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Preparing for Transitions at the Library

by on August 17, 2018

After fifteen years of service our Friends of the Library president is moving out of state and passing the baton. The process has been painful for everyone. But it is a process that will be inevitable for all.

Due to a variety of circumstances, I habitually make notes for the future. Notes about when vendor contracts will come due, passwords, of course, processes and steps for certain tasks, and generally unknown information, such as the timer for the parking lot lights is in our basement.  While I am pretty good about such things for my own job, it never crossed my mind to consider these things for others, like our Friends of the Library group.

Our Friends president was very good. She gave us a year’s notice and immediately started setting up meetings and making lists. But it has still been a difficult transition and one from which I have taken several lessons, not only about future Friends, but things to aid in what will inevitably be my own transition.

The first thing learned in this process is how much we do that we don’t think about. This includes the tasks that we do by rote, daily, without thought. As this change in leadership was coming, our past president started making lists of all that she did. While some mundane and probably not needed, the practice led to a recognition of how much she did. It has been a lot and we quickly realized it was clearly more than what one person should do.

This has led to two more realizations:  the first was that we needed to recruit more than a new president, but also some additional volunteers to help with the work load. The second realization was that a handbook or manual is invaluable, and that we would need to create one for this job.

The initial process of listing and note taking made both of these tasks much easier. We were able to organize the work into smaller jobs making it easier to advertise, recruit, and train volunteers. With lists in place it was easier to see what tasks could simply be listed and what tasks needed a procedure.

Since we began early, by the point that a new Friends president took over, our documentation was in place. The old president left with a feeling of accomplishment and the confidence that things would proceed in her absence. The new president came in feeling less overwhelmed and with the confidence that the job could be done.

We will all miss our old president and wish her well in her new endeavors. We are confident in our new president and are looking forward to working with her. But the lessons learned in this transition will stay with all of us and make all our future changes much easier.

Su is currently Reading Killers of the Flower Moon  by David Grann.