interested,
all those kinds of things. In the library world, we have become very accustomed
to statistics, and statistics are huge,
and they’re critical. They’re crucial. We don’t get money
if we don’t have statistics, but they don’t tell
the whole story, do they? So we need to make sure we’re
engaging people’s logical side, which is the statistics
side of their brain, but we also need to make sure
we’re engaging their emotional side,
not to be manipulative, not to get them
to do what we want, but to help them
understand what we do. That’s part of it, isn’t it? So I want you to close your eyes
for a moment, and I want you to picture that you need to hire
somebody like me. You need to hire somebody
to come in and do training, to work with your folks and all those kinds of things,
so picture that. You are interviewing me,
basically. So as I come to you,
one thing I could say is that over 98 percent
of my evaluations give me a score of excellent,
and that’s pretty good because you always have somebody
in the group that maybe was told
they had to be there, and they don’t give you
as high of a score, or I occasionally get the person
that writes on an evaluation, “I never give anybody
the highest score because I just don’t.” So a 98 percent
would be pretty good, and you might think,
“Huh, that’s pretty good.” And the next person
might come in and say they have 98.2 percent
or whatever, and if you only look
at the statistics, they’re not going to tell you
the Linda Bruno story. So keep your eyes closed, and let me tell you
a real-life story that might influence you to make me the person that
comes in and helps your people. I’m not asking you
to hire me today. I’m just giving you this as
an example of how stories work. Back in 2015, November of 2015, so almost 4 years ago now,
I got this e-mail, and it says, “Linda, I don’t know
if you will remember me, but I wanted
to touch base with you. You presented at a conference
in Madison, Wisconsin, back in 2008. You were one of the main
speakers at that conference. Your session on returning
balance to your life still impacts me to this day.” Okay, little side note here: The e-mail was sent
in 2015, almost in 2016. I did the conference in 2008, so she’s writing me
almost 8 years later. She wrote a whole paragraph about what she learned
from that, how she’s taken it
to her next job, and she ended by saying, “I wanted you to know the impact
you made on my life and how grateful I am that I was
able to see your presentation. Thank you!” When I sent her a note to tell her
how much I appreciated her note, she e-mailed back, and she said, “You hear people say
that someone changed their life, and I guess I get the privilege
of telling you that you were one of the people
who truly changed my life, and not just for a day
or a week or even a year. This has shifted my perspective
for many years now.” Okay, you can open your eyes. Which one of those scenarios
is going to make you want to hire me
to help your people? Just type it into the chat box. Is it the statistic
or the story? Or maybe you don’t want
to hire me at all. [ Laughs ] And again, I’m not asking
anybody in the room to hire me. I’m just saying that this is
the difference, isn’t it, between a statistic and a story. I want to back up what I
tell you with that statistic, but to really get
your attention — Thank you, Sharon.
Yes. I think it would probably be —
And Kathleen. Yep, Lisa.
I think the story — You get a feeling from it,
don’t you? I don’t know if you could
hear it, but I almost broke down
reading that. I keep this in a —
What do you call those? — little polyvinyl sleeves,
I guess. A sheet protector, I keep that
in a sheet protector in a notebook where I have notes
and e-mails and copies of chats and all those kinds of things pertaining to what I do
for a living because when I have a bad day,
I can go back to my notebook. When I think, “Gosh, I wonder
if anybody got that,” I can go back to my notebook, and this one in particular
just always moves me. So I want people to get
a feeling from that story, don’t I? I want people to really get
the heart of Linda Bruno from that story. So with that being said, you might want to print
your handouts for today. They came with the invitation
to the link that you could sign
on into the webinar, so if you
go back to that e-mail, if you don’t happen to have them
printed in front of you, you can print them
from that link because LeAnn
attached them for you. So you might want to do that because this is one of those
what I call an evergreen topic. It’s something that you can use
for as long as you work in the library, the information
we’re going to talk about today. So thinking about stories,
I want to ask you — I’ve kind of touched on what
the importance is for me in my profession,
but would you all — And there are, I’m going to say,
probably 10 or 11 of us outside Deb
and LeAnn and myself. I’d like for each one of you
to type into the chat box why it’s important for you
to encourage and collect stories
in your library. Why did you come today? Why do you think it’s important
for you to collect stories
in your library? Would you go ahead and type
that into the chat box? And there are no right
or wrong answers. It’s about you and your library,
isn’t it? I see several of you typing. Sharon said, “We can use them
for training new staff.” Absolutely, Sharon.
You know what? I’m going to expand on that,
something I don’t know that I’d thought of before, but maybe even in the hiring
process, right, Sharon? If you’re interviewing somebody
and you’re trying to give them a sense of who you are
as an organization and you, you know, you’re going
to tell them the pay, and you’re going to tell them
the hours they will work and maybe how many things
you have in circulation and what the details
of the job would be, but what if after
you get all of that or in the middle
of that you said, “To give you an example,
here is something that happened just the other day,”
and you told a story? That might engage that prime
person, that prime prospect
for that job, to the point where they would
want to come and work for you. Kelly said, “It justifies
services beyond numbers, the community impact.” Very important word,
right, Kelly? Because nowadays, if you
don’t have an impact, you don’t get any money, and there are still
people out there that are very set
on the statistics, and as I said,
I never want to say, “Don’t use statistics.
