Monthly Archives: November 2022

CPDWL Standing Committee Member Highlight: Rajen Munoo

“This is How We Do It: One Professional Development Activity in the Lives of Librarians from Around the World” is a new series from the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section to highlight our standing committee members, who they are and what they do!

In this post, we highlight Rajen Munoo, CPDWL standing committee member!

I am a member of the Library Association of Singapore’s Programmes and Engagement Committee and I organized a series of library visits as part of the Reconnect to get librarians to start participating in tours etc. The photos are from the last visit to the Singapore University of Technology and Design Library where we went off the beaten track to visit their Fab Lab! On display was an array of 3-D printed objects and in my mind I was thinking about how Librarians can support the Fab Lab! I also taught a new Professional Development Workshop for postgraduates called, Practical Business Research for the Digitalised Workplace. Together my colleague Kartini we included many active learning sections and in the photo you can see the gallery walk where students participated in a knowledge cafe to share their take-aways from an elearn object called, Digital Literacy: What you need to know! The new workshop was well received.

Why are you a standing committee member of CPDWL and what are you working on for CPDWL Section at the moment? 
Rajen: I enjoy the diversity of the team and also the rich experiences and sharing by everyone. I am currently co-organizing a webinar on the Infodemic with colleagues from Italy and Abidjan.
What is one advice you have for new librarians interested in getting involved in IFLA or in their library associations for professional development? 
Rajen: IFLA offers an amazing networking opportunity, In addition to serving in your local organization, it allows you to look beyond – be glocal!

CPDWL Standing Committee Member Highlight: Gillian Hallam

“This is How We Do It: One Professional Development Activity in the Lives of Librarians from Around the World” is a new series from the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section to highlight our standing committee members, who they are and what they do!

In this post, we highlight Gillian Hallam, CPDWL standing committee member!

Why are you a standing committee member of CPDWL and what are you working on for CPDWL Section at the moment? 
Gill: I have long believed in the role that IFLA can play in building the capacity of LIS associations and LIS professionals across the world. This has also helped me build strong connections with like-minded colleagues within my own country. My current work with CPDWL concentrates on the IFLA Guidelines for CPD in the digital environment: we have a new poster which should be translated into all the different languages across the globe!
What is one advice you have for new librarians interested in getting involved in IFLA or in their library associations for professional development? 
Gill: Sign up for your library association’s CPD scheme, if it has one. Lobby for one if it does not! Explore ideas about where you might like to go in the profession and then map out your learning journey to get there, Make sure that you connect with the right people who will help you get there!

CPDWL Standing Committee Member Highlight: Carmen Ka Man Lei

“This is How We Do It: One Professional Development Activity in the Lives of Librarians from Around the World” is a new series from the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section to highlight our standing committee members, who they are and what they do!

In this post, we highlight Carmen Ka Man Lei, CPDWL standing committee member!

Why are you a standing committee member of CPDWL and what are you working on for CPDWL Section at the moment? 
Carmen: I would like to learn more about the best practice and work with library professionals around the world to advocate the importance of PD in library profession. At the moment, I’m busy working with the online coaching initiative that will take place from 14-25 Nov. I need to assist in coordinating with coaches, setting up calendars, and later on promotion of the project to seek for coachee, I also assist in sending the monthly poster to members and remind SC members to write for blog posts, I recently volunteer to work in one of the project run under CPDWL and LTR, the members already created a doc in basecamp on a project called’ IFLA Scholarly Communication Project’.
What is one advice you have for new librarians interested in getting involved in IFLA or in their library associations for professional development? 
Carmen: I would suggest them to say YES to opportunities, find time to volunteer to work with these organizations, with the COVID 19, most of the seminars and projects are done online, so, this provide more opportunities to take part in online projects, some of the online sharing are short, start with those, for instance, 5 mins lighting talks on new trends and development, librarian networking program, etc. These will surely widen your horizons and experiences.
We are going to run a Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong and Macao (GHMULA) Academic Library Alliance Youth Forum in Nov probably in Guangzhou (hybrid) . Young library professionals can make use of the platform to share their ideas on new trends and development. Follows by another GHMULA Library Directors meeting held in Macao late Nov. This allow library directors in the region to meet face to face after years of online meetings, to learn from one another about new development, PD opportunities etc. Would happy to share more afterwards.

CPDWL Standing Committee Member Highlight: Jarkko Rikkilä

“This is How We Do It: One Professional Development Activity in the Lives of Librarians from Around the World” is a new series from the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section to highlight our standing committee members, who they are and what they do!

In this post, we highlight Jarkko Rikkilä, CPDWL standing committee member!

My 15 minutes of fame! 🙂 I had the priviledge to offer a speech in early October at the opening ceremony of the new Jämsä public library building. In my speech I addressed that competent personnel – with a versatile library space – is the biggest resource a library can have. This situation was also a PD event for me. I learned how to speak about libraries in an understandable way. I had to really think about the ways how to say things because the speech was aimed at all residents of the municipality.


