The AALL Spectrum
® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum
Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com
12/4/2014 3:46:48 PM
Why Your Library’s Workplace Culture Is Important & How You Can Change It
"Workplace culture refers to conditions that collectively influence the work atmosphere. These can include policies, norms, and unwritten standards for behavior"
(Kelly Blessinger, Ed.
This past year, I have had the good fortune to participate
in the Lead
with Authority: AALL Leadership Academy
and to take the AALL Law Library
Managerial Leadership Online Course
. I’d like to share some of the things
that I took away from these professional development opportunities and to weave it into another
thing that I did this last year. I attended one morning of Atlantic LNG Company
’s week-long award
Safety Village in Point Fortin, Trinidad.
Atlantic LNG Company of Trinidad and
Photo kindly provided by C.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice
President Corporate Operations.
At the opening, COO
Arlene Chow engaged the audience of employees, contractors and a few family
members by asking questions about safety. The atmosphere was both fun and
sincere (in keeping with the national culture). As she walked through the
seated crowd, reminding them of accidents
that had happened in liquefied natural gas plants in other countries, she
reminded them of the horrors that they had avoided at Atlantic LNG because of
their concerted safety efforts. She played a video similar to this one of an accident that resulted in
explosion in the Pemex gas facility in Mexico.
To understand the achievement
of Atlantic LNG in having an enviable
safety record, you need to understand the Trinidadian
carnival culture (large scale organized fun and cyclical
time) and the Trinidadian
national character (aggressive independence). Trinidadians do not like
rules and do not have respect for rules (especially chupid rules)
just because they are rules (anyone who knows me is probably rolling on the
floor laughing right now).
I noticed that one of the stalls at the Safety Village had a
sign up, “Culture trumps strategy every time.”
It is not that culture replaces strategy, but strategic
endeavors by upper management need to be aligned with the culture. Both the COO
and the CEO of Atlantic LNG are visibly and consistently committed to safety.
The participation of the highest levels of management in the
pre-shutdown safety event, is a key component of the culture
of safety. Although the current CEO, Nigel Darlow,
was unable to attend Safety Village 2014, in his absence, COO Chow gave the
opening speech. Darlow’s absence was notable because he is a known advocate for
the culture of safety. Darlow consistently communicates his commitment by
sharing his personal observations of safety matters in a weekly email update to
all staff which always begins
with a note on safety issues. The culture of safety requires more than a united
unidirectional message from the administration. It depends on every employee
and contractor internalizing safety rules. When safety equipment is hot and
bothersome to wear and when safety procedures are long or complicated and delay
the end of the work day, employees (especially Trinidadian employees) are not
going to follow them just because they are told to. They are much more likely
to follow them if there is an agreement within the group that these safety
precautions are of utmost importance. They must be socialized to put safety first
and no amount of top down strategic planning can replace that.
what do safety rules have to do with library leadership? In, libraries,
especially academic libraries, the stakes are extremely low by comparison with
a liquefied natural gas plant. Many librarians chose this career because they
perceived that they would have a low stress job. Librarians are generally not
like law-defying Trinidadians. They are not the kinds of people who refuse to
wear safety gear because they are too hot. But when the stakes are low, and
when morale is low, the chasm between the Trinidadian national character and
the typical librarian character grows smaller. In other words, if a library has
a “sick” culture, that is, a culture where, “[s]taff are unhappy and going
through the motions -- either waiting things out, or actively looking to jump
Mary), “culture [will eat] strategy for breakfast” (Peter Drucker).
take a moment to acknowledge that the culture at some libraries leaves much to
be desired. By contrast, the cultures
of the best workplaces tend to reflect the growing respect that employers
have for the values of Millennials.
“Flexibility in where
they work and how much they work is also a key driver in Millennial
satisfaction. This view differs in importance from that of the non-Millennial
generation, which places greater importance on pay and development
Learnings: Pricewaterhouse Coopers).
Some rights reserved
now, many of you have seen articles about Millennials
and their values
towards the workplace. When their
attitudes are viewed alongside the facts about employment laws and benefits
countries, it becomes increasingly clear that the academic library standard
of a 9-5
workweek with 22
vacation days and limited
maternity leave is unlikely to be enough to attract and retain Millennials.
Looking at the best workplaces
for Millennials, many of the same characteristics appear: clear
communication about rights and responsibilities, feedback/mentoring and
recognition, work/life balance, flexible schedules, unlimited
leave time and fun
perks such as free, healthy food, free gym memberships.
“Take any highly successful company and you will find a very
strong culture!” (Braun,
understandable that library leaders may not have the power or authority to
change the policies that determine how many hours per week library staff work
or how many vacation days they get, but they can do three things. The first is
to know the
culture. Pay attention to the individuals who thrive in your workplace. In
what way(s) does the workplace culture support their success. What does your
workplace reward and punish? Who gets to make decisions? The answer to these
questions will reveal a lot about what your
workplace culture is like.
second thing you can do is to be authentic and be transparent about the
culture. Talk to your employees about it in a nonjudgmental way. What are the
things that you cannot change? You and your employees need to get on board with
accepting those things.