We don’t need statistics.” I never want to say that. What I’m trying to say here is
that shouldn’t be our sole focus because when we can
engage people’s emotions and let them see that impact, it makes a difference,
doesn’t it? Circulation doesn’t tell
the impact, does it? Circulation just says, “This is how many books
that were checked out,” and maybe one person checked out
10 percent of those. It really doesn’t
show the impact. Alyssa said, “To show
that patrons are more than
just statistics.” Exactly, and, “How much
the library impacts them.” There’s that word again. They are more than just
statistics, so much more. Zenobia said, “Because it makes
the library come alive.” I love that.
You come alive. Statistics aren’t alive. They’re just there,
and they tell me some things, but they don’t really
come alive, and as Lisa said, “Make it more interesting
and value our impact.” Judy
said, “Numbers are static.” That’s a great way
to put it and unemotional. Stories make people listen
and have an impact when you’re trying to put
forth a new program or try to do something
like discontinuing fines because you can tell how that
has an impact, can’t you? Kathleen said, “It makes staff
and patrons feel valued.” Absolutely. You know, I like having a good
high number for my evaluations, but it doesn’t tell me
really how people feel. Some people just don’t want
to hurt your feelings. There are other people who don’t care
if they hurt your feelings. I can remember
one time I was — I tell this story
because it’s kind of amusing. I did a program
on emotional intelligence, which makes this
really ironic because there were
a whole group of people that were told that morning
they had to attend my program. Now, that is not something
that a trainer wants to hear because they’re already mad
at Linda Bruno before they ever walk in. So when I asked them to fill
out an evaluation for me, They would fill out one
for their employer as well, but I wanted
the evaluation for me so that I could
tweak my program and make sure I was giving
what I needed to give. I said to them,
“What was your score?” And somebody gave me a two
out of 10, which sort of makes me gasp. You know, I have heart
palpitations, and then I always ask, “If it wasn’t a 10,
what would have made it a 10?” And I turned over
that particular card, and it said,
“Your hair is too short.” So there are people out there
that are kind of mean and not very nice, but, you know,
it’s just part of the deal. Yes, Kelly, “Dollars.”
We like that. Absolutely.
“To build a community.” I like the first one, Ilena. “To build a community unit” — I like that, too,
and I know you meant unity. Yeah, Kelly. That kind of —
I just wanted to sit down and have a cup of coffee
with those people and with that person that put
that my hair was too short, but Ilena put,
“To build a community unit,” and isn’t that — Even though I think
she meant the word, “unity,” you want to build
a community unit, don’t you? Because what if you need help
with something? What if you need
somebody to advocate for you? So here are some of the ideas
when I was putting this together a couple months ago
to get ready for today because this is
a brand-new topic that we’re talking about for
SWFLN developed just for them, and some of the things that I
talked about is, number one, it kind of takes the pulse of
your community, too, doesn’t it? When you really start getting
intentional about paying attention
to stories in your library, you may see the areas that are
most important to your community because those are
the stories that surface. Those are the ones
that bubble to the top, and so it might give you
a whole different window into what you’re providing
for your community. So number one
on your handouts is, “It takes the pulse
of your community.” It helps you understand
the needs because you can see what’s
really resonating with them, what’s really making
a difference with them. As several of you alluded to, it helps other people
see what you see because you probably wouldn’t be
in this room today if you didn’t already think
your library had an impact on your community. Most of the people I talk to
that work in the library field, which is all I deal with,
most of the people say they’re certainly not in it
for the money. I totally get that. Me either, but that they make
a difference, and there are people out there, you could probably name some,
that look at you and say, “Well, all you do
is check out books,” and that’s not seeing
what you see, is it? That’s not seeing the heart
of your library, so that’s another good reason to
think about collecting stories. And by the way, when I talk
about collecting stories, here is one of the things
I like to suggest to people because I’ve talked
about stories to other groups. I haven’t done this
particular program, but when I ask people
to collect stories, if I’m face-to-face with them, I hand out
neon-colored index cards for them to start thinking about
the stories in their libraries, and I always suggest
go buy a pack of these at Staples or Office Depot
or wherever it might be, and put them in the break room, or put them behind
the circ desk, or put them someplace
where almost — well, every employee
will see them. Put them someplace
where everybody will see them. Explain to people
what you’re doing. Have people write the stories
that they come across on those neon-colored
index cards so that you actually end up
with a history of what you mean
to your community, and then we’ll talk about later
how you can use those, as some of you
have already touched on. So that’s what I mean
by collecting them. We think we can collect them
just in our minds, but I don’t know about you. There’s a whole bunch of stuff
coming in and out of my mind on a daily basis these days, and so if you just put me
on the spot and said, “Tell me your favorite story,” I would tell you the story
of Emily that I just read you, but I’ve got dozens of others that are
just as meaningful to me. I have them written down
in my notebook, but I don’t have them
top of mind like I do Emily’s, so that’s another reason
to write them down, and they don’t have to write
a book or a chapter or even a page,
just enough details to really show you
what happened in that situation. And in these handouts, we’ll talk about
what those details need to be so that you never lose
that particular story because they are forever,
aren’t they? If something happened last year
that was phenomenal in your library,
that doesn’t go away just because
you start a new fiscal year. It should be something
that you keep on hand to know your impact over time as well. Number three says, “It shows
how your library has changed.” I bet if I asked all of you
to raise your hands if your library has changed
in the last 5 years, I suspect everybody in the room
would raise their hands. Yes, exactly, Kelly.