Why are you a standing committee member of CPDWL and what are you working on for CPDWL Section at the moment? 
Jarkko: I work as a coordinator in a regional development task in Finland. My job includes competence development, network work and improving librarians’ skills. I want to be able to tell the world about the work we do in Finnish libraries and it’s possible through the CPDWL section. I believe that the development of competence in the library sector is one of the most important priorities for libraries in the future. The world changes, and so does library work. I think we can learn a lot from how library knowledge and skills are developed elsewhere. So it works both ways – sharing ideas and bringing some ideas back to one’s own work – that is the best thing in working with CPDWL. At the moment my responsibilities include blog contribution, webinars and get to know you -webinars. I was also happy to meet some of the colleagues live on IFLA WLIC Dublin in July this year.
What is one advice you have for new librarians interested in getting involved in IFLA or in their library associations for professional development? 
Jarkko: I became interested in the activities of the CPDWL section at the Zagreb satellite conference in 2019. It was a really great conference and I started looking for a way to get involved. For me, the Finnish Library Association has been the most important link to international work. So I would recommend contacting your own country’s library association or joining somehow to national-level library advocacy. Many professionals may be worried about their own language skills or possible workload, which is naturally related to international work in some way. I can say from my own experience that it is worth setting off calmly. Getting to know the department’s operating culture takes time, and it’s good to be kind. You also get used to using the English language, the most important thing is to find your own style – very few people think about correct pronunciation, for example. Looking outside your own bubble is always important!

CPDWL Podcast Project Season 3, Episode 6: Ulrike Lang and Vera Keown

Colleagues, we are excited to announce the our next episode (for season 2) of the CPDWL Podcast Project where we feature library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work.

This episode’s guests are Ulrike Lang and Vera Keown

To listen to he episode, see here:

Ulrike Lang – Until June 2020 Ulrike Lang was head of the Education and Training Department at the State and University Library Hamburg, Germany. Also responsible for Health management, conflict management, diversity management and addiction prevention. She is a member of the German library association BIB and gave several presentations at national and international conferences concerning CPD. Ulrike Lang already served eight years at the Continuing Professional Development Section (CPDWL) as co-chair, was four years member of the Education and Training Section of IFLA and now returned to CPDWL again as co-chair. She is a member of the coaching working group and served also as coach in the past years. At the 2019 Satellite conference in Zagreb she held the workshop „Challenging Presentation Needed? „

Vera Keown has been with the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada since 2010. First as Head of the Sciences and Technology Libraries and since 2014, as an Associate University Librarian. She previously held a number of library and business positions at the National Research Council of Canada. Vera has been a member of the IFLA Management & Marketing section since 2016. She considers it a great honour to be working on the IFLA Coaching Initiative with such talented and dedicated committee members. Vera is a certified leadership coach, Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a  member of the International Coaching Federation. She offers one-on-one coaching to managers, leaders, and executives of all levels for leadership and performance development, and provides coach training to organizations.

Transcript is below.

00:00:04.780 –> 00:00:19.669
ULRIKE: Hello, colleagues, and welcome to a new episode of the CPDWL Podcast. In this podcast we talk with the library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work. Two.

00:00:19.820 –> 00:00:38.889
ULRIKE: My name is Ulrike Lang. Chair of the Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section CPDWL, and also convener of the IFLA Coaching Initiative run by a CPDWL and the Management and Marketing Section. I’m a retired head of Education and Training Department at the State and University Library in Hamburg, Germany,

ULRIKE: today’s guest is Vera Keown from Canada, and we will talk about mentoring and coaching, and identify the benefits of coaching.

00:00:57.840 –> 00:01:07.890
ULRIKE: We will also give you an overview about the IFLA coaching initiative and we’ll share some of the feedback coaches and coaches gave to us.

00:01:08.010 –> 00:01:13.449
ULRIKE: But first of all, I would like to ask my today’s partner to introduce herself.

00:01:14.600 –> 00:01:28.700
Vera: Thank you. Hi! Everyone. My name is Vera Keown Um, and yes, I am indeed from Canada, but it’s a big place. Um! So more specifically, i’m from Winnipeg Manitoba, which is kind of in the center of Canada.

00:01:28.840 –> 00:01:38.609
Vera: I’ve been a member of the IFLA management and marketing section in the past, and I’ve been involved in the IFLA coaching initiative since 2019

00:01:39.720 –> 00:01:52.450
Vera: I am a certified executive coach, and through coaching I empower individuals and groups to discover and realize their true potential and experienced success and fulfillment in all their pursuits. One hundred and fifty.

00:01:53.060 –> 00:02:03.070
Vera: I really like partnering with people, so that they can become the leaders that they were meant to be, and I offer that through confidential one-on-one executive and leadership coaching,

00:02:03.280 –> 00:02:17.219
Vera: but I’m also a librarian, and I have over twenty-five years of experience as a special and academic library, and currently, I am the organizational development live frame at the University of Manitoba. One.

00:02:18.220 –> 00:02:28.049
ULRIKE: Thank you, Vera. I already mentioned that we will talk about the IFLA coaching initiative itself, and why we started this for the worldwide community.

00:02:28.060 –> 00:02:39.839
ULRIKE: We will identify the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring, but also talk about the benefits for both the coaches and the coaches in the business context, one hundred and fifty.

00:02:39.850 –> 00:02:50.100
ULRIKE: Finally, we’ll highlight some experiences of both coaches and coaches who have participated in the in-person and also online. Program.

00:02:50.170 –> 00:03:05.410
ULRIKE: Let’s start with the comparison of coaching and mentoring. Vera is there a definition of coaching and mentoring, which is useful for the library field. And what are the differences in terms of roles, goals, and approaches? One hundred and fifty?

00:03:06.690 –> 00:03:18.679
Vera: Well, Uh, thanks, Um. Arika. Yeah, there is actually a a difference, although we often talk about mentoring and coaching as if they are the same thing. But in fact, they are different. One

00:03:18.690 –> 00:03:30.119
Vera: Um. So I’ll start with mentoring, because I think people are a little bit more familiar with that. Um. And what mentoring is usually a it’s a a formal or sometimes informal relationship

00:03:30.130 –> 00:03:41.379
Vera: Ah! Between a senior and a junior colleague or an employee. And uh, that relationship could either be uh within an organization or external to to an organization one.