the courage to change the things that you can change. Changing the culture does
not happen overnight, but perhaps there are small things that you can do to
change the culture within a subsection of the library. Start by being the change you want to
see within the group of people with whom you hold the most influence. According to former CEO Oscar Prieto, here’s
how Atlantic LNG promulgated a culture of safety, “The safety culture at
Atlantic was affirmed through consistent messaging in internal communications,
employee participation in safety observations and audits and the increased
presence of HSE Technicians [safety specialists] during facility maintenance
LNG Sustainability Report 2009).
other words, the administration did not merely devise a strategic safety plan
or a safety initiative and then require their employees to implement it. They
demonstrated their commitment to safety by being consistent in their message. They
used words, and provided opportunities for staff and contractors to learn by
seeing and evaluating safety procedures and they spent money to have more
safety specialists available to be “cultural luminaries, people who symbolize
your culture's values and can pass these values on to others” (Donohue,
Mary). They effectuated this cultural change by focusing everyone on the Why. Why
are they doing this? To keep everyone safe from the tremendous harm that can
happen when safety procedures are not loyally adhered to during a LNG plant
begin influencing cultural change in your library, here are a few practical
things that you can do:
Do not create or unnecessarily enforce dumb
in word and deed the cultural values that you want to spread.
Reward behavior that reflects the desired
Discourage behaviors that work against the
spread of the desired cultural values.
Be consistent. Your verbal and non-verbal
communication should match and employees exhibiting similar negative behaviors
should not be treated differently (eg. some rewarded and some punished).
you’ve read this far, please consider commenting below.
- What is the culture at your library?
- What will you do to be an agent of positive cultural change at work?
© C. Deane
Reference/Foreign and International Law Librarian/Lecturer in Law
Alyne Queener Massey Law Library
Posted By 12/4/2014 3:46:48 PM
11/18/2014 1:46:38 PM
I Won!!! Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Posted on behalf of Michael Timpani, MLS
I won the National Library Week National Contest put on by Lexis/Nexis.
I chose, out of all the Presidential libraries and museums in the country, to
visit California and see the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
The Ronald Reagan
Presidential Library and Museum
40 Presidential Drive
Simi Valley, California 93065
Main Phone: 800-410-8354 or
The Center has 2 areas, the library and the museum.
When I signed in at the desk, I asked if I could chat with a librarian
that works at the Reagan library. So eventually, Ray Wilson came up from the
basement and introduced himself as an archivist and took me down so I could see
the library. We chatted with each other comparing work notes about how
different and how similar are jobs are.
Ray mentioned that they try to put everything a person could ask for on
the Reagan website.
http://www.reagan.utexas.edu. He quoted to me that 90% of the requests
are told they would have to come here and do their research and about 10% they
send out in PDF’s or material to the public. He noted that there is not a lot
of time during the day or employees to take care of all the e-mailed questions,
the questions are mostly referred to the website to answer.
The rest of the center is the museum. It is what you would expect from
something like a Smithsonian Museum exhibits and wings. The Center covered all
the aspects of Reagan’s life from his childhood, to his movie career, to his political
life, how he met Nancy etc. There was a section dedicated to the day he was
shot, with a looped film reel showing the incident and another film showing a
recreation of his recovery in a DC hospital. Nancy Reagan had a section devoted
to her and her fashion and dresses.
Also the Center had a hangar/eating area, which reproduced Air Force
One 1, life size with the jet sectioned out so you could walk through it and
see what it really was like to be on Air Force One.
There was a also a section about bringing the Berlin wall down, the
history of the Secret Service and also a car exhibit of famous cars of
Famous Hollywood Cars Exhibit
I was impressed and surprised with all the extra exhibits and things
there at the center, so if you are ever in California in Simi Valley around the
town of West Lake Village, go and visit the Reagan Center.
Michael Timpani, MLS
Research and Information Resources Specialist
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Posted By 11/18/2014 1:46:38 PM
11/17/2014 5:39:51 PM
Does your law library own the ten best legal movies of all time?
As we all know, law libraries aren’t just about books. We
like to share our materials in all shapes, sizes, and formats. DVDs, eBooks,
Websites, traditional print materials, etc. Today’s post focuses on a format ,
and resource, that law libraries of all types should be aware of—the top 10
legal movies of all time*—on DVD!
Here they are, in a countdown from #10 to #1.
10. My Cousin Vinny (1992)
9. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
8. Philadelphia (1993)
7. Erin Brockovich (2000)
6. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
5. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
4. The Verdict (1982)
3. 12 Angry Men (1957)
2. A Few Good Men (1992)
And, drumroll please. The #1 legal movie of all time:
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Also interesting, the legal movie which garnered the most
money was The Firm (1993) at $270,248.367.
*This list courtesy of abovethelaw.com.
The State Law Library of Montana possesses all of these top
ten legal movies and they circulate regularly. Next up for the State Law
Library—a legal film series “Reel Justice” in which local criminal and film college
professors discuss the merits of each individual legal film to an eager group
of pre-law undergrads and local attorneys.
BONUS: I saw this recently in the Summer 2014 WestPac News
and had to try it out. Catalog
Card Generator is a free Web application that lets you create a digital
picture of your own customized catalog card. You just fill in the form and “make
it.” We’ve used our library card as a handout for new employees to the Montana
Judicial Branch. Love it!
Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson
State Law Librarian and Director, State Law Library of Montana
Montana Supreme Court, Helena, MT
Posted By 11/17/2014 5:39:51 PM