Yeah. Some of you are already
doing that, and if we don’t change,
we don’t stay, do we? We don’t exist anymore because
our community is going to demand that change just based on how
our society is moving forward. So those stories show
that maybe a story you had — and you can pull from your
history and from your memory, and you can go back 4 years, and you can say, “I can remember
when we weren’t doing X, Y, Z, but John, who’s a father
of three, came in, and he had lost his job
and blah, blah, blah.” And I don’t mean, “Blah, blah,
blah,” in a negative way. I just don’t want to try
to create a story that I’m not familiar with, but that’s what was important
at that time, “But now John comes in
for story time with his story time
with his children, and one of his children
is on the autism spectrum and spoke for the first time
at library story time,” or something like that, and you actually show
that growth of your library, that continual fluidity,
if you will. You’re very flexible. You’re very in tune
with your community, so it will show
how your library has changed. It gets more people in the door. If you start telling stories — People love to tell stories
out in your community. They’re going to share
those stories, aren’t they? If you make a point of saying,
“So, LeAnn, tell me how that job search came out,” then LeAnn is going to remember
that the reason she got the job was that you helped
with her resume and her interviewing skills,
and now she’s really excited. As a matter of fact,
I got an e-mail just yesterday from somebody
that was applying for a new job, and we had talked
about a few things, and I didn’t influence
that person at all, but I got the e-mail saying,
“I got the job,” you know? And that’s part of my story,
is I get excited because I’m engaged
with those people. It will get more people
in your door, and that’s always
a positive thing. It describes an exciting event
or program. You tend to not realize
how exciting some of the things you do are, how unusual some of
the things you do are. I was reading
an American Libraries journal a couple of days ago. They tend to pile up on me
because I get so many journals, and it was about a library
that does beekeeping and talks to people about the
number of not species of bees, kinds of bees that there are that can be helpful
to the community and all that kind of stuff,
and who would ever think? I bet you half of your community wouldn’t think about you
doing something like that, so it describes something
that’s exciting, that people would not normally
connect with your library. It builds bonds, the unity
that Ilena was talking about. People can’t experience
something monumental to them at your library and not have a special
attachment to it, right? It would build that bond
among your staff and the community members. I bet some of you have
experienced people coming to your library, and they only want
to talk to one person because that’s the person
that helped them find a job or that’s the person
that helped them find a resource
on a health issue or that’s the person
that did story time and got your 4-year-old interested in reading
or whatever it is. It builds those bonds
between your staff and your library as a whole and the people that are out
in your community, so that’s something
we want to do. When you have bonds,
people trust you. People want to help you. People support you. Number seven,
“It engages more partners.” What do you think
I mean by that? Would you type it
into the chat box? What do you think I mean by,
“Engages more partners,” when you have stories to tell? Christie said, “It gives a voice
to members and not just staff.” Absolutely, to the community. “People kind of relate,”
Alyssa said. Yeah. Kelly also said, “They want
to be part of that narrative. They want to help fellow
community members as well.” Sharon said, “It broadens their
view of what we can offer them.” And think about the partners
in your community. Think about
the social-service agencies that you probably partner with
without even realizing it. Can you think of any? Go ahead and type them
into the chat box. I see a couple of you
are typing. Parks department, schools,
community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs,
food pantries, free preschool,
parks and rec, transit. Look at the number
in the chat box with just three people
responding, the number of partners that are
out there and available to you. Now, let’s say that people
in the parks department happen to be doing
a presentation at a community center
and they use a story that was actually developed
through library participation to talk to the people
at the community center who maybe you don’t
currently interact with, and all of a sudden, you engage
more partners, don’t you? Because the people
at the community center may have thought, “I never really thought
about the library doing that,” but the parks department
got excited about your stories. After-school programs,
absolutely, so just think about that. We know if we spent
a few minutes on this, if we were face-to-face
and just did sort of a little work group on this, we could probably come up
with several dozen partners that different libraries
engage with, but think about the fact
that you can expand that and get more partners because they’re the ones
sitting there going, “I had no idea.” Runner’s clubs, tax preparers, veteran service,
health departments. Now, let’s just take
all of those answers and kind of interweave them
and think about one of them not being aware
of what the library does and how that might affect what they think
they can get from your library. Let’s take tax preparers
and veteran services and say, “Okay, one of those does not
actually do anything with our library currently,” but if there’s a group of tax
preparers or financial advisors or whatever it might be
in your community and they work
with the veterans and the veterans
didn’t know anything about what could be offered
at your library, all of a sudden, you’ve opened
a whole new world, haven’t you? If somebody says, “You know,
they have a program at the library specifically
tailored to veterans working on their resumes
and their interviewing skills,” we did that here in Ocala. It wasn’t through the library
at that time because we had so much
high unemployment the workforce board actually put together
a team to help veterans, and it was specifically
for veterans in that particular case, a 3-day program where we talked
about the psychology of getting out
of the military. We talked about their resumes. We talked about
interviewing skills, which they sorely lacked because a lot of them had been
in the military for a long time. Had one young lady in a program,
and she said, “I really don’t know
what to put on my resume. You know,
I was just doing my job,” which is what the veterans
usually think of it. They just think
they’re doing their job, and I said,
“What are you most proud of that you did
while you were in the military?” She said, “I, on my second day
as an air traffic controller, I averted a midair collision between two
of our own aircraft.” And I said, “Oh, my gosh. How much were
the aircraft worth?” And she said,
“A few million apiece.” And I said, “We need to
research that because you just saved