00:03:41.390 –> 00:03:50.649
Vera: Um! But the focus of mentoring is on the senior colleague advising and supporting the junior colleague to achieve career success.

00:03:50.870 –> 00:04:02.959
Vera: So typically the senior colleague will help the junior colleague by talking about how they drew their career. Um, and suggest that the junior individual try some of the same approaches that they did.

00:04:03.600 –> 00:04:10.129
Vera: Mentors can also be a source of support in terms of networking and providing opportunities to the junior colleague,

00:04:10.240 –> 00:04:14.230
Vera: based on the relationships and experiences that they have developed

00:04:15.520 –> 00:04:32.689
Vera: mit ctl and Ching, on the other hand, is really a develop. Also, it’s a developmental focused um process as well, but it’s really focused on the coachee and um their personality, their situations, and what it is that they want to accomplish. One hundred and fifty

00:04:32.700 –> 00:04:45.330
Vera: So coaching is, is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance, and that’s a code from Sir John Whitmore, who is considered to be one of the founders of the professional coaching movement, one hundred and fifty

00:04:45.850 –> 00:05:01.439
Vera: So coaching is developmental and future focused. Um. The role of the coach is to facilitate learning and development of the coach. He and they do that through developing self-awareness and self-discovery by asking a lot of questions one hundred and fifty

00:05:01.450 –> 00:05:16.410
Vera: So through the questioning, the coach works through a process to help the Kochi discover their strengths. Look at challenges from a different perspective. Consider the opportunities and different options that might be available, and develop their own solutions one hundred and fifty

00:05:17.530 –> 00:05:21.799
ULRIKE: isn’t there. A third method we could include in this context.

00:05:22.620 –> 00:05:30.960
Vera: Well, yes, um, you know I especially in workplaces. I I about adding coaching to the manager’s toolkit.

00:05:30.970 –> 00:05:47.000
Vera: Um, and that’s because, as a manager, we often have to dance through the roles of manager, mentor, and coach depending on um who we are talking to. Who are we uh dealing with, and also what the situation

00:05:47.010 –> 00:06:03.409
Vera: So you know, I think we’re all pretty familiar with what it means to manage, or to be a manager. Um, but a manager, you know, is seen as the expert and the problem solver. They’re the ones who set the goals. They train staff. They monitor progress and performance.

00:06:03.600 –> 00:06:12.999
Vera: Um, you know, when there’s policies and procedures in place at organizations, it’s the manager that makes sure they are followed, and that those goals are achieved.

00:06:13.140 –> 00:06:26.599
Vera: The manager usually decides what the goals are, or they have them handed down from the organization. They set the targets they assign the tasks, and they tell the employee what to do and how to do it.

00:06:26.610 –> 00:06:34.990
Vera: So in this case a manager really does a lot of telling when we’re talking about conversations with Uh with employees.

00:06:35.070 –> 00:06:38.070
Vera: In the case of uh coaching

00:06:38.130 –> 00:06:57.819
Vera: the differences is, the coach will be asking the manager who’s acting. Who’s acting as a coach at that time will be doing a lot of asking. Instead, they’ll be doing a lot of asking questions and uh letting the Kochi try to come up with some solutions to how do things?

00:06:59.150 –> 00:07:06.789
ULRIKE: So we have mentoring We’re usually a well experienced colleague in that field gives an advice.

00:07:06.800 –> 00:07:21.570
ULRIKE: We also have the managerial coaching where the manager will tell the coach, he his, or her employee, what to do, and we have the coaching itself where no solutions will be presented but targeted questions.

00:07:21.680 –> 00:07:34.219
ULRIKE: When I look at my experience in coaching the last years, I find it sometimes useful not to have specific knowledge and experience in a particular field of librarianship,

00:07:35.180 –> 00:07:49.840
Vera: You know that’s a very important point. Um, I think. And it really what distinguishes mentoring from coaching when we’re acting as a coach. Um, we’re facilitators or guides to solution finding for the coaching

00:08:01.650 –> 00:08:10.450
Vera: we may be too quick to want to offer our advice and our solutions, and it’s natural because we want to help um, and we, you know we want to

00:08:10.760 –> 00:08:14.919
Vera: help this person deal with whatever challenge they’re facing,

00:08:15.020 –> 00:08:30.369
Vera: However, when we’re coaching, we need to remind ourselves that the solution we are tempted to offer worked for us. Um with our personality, our particular situation, and the people that were involved at the time. One.

00:08:30.380 –> 00:08:35.039
Vera: So it doesn’t necessarily mean It’s going to be the right solution for the coaching

00:08:35.679 –> 00:08:49.430
Vera: and so our value as a coach comes from acting as a thinking partner for the coaching. We ask questions that challenge their assumptions and beliefs about what is happening, and we help them explore options for solutions one hundred and fifty.

00:08:49.600 –> 00:08:59.439
Vera: In this way the coaching is developing a solution that is tailor-made for their situation, their personality, and one that they’re going to be comfortable implementing.

