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2010 Staff Day

Sacramento Public Library

Problem Statement

One day every year, all Sacramento Public Libraries closed for Training Day. Like so many of these events, the day had become tired and formulaic. The Library needed to find a way to reinvent the day, give it new life and make it an event that all staff looked forward to attending.


Staff development days should be active, focused and have a sense of forward motion. Our Director has several lofty goals for the organization but the one that resonated with the Staff Day Committee was the goal to be Library of the Year in 2013. It is an ambitious goal, but staff day is the perfect time to think big. To be Library of the Year, we needed system-wide goals that could be implemented at the local level. The committee decided that what we needed to do was present the theme and have no expectation of the end result. It takes fortitude to let go of outcome control and allow the staff to determine the future and direction of the organization. In the morning, staff, Friends Board members and other stakeholders broke into randomly assigned work groups-Facilities staff with librarians and Finance folks with delivery drivers. Each group discussed this question: “Imagine we have unlimited resources. What do we need to focus on?” Staff were assigned a randomly selected topic from this list: technology, facilities, customer service, managerial support, staff/training and collections. Because the groups were randomly selected, some staff worked on topics that directly pertained to their jobs but most did not. In the afternoon, staff met with their workgroups and came up with a practical and attainable “vision into action” goal that could be completed in the next five months.


In March, the staff gathered to report on their goals. 24 of 28 branches reported out. Some of the goals were large but many were not. For example, one branch committed to promoting library databases and did so with prizes for patrons who used one. The Central Library trained all staff on downloadables and the Collection Services Department started Lucky Day: a first come, first served collection for bestseller readers. The day invigorated and focused all participants towards a common goal. It is not unusual to still hear staff refer to Library of the Year as a way to frame expectations and outcomes. It was a great way to ask staff and stakeholders to step up and think big.