our government that much money,” and she said,
“Yeah, and I even got invited to lunch with the president.” Not the president of her unit —
there is no such thing. It was the President
of the United States. She got invited to lunch. I would never have known that
had I not asked that question because people are not —
Yeah, wow. People are not used to telling
their stories, are they? Some of you aren’t used
to telling your stories, and that’s why I’m trying
to drag them out of you, and that’s what I would
have to do in that class. I would be so tired when I would go home at night
from those classes because it was like
using a shovel to dig out
the phenomenal work that these people had done
without us even realizing it. One, another lady who was
a fairly petite lady, when I asked that question,
she said, “I did a one-man carry.” I said, “What are you
talking about?” And she said, “Someone had
gotten injured in a battle, and the surgeon was not
permitted to leave the tent to help me rescue that person, so I had to go out
and carry them in my myself.” I’m thinking to myself,
“How do you even do that?” But the story was so compelling. Kelly said, “It’s hard
to advocate sometimes. We have” — Yes. We can’t be afraid
to blow our own horn. That’s exactly right, but you’re not blowing
your own horn, are you? Really you’re just
telling stories. I had somebody in a program
like that once say to me, “I’m not going to brag.” I took a deep breath,
and I said, “How is anybody ever going
to know what you can do for them if you don’t tell them
what you’re capable of doing? It’s not bragging
if it’s the truth.” How is anybody in your community
going to know what you’re capable of doing
for your community if you don’t tell them? See, you’re putting a burden
on them if you don’t tell them. You’re expecting them
to fight for you, to defend you, to advocate for you,
to do all those things, and yet you’ve not
given them any ammunition. All they know is there’s a
building that has books and computers and story time
and things like that, but you need to give them
the ammunition, don’t you? Zenobia said, “Health bus
gives free shots — hepatitis A, etcetera — and we get free tax
preparation for the public.” Exactly, a lot of people
don’t even know that, do they? It’s how libraries have changed and morphed
really kind of into — I’ve heard them called
community centers now. I’ve ever heard them gone so far
as to say social-service agencies in some respects,
so engage those partners. The more you engage
the partners, the more you engage the
individuals in your community. It connects the library
to the soul of your community. I just like that term,
and that’s what it is, isn’t it? Because the more stories
you tell, as I said earlier, the more you start to sense what’s really important
to your community, what’s really impacting them, what’s really
making that difference, and that’s the soul
of your community, isn’t it? That’s what you’re trying to
accomplish, is be in tune with that so that you can help the soul
of your community be healthy, whether that’s
physically healthy, mentally healthy,
spiritually healthy, financially healthy — anything. That’s the soul
of your community. Zenobia said, “We also lend
musical instruments, hot spot free Wi-Fi,”
yep, “fishing poles, tools.” Absolutely. I talked to a library
at a conference one time that loaned out cake pans, you know,
just any number of things because whatever is important
in your community. Libraries are doing
a lot with gardens now and then bringing
in nutritionists and things like that to teach
people how to be healthy. Think about this. I don’t have any idea
what your ages are, but I will tell you that
I’ve been around long enough that if you had told me
this that many years ago, and I’m thinking even 10
or 12 years ago, that you would be doing
some of these things, I would have laughed. Not to be mean,
but I would have thought, “There’s no way a library
is going to do that. They do books
and computers, right?” There are still people out there
that have those feelings, so we need to make sure
they are aware of what we do. Here is one that we
don’t often think about. It keeps your library focused
on its mission, doesn’t it? If you’re telling stories
and the stories are all about something totally
different than your mission, then it might be time
to take a step back and revise your mission. If you’re making decisions
based on your mission, but that’s not where
your stories are coming from, there might be a mismatch there,
so you want to make sure that what you’re doing
in your library matches your mission
and your vision and the values of your library, and those stories
will almost subtly tell you if you are aligning
with your library’s mission because you will see
by the kinds of stories you’re getting
what kind of impact you’re making on your community. Number 10 is one that probably
scares a lot of you, and that is it could develop
your public speaking skills. How many of you, would you just
type yes or no in the chat box, are ever asked to speak to
maybe a community group, a civic organization,
any other groups? I see several yeses. Are you all starting to see
how this could really help what you speak
to the public about? You could start off
by saying — Yes, exactly, Judy,
with fund-raising. You could say a statistic because you want to get
their attention when you’re doing
public speaking. So you could say, “Did you know
your library has 57,212 books? We have 19 computers,” and you could give
a few other statistics. Then you could say, “And that’s
all really important, but you know what really
matters in our library?” And then you tell your story,
and then you’ve got them in the palm of your hand,
as they say, right? And you know what?
When you have a story to tell and you know
that story inside out because it nurtures
your own heart, public speaking is not public
speaking any longer. You’re just there telling
a story, and it can relieve you
of the pressure that the words, “public speaking,”
tend to put on us because you’re going to
give them some stuff that they need
about the library, but then you’re going
to talk to them about why your library
is so important by using a story or two. I can remember one story. I’ve had dozens of stories
told to me over the years, especially since I started
talking about stories about 3 or 4 years ago, but I can remember
one in particular where they were talking
about a little boy who was visually challenged, and he would come into
the library with his mom, and he knew that
there were bookmarks sitting at the circ desk,
so every time he would come in, he would run up
and grab a bookmark, and, of course,
he couldn’t read the bookmark, but it was something for free, and doesn’t every little kid
like something for free? So he’d run up
and get the bookmark. So the staff got together,
and they said, “How could we make this
a special experience,” I’ll use the name,
“for Sam?” the little boy. And they said, “What if
we got a braille imprinter and we imprinted a bookmark
just like the other bookmarks, but we imprinted it
with his name and some little, ‘Welcome to the library,’ or, ‘We’re so glad to see you,’
or whatever it is?” So they did that.