00:09:01.320 –> 00:09:05.740
Vera: Um. So if you’re acting as a coach, some of the things we want to

00:09:05.950 –> 00:09:13.990
Vera: and keep in mind is we’re really there to listen. Um! So it’s important to have good listening skills as a coach One

00:09:14.000 –> 00:09:31.959
Vera: uh we want to create a trusting environment uh a safe place where people can talk about some of their assumptions. Oftentimes some of the fears of of what they think might happen if they if they make a particular choice. Um. So we really need to keep an open mind. We need to be curious about

00:09:31.970 –> 00:09:49.739
Vera: um, the coaching, and we really want to focus on the coaches learning it. You know coaching is developmental. They need to learn something from this, and if we just provide the answers, it’s not um. It’s not as fulsome of a learning opportunity for the coaching

00:09:50.930 –> 00:09:57.210
ULRIKE: vera. Can you please give us some examples where coaching can help in the business context.

00:09:58.060 –> 00:10:15.329
Vera: Yeah. So as I mentioned um, you know, with the with a manager and I talked about managers, but you could be coaching colleagues as well. Um. But you know you dance between that manager mentoring and kind of coaching style. Um, so

00:10:15.340 –> 00:10:30.559
Vera: and what we’re finding, you know, in in our new workplace, especially after Covid. Right? Everything changed after Covid and employees want a workplace culture that is different from the old command and control style of the past two hundred and fifty,

00:10:30.570 –> 00:10:39.510
Vera: and at the same time, you know, organizations need employees to be innovative, self-directed and motivated to keep up with the fast pace of change one hundred and fifty.

00:10:40.520 –> 00:10:55.919
Vera: And we’re also seeing a lot of societal changes within organizations. Um, especially when it comes to things like equity, diversity, and inclusion. Um and employees really want to feel empowered and are starting to demand more of their work. Culture?

00:10:57.160 –> 00:11:13.940
Vera: Um. So coaching is a really important part of it, of a of a learning organization, and some of the benefits there. There are many individual benefits that the research has found in in terms of a role clarity for for individual employees

00:11:13.950 –> 00:11:30.710
Vera: um job. Satisfaction has improved. Organizational commitment has uh improved with coaching, uh, you know, and um, and What are the big ones, especially now for for most organizations is uh employee retention one hundred.

00:11:30.720 –> 00:11:40.789
Vera: So some of the research that’s been done suggests that employees that are are coached are less likely to consider. Leaving the organization

00:11:41.070 –> 00:11:55.960
Vera: … for the organization Uh. The benefits of coaching are more satisfied. Employees better performance. Um novel ideas uh novel solutions to to tough challenges that they might be facing one hundred and fifty

00:11:55.980 –> 00:12:13.269
Vera: um and uh, and obviously and often with teams. Uh it comes down to. If you have some team coaching going on, these projects will be shorter in dur duration, and uh, they will be under budget, which is always important.

00:12:14.740 –> 00:12:32.310
Vera: Um! And I I think part of that, too, is is kind of what. When do you consider that you can um try coaching. And uh, there’s really a number of different times uh that you can. You can think about adding coaching to your to your toolkit.

00:12:32.320 –> 00:12:37.920
Vera: Um! One of the simplest is when you know you get a knock at the door, and you, you

00:12:38.000 –> 00:12:41.530
Vera: colleague, or your employee, says, Well, we’ve got a problem,

00:12:41.820 –> 00:12:49.790
Vera: or I need your advice. You know those are two really good clues that maybe this is an opportunity for coaching

00:12:50.690 –> 00:13:09.340
Vera: um. I also like the idea of using coaching during performance conversations, or the annual review conversations that managers have with employees, and this can take the form of asking questions like, you know, what was the most um challenging

00:13:09.350 –> 00:13:12.299
Vera: thing that you found this year, or

00:13:12.340 –> 00:13:19.920
Vera: who did you work with this year that you felt you learned a lot from. And what was your biggest success this year,

00:13:20.660 –> 00:13:34.619
Vera: and the meetings are a great place to add some coaching right? We can ask simple questions and meetings, especially when we have sort of a debate going on, and nobody’s in, you know, some arguing, and nobody’s one

00:13:34.740 –> 00:13:50.400
Vera: agreeing on anything you know. We can try and bring people back to what is the goal here? What is the ideal outcome that we want to um want to get to? And how can we go about doing that. Let’s explore some options, one

00:13:50.410 –> 00:14:02.719
ULRIKE: may I ask here? Um. So coaching is not only driven by the coaching, it could also be driven by a coach.

00:14:03.890 –> 00:14:23.030
Vera: Well, yes, I guess in in terms of um when we’re talking about it happening, say, within an organization um as opposed to you know how I work with clients who come to me. Um. And I am not part of their organization at all, and I’m working one on one with them.

00:14:23.040 –> 00:14:38.490
Vera: But within organizations you know it. It’s very easy for a boss um or manager to say, You know, Doc, at the door, I’ve got a problem. I need your advice. And uh, you know,

00:14:38.520 –> 00:15:00.350
Vera: I was going to just get to the last one about where often I’ve had some of my staff. Bring me problems where I really just don’t know the solution myself, because it’s something that I haven’t had experience in as well. So when I’m stumped, and I don’t know what to do. Um, coaching is a good time to sit down with the person and say, Well, I really don’t know what to do.

00:15:00.360 –> 00:15:19.269
Vera: But um. Would you like me to help coach you through that? And I often find, too, that if you’re going to coach in an organization it’s important to talk to the person first to say that you’re going to try something a little different. You’re not going to just solve the problem for them, but that you’re going to work with them.

00:15:22.320 –> 00:15:23.890
ULRIKE: Very interesting.

00:15:24.560 –> 00:15:29.040
Vera: Okay, Thanks. I think so.

