She decided to start talking about her time at the Dallas Public Library in 2008, where she faced some tough times. She became the director of Chattanooga in 2012, and it was ripe for change. At the time, that library was one of the worst in the country.
They serve 170K people, have 4 locations and have a $6 million budget. They have access to high-speed broadband that is publicly owned. They were a city-county library, and now just a city library. Thus, the library is only 5 years old and they are acting like a start up.
They developed 4 initiatives. She started working on cleaning the library. She showed some picture of the library with old bookshelves. They received some new furniture and she also wanted coffee. They developed “Circulation and Percolation.” The circ staff was trained as baristas, but other duties were taken away. She said they have embraced it and took ownership of it. This is more about adding value and less about money.
She talked about the 4th Floor project where there was storage and stuff. They cleared it and it became a maker and event space. She also cleaned up the collections and reduced the quantity of the materials.
All of this was a lot of change, and some staff and friends people were not happy. She realized that it didn’t matter what she did, because the people who did things as they allways did would not change. She showed a photo of what she looked like when the auditor report came out. She talked about leadership and how battered she felt at this time. An organization has to be constantly led.
She said, as a leader, you have to plan what success looks like. Commanders have to be ok with failure, because the important part is getting to the hill.
She thinks it takes 3-5 years to change the culture of an organization.