They got together. They ordered some kind
of a braille marker. They made his bookmark, and they
kept it behind a counter. They pretty much knew
what day he would come in, and when they saw him
coming up to other door, they put it
in the bookmark tray. And he came running in
like he always did, and he grabbed ahold
of the bookmark, and he stopped because
he could feel the braille, and he got so excited
with his mom, and, of course,
she didn’t really make the connection right away until she looked at it closer
and saw the braille. Do you think that made
an impact on Mom? Do you think Mom shared that
with anybody in the community? You think it made Mark or Sam or whatever he was
a lifelong library person? Probably. You think that could be a story
that library could use to talk to civic organizations
and so forth? I think so, so think about that. Maybe, “develops,”
is the wrong word. It can enhance your public
speaking skills. It can make people want you
to come and talk. Now, here is the thing. You don’t want to use
the same story over and over again, do you? That’s why
you need to collect them. What if somebody asks you
once a month to come and speak? It’s Kiwanis.
It’s Rotary. It’s Mothers of Preschoolers. It’s whoever it is. For fund-raising,
it’s civic organizations, but you’ve only really
thought about one story. That’s going to get old
for you for sure, and it’s not going
to be fresh anymore, but possibly old
for them, too, because maybe they’d been
in another group that you’ve spoken to. But if you have a file folder
or a little recipe box with those 3-by-5
index cards in it and over the course of time
you have four. You have eight. You have 21. You have 37, however
many stories pile up, and they will pile up. You can always go through and
weed them out if you want to. I don’t think I would because it’s the history
of your library. It actually is a history
of your library, so think about that. Then the next time
somebody asks you, “Alyssa, would you come
and speak to our association about the library?”
you’re thinking, “Oh, I know just the story
to take with them.” How cool would that be? “Yes, please,” exactly, so,
you know, and here is the other thing
about public speaking: don’t wait for somebody to ask. Once you’ve started accumulating
the stories and you know that you can make
an impact with those people, you can really engage
their minds and their hearts with
the library and its mission, go ahead and contact Kiwanis
and say, “You know, I know you need
speakers from time to time. Would you like us to come
and speak about what the library has to offer?” I’m telling you. Kiwanis, I think,
has 52 meetings a year or 50 or whatever. Rotary has, I think, maybe weekly meetings
sometimes or monthly. There are organizations that are always looking
for engaging speakers, not somebody that’s
going to get up there and say only,
“We have 57,212 books.” Because if that’s all you’re
going to say, it’s not engaging, but if you can wrap
that around everything else that happens at the library
and tell those stories, you will be in demand
as a public speaker. So was there anything else
that you came up with, other reasons that we haven’t
talked about that might be helpful, about why it would be
important to encourage and collect those stories? Okay.
I don’t see anything popping up, so let’s move on towards
the bottom of page one. We know it’s important. It’s why we’re here today. We have a lot of good reasons to really make a concentrated
effort when we leave here today, but we don’t we do it
automatically? Would you type that
into the chat box? What do you think? Why isn’t this an automatic, with all the wonderful
things we do, especially
in more recent years? We’ve always been
wonderful, right? But in more recent years, we’ve really broadened
our own horizons. Why don’t we automatically
collect those stories? Oh, Alyssa, that’s a good point. We’re so used to just tracking
when things go wrong. You said, “Sometimes,”
but I think we’re so used to tracking what goes wrong
in life in general, aren’t we? As human beings, we kind of tend
to go to that, fix that, make sure
everybody is happy. We don’t think about
looking at the positives. “Time,” Susan said, absolutely. We think it would take
a lot of time, but it doesn’t, does it, Susan? If you do the little system
that I mentioned, the 3-by-5 index cards where they’re always laying out
at the circ desk, it takes, what, 32 seconds
to write down enough details that somebody could ask you
what the story actually involves when you’re getting ready
to go out and talk to somebody about it? So really it doesn’t take
a lot of time. It might take
a little bit of time to introduce the concept
at the library the next time
you have a meeting. Somebody’s got to, you know, order the index cards
or whatever, but if you’re placing
office supply orders, that’s a 2-second job. We use that as an excuse, but it really isn’t
time-consuming. Judy
said, “It is time consuming.” But it’s not if we get
into the habit, Judy, of doing it,
and we grab a card. We write down the details. Lisa said, “We forget to be
in the moment,” and that’s part
of that time thing, isn’t it? Because if we forget to be
in the moment, and we remember
and it’s just before we leave, we’re not going
to write it down. Or if we remember in the midst
of taking care of somebody else, we’re not going
to write it down. “Overwhelmed,” absolutely, but do you think
this might be important enough to just make it a habit, to just make it part
of the routine? I don’t consider it a burden
so much or an extra duty as I do a way
to really encourage those bonds
that we talked about. As Zenobia said,
that’s a very good reason, “It hasn’t been encouraged
in the past, and so we’ve never
thought about it.” It’s just part of our jobs,
right? The things that happen,
the stories we hear, that’s all just part of our job. Yes, exactly, Susan. You’ve got to make it
part of the routine, and Zenobia said,
“Administration is too focused on what the complaints are,”
and they should be, right? But not to the exclusion
of the good stuff because what happens is, when we’re only focusing
on the complaints, we think that’s all we get. It’s another reason for us to
be aware of collecting stories because we really can get
very focused on the negative when we’re not focusing
on the good stuff. “Add it to your monthly report.” There you go, just real quick. Add it to the monthly report. “Maybe some people don’t see the
benefit of collecting stories,” and if you don’t after today’s
session, that’s totally okay. There are no employer
encouraging-stories police out there running around, but I hope we’ve delved
deep enough today for you to see that there is
a compelling reason, at least one,
and we talked about several. “It should be compulsory.”