00:15:33.300 –> 00:15:37.940
ULRIKE: Maybe I can talk a bit about the If the coaching initiative,

00:15:38.160 –> 00:15:47.530
Vera: Yeah, I would think it would be a really good idea if you, if you talked a little bit more about that, of how it started, how it functions and and some of the experiences today.

00:15:47.860 –> 00:15:55.930
ULRIKE: Sure, um! I can describe a bit while we, as a section of it, Fl. Started with the coaching initiative.

00:15:55.940 –> 00:16:13.409
ULRIKE: We felt the need of in-person exchange and communication, like in world cafes or discussion groups, because during the world library and information congresses, they have been presented a lot of lectures with the strict separation between speakers and listeners, one,

00:16:13.420 –> 00:16:24.490
ULRIKE: So, some discussions have been introduced, but usually only panel discussions, without involving the audience, like the very much experienced and the less experienced Two

00:16:24.500 –> 00:16:35.199
ULRIKE: and Don’t forget the key initiative. Number three point one of IFLA. It is, provide excellent opportunities for face to face networking and learning.

00:16:35.370 –> 00:16:53.060
ULRIKE: We also knew that many colleagues urgently needed some kind of consultation or advice which they could not get in their libraries or institutions, or only through financial hurdles

00:16:53.070 –> 00:17:05.039
ULRIKE: and train different skills. But for us, coaching seemed to be a skill which could be easily offered for colleagues from all over the world and every kind of institution

00:17:05.770 –> 00:17:19.300
ULRIKE: also. The culture of dealing with the mistakes is very different worldwide. That’s this means that it is not possible to openly admit and discuss deficit everywhere. For example,

00:17:19.400 –> 00:17:36.589
ULRIKE: So for us, the international community within, IFLA seem to be a very reasonable platform to present more participatory form. It’s like coaching in two thousand and eighteen. We had the first in-person coaching session, in Kuala, Lumpur, Malaysia.

00:17:36.600 –> 00:17:55.069
ULRIKE: The coaches were found more on call and who knows whom? And it was a small group excitedly waiting, if anybody will show up, because, as you might know, there are always many interesting presentations and meetings at the same time at the WLIC.

00:17:55.080 –> 00:17:59.640
ULRIKE: But we had around fifty colleagues who were interested to be coached

00:17:59.870 –> 00:18:22.589
ULRIKE: In two thousand and nineteen and Athens. We were even better prepared already. Cooperating with the management and marketing section would also experienced colleagues who were able to coach, and since the advertising was better, for example, in the Newsletter for the Congress we had significantly more popularity and participants. One hundred and fifty.

00:18:22.810 –> 00:18:45.490
ULRIKE: Then came the pandemic, and the conference was cancelled, but during two thousand and nineteen and beginning of two thousand and twenty, our working group was so active and prepared materials to educate the coaches and prepare the coaches. We decided to offer virtual coaching. I remember that you vera prepared very good information for coaches.

00:18:47.050 –> 00:19:01.720
Vera: Yeah, thank you. That’s um. That’s such a great history of the coaching initiative, Ulrike. And I think it really explains why it’s so important for our colleagues across one hundred

00:19:01.760 –> 00:19:09.939
Vera: across the globe. But yeah, you asked me about some of the some of the materials that I prepared and

00:19:09.950 –> 00:19:27.070
Vera: And well, I did a series of uh, I think it was five training videos for the coaches. Um! So these were recordings that they could watch and learn more about what coaching is uh what’s the process. Um! And how to how to do it.

00:19:27.080 –> 00:19:41.350
Vera: um. I also created a coaching guide for the coaches. So um almost a little cheat sheet to help them walk through the coaching conversation, as well as a pre-coaching form.

00:19:41.360 –> 00:19:57.909
Vera: Um for the coaching and This was to provide the coaching with a bit more information about what coaching is um, and try to distinguish it a bit from mentoring, and also asking them a few questions to help them prepare for their coaching sessions.

00:19:58.020 –> 00:20:06.849
Vera: I think one of the things we find with some of the coaches is They come to the sessions, thinking that the

00:20:06.890 –> 00:20:24.729
Vera: And the coach is going to act more as a mentor, and just provide advice and tell them what they need to do, and that form that we have uh that for the coach. The coaches uh really gets them to walk through a few questions, to think about what they one hundred and one

00:20:24.740 –> 00:20:33.449
Vera: what their goal is, what they want to accomplish, and why it’s important to them, and provides that information to

00:20:33.460 –> 00:20:47.369
Vera: to let them know that they’re going to be doing most of the work, and most of the talking, and not necessarily just waiting for the coach to provide them with all the answers to to the challenges. They’re facing one hundred and fifty.

00:20:48.320 –> 00:21:12.729
ULRIKE: I remember also a very informative webinar you presented where interested coaches just could ask questions. Uh, so what we expected from them, and uh, what they have to be aware of. Um! I I thought that was just great. When you have just a format where you can ask the questions which are

00:21:12.740 –> 00:21:21.450
Vera: in your brain or or your heart. Yeah, I forgot about that. No, that was great.

00:21:21.460 –> 00:21:34.710
ULRIKE: Ah, for almost everybody. This online coaching was new. Thanks to you, Vera, you prepared the equity database as a booking platform. Would you mind presenting this platform to our listeners one hundred and fifty.

