Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Library Experience: Leave Your Mark

The whole idea behind leaving a mark is about doing good in the community.  Seems easy enough.  The library is a cornerstone of the community, after all.  Unfortunately, in times of financial hardship constituents often forget about the library and the value it brings to the community at large.  Joseph Michelli's fifth and final principle in The Starbucks Experience, Leave Your Mark, explains how to have a positive impact on the community and keep them coming back.  While this principle is directly targeted to for-profit companies, the idea behind the principle is still the same - partner with the community and the community will partner with you.  Let's break this down into two parts:

Great leadership is just one of the many keys to success - but it's a big one.  It's no secret that happy workers are a byproduct of quality leadership.  You can indirectly impact the community just by having a positive impact on your staff.  I've discussed library leadership in the past and, although every leader has his/her own style, they all have one thing in common - motivation.  Leaders know how to motivate staff to do their best.  When staff feel supported they tend to perform their job at a higher level and that makes customers happy.  It's a trickle down theory of sorts.

Outreach has become an integral part of spreading the word about the library.  Appearing at community festivals and PTA meetings are an excellent way to engage new customers.  Sometimes, however, you have to kick it up a notch.  When other organizations crop up, "leaders could be far more effective if they searched for common ground that could lead to successful partnerships," says Michelli.  Partnering with other organizations will help the library thrive because it opens up the ability to reach out to new users through another organization.  By forming a symbiotic relationship, both organizations can provide referrals, co-sponsor events, and advocate for one another.

Ultimately, before you can leave a mark you have to consider what kind of impact you want to have on your community.  Think of the things you would like to accomplish within the community and let the five principles lead you there.  Just in case you've forgotten, the five principles are:

Principle #1: Make It Your Own
Principle #2: Everything Matters
Principle #3: Surprise and Delight
Principle #4: Embrace Resistance
Principle #5: Leave Your Mark

So, what lasting impression do you want to leave on your community?

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