I think so, too, Zenobia. In case you couldn’t tell,
that’s how much I believe in this
because I have heard so many phenomenal stories
from the library. I had a neighbor about a year
and 1/2 ago. We were having, I don’t know,
New Year’s Eve gathering or something, and we were sitting
at the dinner table, a glass of wine
and some appetizers, and he kind of pushed back
his chair a little bit, and, you know,
they all know I work with a lot of
library organizations. They know what I do
for a living, and he said, “Do you think libraries
are even going to be around in a few years?” And I almost choked on my wine,
and I said, “Oh, my gosh. Don’t let my people
hear you say that.” He goes, “Yeah, but, I mean,
you know, people don’t really even read that much anymore.” I had to educate him, folks, and tell him a couple
of the stories that I’ve heard. I said, “I have dozens of those
stories, how libraries are engaged
in their community.” And if I have them —
I haven’t written them down because I don’t work
for those libraries, but if I have those stories,
think about the ones you have, and think about how that
might engage somebody that doesn’t believe
in your mission. Right? So how can we use them? Type in a way
you could use stories. We mentioned a couple
very early. Ilena said, “We used to have
a public evaluation, but not anymore.” Yeah, and you really
just kind of want to hear about your stories from people
talking to you, don’t you? “Celebrating the anniversary
or history of the community,” absolutely, Christie,
or the library itself, right? How cool would it be
if ever year on the anniversary
of your library, this one just popped
into my head, folks, every year on the anniversary
of your library, you did a display on stories
you’ve collected this year? And it doesn’t have to be,
you know, identity-focused where people would know who you
were talking about or anything, just the story
of what happened. What are some other reasons
how we could use those stories? “Begin an introduction
on a positive note,” absolutely. “Let me tell you something fun
that happened at our library. Let me tell you something
that’ll just really make you think, make you appreciate what
you have, whatever it might be.” All of the above, right? When I was making my notes, one of the things
I put down was, “To start and end
your meetings.” Would everybody please
write that on your handouts. Why do you think
that might be important, to start your meeting
on a positive note with a story? Yeah, absolutely.
“It’s part of your power when you’re asking friends
for money,” Susan, absolutely. They need to know why it’s
important for you to get that money, don’t they? And you know what?
Sometimes it clarifies for you. What if you’re going
to the friends to ask for something that you thought
was a good idea, but you realize now
you don’t have any stories that are connected to that? You don’t have anybody
really asking for that. You just heard about it and
thought it would be a good idea. It might clarify things
for you as well. “For a slideshow,” absolutely. “Great reminders, inspiration
for our mission.” When you start a meeting
with a story — First of all, everybody starts
looking for those stories. Secondly, it’s a great time
for us to record them, and when you end
the meeting on a story, it ends it on a positive note. It reminds everybody
how important their jobs are. That right now, for me, would be
one of the biggest reasons I would want to collect stories. Susan, I’m not sure
what you say. There isn’t
kind of PLA outcomes. I’m not sure what
you’re saying there, so help me fill in the blanks
inside my little brain, here. I’m not sure what that means,
but you can use stories if you’re going
through a tough time, where somebody’s telling you
you’re going to cut your budget and all those kinds of things. You could just take a moment
during a meeting to reflect
on the positive stories that you’ve encompassed, that your library encompasses. I’m going to use
that word again. “Grant writing,” maybe you don’t
do the grant writing, but whoever does
the grant writing might be able to use
some really good stories. “Board meetings,” share with
your partners, your collaborators. “Project outcome for
public libraries,” okay, absolutely, stories. You know, the American
Library Association has been talking about stories
for several years with their slogans of,
“Libraries change lives,” or, “transform lives,”
or whatever that was. Several of the slogans
that the Library Association has used have directly related
to stories, haven’t they? Zenobia says, “Stories justify
the presence of the library
in the community.” All of the above. I know we can find reasons,
and I’m going to use that word, even though I think
sometimes they’re excuses because we are just not
in a habit of doing it, but I think there are much
more important reasons for us to make an effort to do it. So let’s talk about some of
the subcategories where we might dig deeper
and find those stories because to just say,
“Okay, go find a library story,” you might think,
“I don’t even have any idea where to start
thinking about that.” Well, technology would be
an area of your library that might have a good story. It might be somebody — You know, the typical thing
that we hear a lot of is Grandma comes in. She’s not sure how to use e-mail
or FaceTime or whatever to connect with her grandkids, and you’re able to do that, and now she’s connected
to her grandkids. It could be that technology
enabled you to help somebody develop
a really cool resume, and they came back
in 3 days later to tell you
they got the job and that the person
hiring them told them it was
because of their resume. You have a technology story? Just real quick,
anything in technology that would be a good story
to think about and get a few more details
put together and put it
in your collection? Maybe somebody that’s housebound
and now instead of having to get
physical books has an e-reader, and you were able
to teach them when they did
get into the library so that they could stay home
most of the time. Maybe they just have 47 pieces
of tech equipment that they don’t know how to use
or apps that they want to use, and they don’t know what they’re
for or how to use them, games to keep them busy, so those are some areas