00:21:35.510 –> 00:21:46.229
Vera: Oh, yeah, sure. So um accost is an online scheduling system, I it’s actually owned by the Squarespace Company, the web, the website Company

00:21:46.240 –> 00:21:58.390
Vera: Um, And what we were able to do with this platform is uh organize our coaches by language and regions. So in different time zones because we’re all over the place.

00:21:58.490 –> 00:22:11.310
Vera: Um! We were able to um create calendars for each of the coaches uh, so that they could choose the days and the times that they were available for coaching,

00:22:11.750 –> 00:22:21.469
Vera: and then we could provide a link um to the coaches where they could go to that link, go online and book, a session to meet virtually with their coach.

00:22:21.910 –> 00:22:35.060
Vera: So on the platform. Uh, when A. Co. She wanted to book a a session with a coach, they could see some their photos of the coach. They could read a a brief bio about them.

00:22:35.070 –> 00:22:56.360
Vera: Um! And I think the fantastic part was we um when we first use that system. We had about twenty-five coaches from around the world, and we were able to offer, and you might have to remind me of Rica all the languages, but I know we offered coaching in English and Chinese, Russian, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian,

00:22:56.580 –> 00:23:12.549
Vera: I think Arabic, but i’m not sure. I There were a couple of different language that some other languages, but I can’t quite remember um what they were, and also more importantly, we were able to cover. You know pretty much, most of the time zones around the world.

00:23:12.800 –> 00:23:32.579
ULRIKE: Yeah, yes, To offer the coaching in different languages was very important for its success. From my point of view, because not all our native English speakers. And sometimes it’s even difficult to talk about your problem you want to solve, and even more problematic to do it in a foreign language.

00:23:32.630 –> 00:23:50.889
ULRIKE: Um! And to continue the history of our coaching initiative this year in Dublin at the WLIC, we again had in-person coaching sessions. Some colleagues visited the self session and expected to listen to a theoretical input about coaching.

00:23:50.900 –> 00:24:06.950
ULRIKE: So we learned that we have to be very precise in describing the content of the session. The if not organizers, wanted us to choose a catchy title. So it was named International Coaching Building, new leaders globally

00:24:06.960 –> 00:24:22.269
ULRIKE: and only in the subtitle. We described what was planned for this session that’s online code that’s a in-person coaching for next year we have to make clear already in the title, What is to be expected at this session? One hundred and fifty.

00:24:22.440 –> 00:24:29.620
ULRIKE: And again, we’ll have online coaching in November from November the fourteenth to twenty fifth

00:24:29.780 –> 00:24:44.919
ULRIKE: Um. There is an online coaching for all, if not members or members of uh institutions and associations who are members of. If there are still some time slots with different coaches to book.

00:24:46.330 –> 00:24:56.330
Vera: Thanks very much. Yeah. And it’s so important that um that people get a chance to to sign up, and that that coaching

00:24:57.530 –> 00:25:00.670
Vera: very, very soon. So don’t miss your chance to get

00:25:00.950 –> 00:25:19.259
Vera: sometime with the coach. Um, all right. So you’ve talked about how we prepare for the coaching sessions. Um. And you. You’ve done the coaching in the past as part of this initiative. Can you tell us about your the experiences of of both coaches and coaches.

00:25:19.830 –> 00:25:28.090
ULRIKE: Sure, of course we tried to get feedback from coaches and coaches every time we did. We did the coaching sessions,

00:25:28.100 –> 00:25:53.050
ULRIKE: and overall we have only received above average ratings. Uh when the coaches leave the room, left the room. Uh, at the in-person coaching, we already asked them to uh sign for a smile, a very smiling person, and in different one or a negative one, and we only got smiling

00:25:53.060 –> 00:25:54.110
ULRIKE: persons

00:25:54.590 –> 00:26:05.539
ULRIKE: The coaches were very happy to get an attentive and empathetic partner, who is far away from the own institution to discuss or even mention their problems. One hundred and fifty,

00:26:05.550 –> 00:26:23.940
ULRIKE: and also the coaches realized how interesting these sessions have been for themselves, because they were able to expand and improve their conversation techniques, and at the same time think about what solutions strategies they would have found for themselves in comparable situations.

00:26:24.240 –> 00:26:36.889
ULRIKE: I’m happy to coach from the beginning in our initiative, and I must say that almost every coaching session, face to face or online as well, has been a learning experience for myself, too,

00:26:36.900 –> 00:26:45.440
ULRIKE: not only in improving my own coaching skills, but also through the solutions that the coaches find for themselves,

00:26:45.460 –> 00:26:49.470
ULRIKE: which also might give my own thinking a new twist.

00:26:49.690 –> 00:27:07.089
ULRIKE: But some coaches also mentioned that it is sometimes really difficult not to leave the path of coaching and walk on the street of Mentoring, especially if the coach already had the same situation in his or her lifetime. We already focused on this earlier one

00:27:07.440 –> 00:27:25.100
ULRIKE: All we’re happy with the online format, even when some feared it couldn’t work, because the gestures and body. Language is not so present is through. You are sitting next to each other in person. What do you think, Vera? Does the screen make it more difficult.

00:27:26.300 –> 00:27:44.609
Vera: Well, personally, I’ve become very comfortable with virtual coaching. Um. In fact, the majority of the coaching I I do is virtual. Um, You know the bonus of a virtual coaching is that it’s so much more accessible for people, especially um. When we talking about the…

00:27:44.620 –> 00:28:02.169
Vera: the IFLA initiative, um, you know, attending the WLIC. I see, is not an optional is for everybody. Um! And when we were in, you know the Covid lockdown time um in person was not at all a possibility.

