a message from Brian M. Hildreth, STLS Executive Director
Vocal Advocate to Receive Library Director Award
A few weeks ago, Deputy Director Margo Gustina and I were fortunate to present before the Allegany County Public Library Directors Association. We spoke with them about the different approaches directors can take while building relationships with their boards.
We believe this presentation is essential for both directors and trustees. Margo also facilitates a variation of it with board members, which focuses on Roles & Responsibilities. It is no secret the director and board relationship determines how library services are delivered. STLS observes this because we hear from our 44 unique director and trustee relationships each year.
Frankly, it is a challenging to assist members in fostering these relationships. All STLS can do is reference best practices within the field and advise based on professional experiences. We do this while maintaining member confidentiality. Our goal is to empower both directors and trustees to work together healthfully for the betterment of their staff, volunteers, patrons and communities.
One concept we really stress is ensuring directors have a seat at the table. This should be interpreted literally and figuratively. Too often directors are excused from activities and conversations that require their input. Some examples include budgeting, planning, policy-making and board meetings. It is fine for a board to enter executive session to explicitly discuss the performance or salary of a director, but for all other conversations, the director should participate.
This is my last installment of highlighting our 2017 STLS member library award winners. All of our recipients will be acknowledged on Tuesday, October 10 at the STLS Annual Meeting and Conference. We genuinely get excited about this event each year.
Our final award category is the Library Director Award. A recipient of this award must demonstrate an overall commitment to the betterment of their public library based on current and innovative practices. Nomination can be tied to a recent project that increased the library’s ability to bring in new community members or provide outreach to community groups.
This year’s recipient is Heidi Robinson of Wimodaughsian Free Library. She is the director of Canisteo’s library in Steuben County. (Local history and library fun fact, “Wimodaughsian” stands for wives, mothers, daughters and sisters.
Heidi’s lead nomination was written by her Board Treasurer Martine Marts. Martine had this to say, “Dr. Heidi Robinson has promoted the library in so many ways and continues to work hard to bring new patrons on board to utilize the library… I am moved by her dedication and commitment.”
In just a few short years, Heidi has changed the library into an evolving space for community members. Program offerings have more than doubled. Social media presence has become an extension of library services. Collections meet the needs of all patrons. Relationships have been built with key stakeholders and community organizations. And, local funding has increased by more than 50 percent.
I realize this sounds like a checklist rather than a transformational approach to library outreach. However, this is how Heidi works. She is extremely methodical and pragmatic.
I met Heidi when she was only a few days on the job. She spent our time together showing-off the library, asking lots of questions and then asking even more questions after our visit. She wanted to learn as much as possible to ensure her library and community were successful. Then she went to work addressing all the things that needed to happen.
Heidi is also a vocal advocate. When a local community group questioned the content of a library program, wrote letters to the editor, called the mayor and protested in front of the library, Heidi held firmly to the Library Bill of Rights and allowed for the program’s implementation.
She also fought for justified funding increases in two consecutive years by calmly answering questions from a few concerned citizens, but also spoke proudly and transparently about library funding needs to her supporters. She is representative of a Southern Tier library director and most worthy of this year’s recognition.
The registration deadline for the Annual Meeting and Conference is this Tuesday, October 3rd. Please consider joining us to celebrate Heidi’s accomplishments as well as the work of all our other award recipients.
Have a great fall weekend STLS!