in technology. How about programming? Give me a story on programming,
anybody. I know you have lots
of programming stories. It could be on finance or health
or nutrition or hobbies or any number of things. Give me a story,
just very briefly. I know your programming
generates a lot of story lines. What’s one of your favorites? And I’m asking you on the spot. Just think how easy this
would be if it became habit, if it was just part
of your process that every day
when you came in, if something popped out to you
as being really cool, something your library
did for somebody, you just jot it down
on an index card. People can always come
and ask you the extra details if they’re going to go out
and talk to somebody about it, but if you’ve got
enough details about maybe the age
of the person, what the situation was,
how you resolved it and what the results
were all on an index card, brief, succinct,
doesn’t take much time. Then people can dig into it a little bit more
and get those stories. Here is a story I heard at
the leadership institute this past year. One of the ladies
gave an example of somebody in her library that was doing
a prison program for women, and she went to the prison, and they finally figured out
that what they wanted to do, this one lady wanted to do
an audio recording of a chapter of a book
to send to her child, and so they did. And a couple weeks later,
the prison called and said, “We need you to come
to the prison.” And she said,
“Yeah, what’d I do wrong?” And I’ve probably got the exact
details, but you’ll get this. I probably got the exact details
a little out of whack here. She went back to the prison,
and the lady, the prisoner, had gotten a tape back
from her child reading the next chapter. Then they figured out
how to video it. Is that not life-changing,
folks? And I just gave you the 6-second
version, but think about that. Lisa said,
“During summer reading, a boy who just started to read could not wait to start to
look at his new book.” Exactly. And you tell the whole story when you’re telling it,
don’t you, Lisa? You talk about the little boy who hadn’t read
up to this point, and now he’s a engaged reader
for life, and he might become
an astronaut or whatever. Who knows? Zenobia said, “I know one of
the branches has tech buddies where a teen assists a senior
or anyone who needs help with their computer
and library apps.” Yes, and then I want you to go
a little bit beyond that. Find the story of a senior
that that really impacted because you have programming. You have services.
You have all of these things. You know they impact people. Find your stories. You don’t have to find
100 stories a month. Find one. You certainly probably have more
than that, and I’m going to encourage you
to write them down whenever you have them,
but I’m not asking here that you’re going to develop
a, you know, Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia
of stories for your library. I’m just saying
be on the lookout. Don’t just think of it, “Yeah. We have a summer reading
program, and 16 kids come.” That’s a statistic. It’s not a story. The story is about
the one child, like I mentioned, maybe it’s a child
who’s never spoken before. Maybe it’s a child who didn’t
talk to anybody else in the group for 3 months and then just slowly
started to make friends, and Mom came up
and told you later that she’s never had
any friends before. It’s those kinds of things. It’s not always something
with fireworks, but you got to dig deeper
than just, “Here are the services
we offer,” to come up with your stories. Don’t make anything up.
That’s not what I’m asking you. So think about technology,
programming and services, tax services somebody
mentioned earlier, those kinds of things. Think about events you have, and don’t just
describe the event. You know, it’s great if you tell
me you have a family festival. That sounds like fun,
except I’m not a family. Give me something
that’s going to move me. You see the difference between
just describing the service
or event or program and actually pulling out
an individual story? Because most of it happens
in the category that comes next: that’s everyday activities. Most of the stories happen in your everyday activities,
don’t they? Whether it is programming
or services or whatever, it’s usually just something that happens
in the course of your day, which is one of the reasons
we don’t always recognize them because it’s, quote,
“What we do.” There may be stories
within your partnerships. If you ever get a moment, look up
Twinsburg Library in Ohio and their partnership
with everybody from the health department
to transportation. There are seven or eight
partnerships they have created
simply from trying to make sure one little boy
got library services. It’s a phenomenal story,
and it’s real, and I’ve e-mailed them back
and forth a couple of times to get updates to see how
they’re doing with that story. So think about those
partnerships and collaborations that you have,
social-service agencies that you collaborate with, your workforce board
that you might collaborate with, everyday activities
like faxing. Somebody couldn’t close
on their house because they didn’t know
how to use a fax machine or whatever it was, and they were at risk
of losing their deposit. Do you see how that story
comes about? And again, we don’t have
to share names or dates or anything like that, just the story of why
the library is important. So let’s take a look at this. When we’re talking about
key components of a story, you want it
to be a real person. You want to say,
“We had a patron” — No, that’s not
what you want to say, because if you’re talking to
other people about your story, the word, “patron,”
doesn’t resonate with them. The word, “little boy,” does. The word, “a woman who had
lost her job,” does. Again, you don’t have
to have names. You don’t have to ages. You just need to tell me
about this real person. The next component might be
the problem or the situation or the concern
or the issue or the incident,
any of the above. So you start out with,
“A little boy came in, and he was afraid
of the reading dog.” That’s the problem. “And he was really anxious
about being around dogs.” What did the library do? Now, you don’t want to focus on, “Here is the library!