00:28:02.180 –> 00:28:11.239
Vera: For myself, I really find it thrilling to be working with someone from the other side of the globe because I love talking to people from different countries and in different cultures.

00:28:11.270 –> 00:28:20.750
Vera: Um! And I get to see different perspectives online from around the world, and I wouldn’t necessarily get that if everything was supposed to be in person.

00:28:21.280 –> 00:28:36.019
Vera: But I feel even with virtual um, you know, if you’re doing uh a zoom session with video. Uh: you can still get a sense of of the body language of of someone. The facial expressions uh, and the tone that they’re using,

00:28:36.030 –> 00:28:45.800
Vera: and one of the benefits I do find of virtual of using a virtual environment is sometimes it can be more personal and safe for the Co- she

00:28:45.810 –> 00:29:14.819
Vera: so um, you know it’s it. You’re just one on one. It feels like you’re just in a small room together, because you could just see each other. Um! And there’s less distractions around you. Um! And they can often the Co. She can often be in an environment where uh you know it’s not. They’re not in a big open office, and their colleagues can hear them. Uh, maybe they’re at home instead, and they have a bit more private,

00:29:14.830 –> 00:29:15.590
Vera: I see.

00:29:16.290 –> 00:29:17.170

00:29:17.310 –> 00:29:30.540
ULRIKE: Let me just report about one little occurrence this year. I had an online coaching last year with a librarian who participated this year again at the In-person coaching in Dublin,

00:29:30.590 –> 00:29:32.659
ULRIKE: and she choose me again.

00:29:32.810 –> 00:29:40.389
ULRIKE: She started our conversation, saying, My problem from last year is solved, but I have a new one.

00:29:40.710 –> 00:29:47.480
ULRIKE: I was so happy that I could help her, and she was so pleased to that she wanted to try it again with me.

00:29:47.920 –> 00:29:55.800
ULRIKE: Well, I think we mentioned a lot of arguments while librarians should participate in the coaching initiative of Islam

00:29:55.830 –> 00:30:10.130
ULRIKE: coaches to get a first inside what coaching means, and to try without any costs. If this method could be effective for themselves and for coaches to expand their knowledge and support others worldwide, one hundred and fifty.

00:30:10.250 –> 00:30:21.170
ULRIKE: We also have to mention that some of the coach and co-chair relationships are still ongoing The couples can decide if they want to stay in touch after their meeting one hundred and fifty.

00:30:21.390 –> 00:30:30.049
ULRIKE: Vera, do you have another advice for those colleagues who are not sure if they can apply as a coach, What would we require

00:30:31.090 –> 00:30:44.799
Vera: And yeah, So that’s a that’s a good point. Um, As I mentioned earlier, you know, being you know, a seasoned or a senior experienced librarian is not necessarily the most important thing one hundred and one,

00:30:44.810 –> 00:30:57.990
Vera: because, you know, as you mentioned, sometimes, it can get in the way of us helping as a coach, because we have too much experience. We have too much knowledge, and we want to provide answers and solutions to people one hundred and fifty.

00:30:58.010 –> 00:31:08.640
Vera: It’s also not. It’s not necessary for our coaches within IFLA to be certified coaches, so no formalized training is required. One hundred and fifty

00:31:08.690 –> 00:31:20.820
Vera: Mitzvah

00:31:20.830 –> 00:31:32.480
Vera: um. Coaching is a self learning journey for the Kochi. So for the coach it’s really important to be open minded to be non-judgmental to have good listening skills,

00:31:32.490 –> 00:31:42.519
Vera: and also, you know, create a safe and trusting environment, because we really want the coachees to explore their situation. And sometimes that can be very challenging for them.

00:31:58.890 –> 00:32:15.439
Vera: We probably most people have these skills, or we’ve done training on active listening skills uh asking open-ended questions. And in fact, I like to um, think of coaching a coaching conversation is very much like a reference interview.

00:32:15.450 –> 00:32:22.930
Vera: for a librarian, right? We often have people or students come to us and say, I need this book.

00:32:22.960 –> 00:32:37.029
Vera: And then, when you start the reference interview, you start asking some more open-ended questions. And It turns out, maybe the book isn’t the best option for them. But there are other resources that would be um. So one hundred and fifty

00:32:37.040 –> 00:32:50.520
Vera: and you know. I think that’s one of the things that I can relate to with librarians is. Think about the reference interview and what you do there, and It’s a It’s a really good um way to approach coaching two hundred and fifty.

00:32:51.640 –> 00:33:05.789
ULRIKE: I hope this will bring us to much more colleagues who are interested to be part of our program, the like, the following years. And how should coaches be prepared?

00:33:06.610 –> 00:33:21.600
Vera: Yeah, this is very important. And, as I mentioned, you know sometimes, uh the coaches think the conversation is going to be more of a mentoring conversation where the coach is going to basically give them all the answers. Um!

00:33:21.610 –> 00:33:29.240
Vera: But the coaching really needs to be prepared to do most of the talking, and most of the hard work during a coaching conversation.

00:33:29.410 –> 00:33:41.109
Vera: So their coach is not there to provide advice. Um, but their coach is there to be a guide and a thinking partner for them, and help them develop solutions to their challenges that work for them one hundred and fifty.

00:33:41.430 –> 00:33:56.089
Vera: So coaches should come prepared with an idea of what their goal is, what they want to accomplish. Um. The coach can help them clarify this goal, and the coach will ask them some questions to challenge their thinking on the issue.