We saved the day!” You’re just telling the story
of the little boy. It’s a little boy’s story,
isn’t it? It’s what the library
did to help, but it’s the little boy’s story. So what did the library
do in a supporting role to help that little boy? “So we decided to bring
in the reading dog twice a week and let the little boy come
and sit wherever he wanted to sit,
and after four visits, he kept inching closer
and closer until last Tuesday. He actually reached out
to pet the dog.” So what was the library’s
intervention or supporting role? The library is what made
that possible, isn’t it? You’re not going to go around
thumping your chest, doing anything like that. You’re just sharing with people
that you made a difference in that little boy’s life
by paying attention to the fact that he was nervous and anxious
about being close to a dog. And so you just made sure
that at his own pace, he was able to move closer
to the dog. Now, maybe this happened
6 months ago and Mom just came in last week
to say, “He asked for his own puppy because he was comfortable
at the library with the reading dog.” I’m making all of that up,
obviously, but you have things like that
happen all the time, don’t you? Because you want to give people
what actually happened then, and again,
it doesn’t have to be fireworks. It’s not a big deal. I mean, how many people would
get excited that, you know, because of the library
a little boy got a puppy? That’s not really
going to excite me, but if you tell me
the story about how he was afraid to be
in the same room with a dog and you just let him
sit right outside the door or whatever that story
comes out to be and that Mom now told you that
he wanted to get his own puppy because the library
was a safe place, which libraries are,
for him to be exposed to the dog rather than go into a shelter
and be mauled. Not physically mauled, but,
you know, jumped on and licked and all that kind of stuff,
which would scare him even more. So what, then, happened, the “aha” moment
of that particular story? And then try to come up
with something that you can say, like the American
Library Association did. “That’s why libraries
change lives.” You come up with
a little tagline, especially if you’re speaking
to the Kiwanis or a social organization
or whatever it might be. You want to wrap that story up
with a tagline that shows the impact
of your library. Again, it’s not your library’s
story, per se. It’s the little boy,
but you can say, “And that’s how
we change lives.” And if you tell two stores, and maybe one is about
a younger person and one is about
an older person, you could say at the end, “And that’s how we change lives
from young to old, from A to Z,” whatever you want to call it. So you want to have something
that libraries change lives. Sometimes libraries save lives,
don’t they? Sometimes it’s just that
libraries make a difference, and I use the word, “just” because that’s not, like,
saving lives, but that’s why libraries
make a difference. You want to have something
that you feel comfortable saying about your library.
What might that be? Let me just throw that
out to you. I know we’ve got
a couple minutes here, and we’re going to wrap it up
in just a moment. But what might be your phrase, that after you talk to somebody
and told them your story, and let’s say
it’s a Kiwanis club, and they ask you
to come and speak. You’ve got your statistics
ready. You’ve got a couple
of really good stories. How would you end that talk
with a phrase that pays? Obviously you’re not selling
anything or anything like that, but it’s going to impact them, and it’s going to
make you memorable and your library memorable. Just think of a phrase
that you might come up with about your own library. And if you can’t think
of one today, you can always use the American
Library Association’s phrases, and I think they’ve had
two or three at least
over the last few years. Poke around in there
on their website, and you can probably find
some things that you could use. “Libraries are a gateway to anything you can imagine
or dream about.” Think about that. Now, if you just got up,
Zenobia, and you told me that at a talk
after you’d given me statistics and given me
all the dry stuff — I’ll use the term, “dry stuff.”
I knew what you meant. — it wouldn’t really be
meaningful, would it? Zenobia just spouted off
all these statistics which are true and are real
and are important, and then she says,
“Libraries are a gateway to anything you can imagine
or dream about.” That’s a great mission statement
or a vision statement, but it’s not really
going to move me. It’s not really going to
sink into me because I don’t work there
unless you attach it to a story. So if you tell me the story,
and then you say, “Libraries are a gateway to anything you can imagine
or dream about,” because of the story
you just told me, you got my attention now. But if you just use the tagline because it’s part of
your mission statement, yeah. I hear it.
It’s a mission statement. Oh, well.
Let’s go have lunch. Right? You see how that all connects? You’ve got to be passionate
about those stories. You’ve got to be passionate
about why those stories are important. So think about
what you story is. I’m not going to ask you
to type it in the chat box. I appreciate all
your participation today because that’s what helps
other people see how they can use
this information, but I am going to encourage you
to think about this after we leave
the webinar today, to grab, if it’s just a white index card
or whatever kind of a card you might have laying around
and start your story collection before you even get
your neon cards. And the reason I say,
“Neon cards,” is they’ll be so obvious. People will see them
laying at the circ desk, and if you talked about it
at a meeting or whatever, they’ll know
what those are for. White index cards are just
going to blend in with all the paperwork you
probably process during a day. They’re not going
to get attention. Do something that’s
attention-getting, and a 3-by-5 card — If you don’t think 3-by-5
is big enough, do the 4-by-6’s, but start
your story collection today. It’s never going to be
non-useful. You will always find
a use for it. We talked about
several uses already, and you’ll always
find a use for it. So I want to thank you
for being here today. When you have a chance, go back through items
A through E and fill in the blanks
for your library. That’s how
you can get started. Who’s the real person? What was
the situation? How did
the library help? What actually happened? And then the phrase
that pays. Just jot those down and see how quick
that goes. You could
actually print your 3-by-5 cards
or 4-by-6 cards with real person,
situation, library’s role, what happened and the phrase
that pays and just have people
fill in the blanks like a little
template. So think about getting your index cards. Thank you all
for being here. Thank you for sharing
in the chat box and helping
everybody else that was in the room
today. I’ll see you
next time. Go and collect
those stories. Thanks, everybody. Beckwith:
Thank you, Linda, for an informative
webinar. Attendees, if you
enjoyed this webinar, we ask
that you join us on Wednesday,
September 11th, at 2 p.m. for Linda’s
next webinar, “Be a Manager
and a Leader: Manage Yourself
and Your Time.” As always,
we encourage you to keep an eye on
the SWFLN CE calendar, SWFLN Facebook page or your messages
from the LISTSERV for more training. Thank you, everyone,
for attending, and have a terrific
rest of your day.

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