00:33:56.440 –> 00:34:05.460
Vera: She really was going to have to dig deep within themselves, to and be open to exploring options and seeing issues from new perspectives.

00:34:05.820 –> 00:34:17.379
Vera: And, as I mentioned earlier, to help our IFLA coaches prepare uh, each coach sends out an information for coaches form when a coach coaching books with them,

00:34:17.510 –> 00:34:27.580
Vera: and this form provides information on coaching the role of the coach and the Koji, and if, as far questions to help the coach, you prepare for the session,

00:34:27.820 –> 00:34:40.779
Vera: and it’s really important for the coaching to complete this form and send it back to the coach before the coaching session begins, so that both can be prepared for the session and make the most of the time that they have together.

00:34:42.650 –> 00:34:59.260
ULRIKE: Thank you so much, Vera, for this interesting talk about the differences of coaching and mentoring the addition of managing. We also gave a brief overview of the If the coaching, initiative and talk about some experiences of coaches and coaches.

00:34:59.300 –> 00:35:14.339
ULRIKE: If you are interested in more information. We already published some podcasts about the coaching initiative, and you can find us on the project page of CPDWL. The Url is

00:35:14.360 –> 00:35:31.540
ULRIKE: https colin slash, slash. IFLA dot org slash projects minus six slash coaching minus initiative slash,

00:35:32.160 –> 00:35:43.450
ULRIKE: and in the CPDWL blog you can read a statement of one of the last year’s co-chairs, who described her experiences with a coaching Session

00:35:44.110 –> 00:35:52.129
ULRIKE: If you are interested in serving as a coach at the next WLIC or online, Please let us know.

00:35:52.350 –> 00:35:58.429
ULRIKE: Thanks for listening and promoting or supporting our coaching initiative.

CPDWL Standing Committee Member Highlight: Tina Haglund

“This is How We Do It: One Professional Development Activity in the Lives of Librarians from Around the World” is a new series from the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section to highlight our standing committee members, who they are and what they do!

In this post, we highlight Tina Haglund, CPDWL standing committee member!

Why are you a standing committee member of CPDWL and what are you working on for CPDWL Section at the moment? 
Tina: I have been a member of the standing committee since 2021. I think the questions of ongoing opportunities to learn and development on personal and organisational level is of importance if libraries wants to stay relevant in a faster and faster changing world. I am mostly involved in the work and planning of coaching. Coming up is the opportunity to take part in the online coaching that takes part in November.
What is one advice you have for new librarians interested in getting involved in IFLA or in their library associations for professional development? 
Tina: Contact a member from a group/section that you are interested in to find out more. Contact your library association about how to get nominated to the section and ask also about funding to visit a WLIC. Join and volunteer during WLIC.

CPDWL Podcast Project Season 3, Episode 5: Spencer Acadia and Fran Holyoke

Colleagues, we are excited to announce the our next episode (for season 3) of the CPDWL Podcast Project where we feature library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work.

See here for the podcast:

Our guests are Spencer Acadia and Fran Holyoke. The topic is on toxic libraries.

Spencer Acadia holds a PhD in sociology, an MA in psychology, and an MLS. Spencer is an assistant professor in the Research Methods and Information Science department at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Spencer teaches social science research methods to library school students, as well as courses in library management, collection development, and international library research and practice. A part of Spencer’s ongoing research investigates LIS dysfunction, including library workplaces, education, and the profession. Prior to becoming a full-time professor, Spencer worked in academic libraries for over ten years. Find Spencer online at and via Twitter at @s_acadia.

Francesca Holyoke is now retired from a 30 plus years career in principally, academic libraries and archives. In addition to government and public libraries, Francesca has worked in nearly every library department including cataloguing and reference, she has done consulting and delivered children’s services, ranging from a library assistant to a branch and department head in both the Sciences and the Arts. Throughout her academic career she was heavily involved with the local faculty association and the national organization the Canadian Association of University Teachers. She continues some of her union work along with archival appraisals.

Transcript Below:

Ray: Hi, this is Raymond Pun, a standing committee member of IFLA CPDWL Section. Welcome to the IFLA CPDWL Podcast Project. In this space, we talk with library and information professionals who support and participate in professional development work.  Today’s guests are Dr. Spencer Acadia, chair of the Knowledge Management Section and Francesca Holyoke, a now retired librarian/archivist at the University of New Brunswick and former faculty association president and grievance officer. We’ll be talking about toxic and dysfunctional libraries and what that means for library workers. Welcome Spencer and Fran. 

Fran: Thank you. 

Spencer: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Ray: Now we’re really excited to have you both here to talk about this one topic. And first, let’s define what a toxic or dysfunctional workplaces so according to what I’ve seen on the websites, many, many websites trying to define this these terms it is an any work environment where the people and or work itself can create dysfunction or violation to your well being, particularly your health. And I want to ask by starting with you, Fran, is there anything else you’d like to add to that definition? 

Fran:  I’m assuming that when you say particularly your health that you’re encompassing mental, physical and spiritual health in the broadest possible terms.

Ray:  Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. That’s a holistic consideration of different types of health and sensor. Anything else you want to add?

Spencer:  Sure, I think there’s a few points that could be added here. I would say first that I don’t. I do think it’s important to make clear that it doesn’t necessarily have to be health related. For example, if you are unhappy at your job or dissatisfied with the work that you’re doing, that dissatisfaction and unhappiness can still happen without it necessarily being detrimental to your health. I also think it’s important to say that dysfunction in a library can happen to without any direct effect on you at all. And an example of that might be something like corruption that’s happening in administration. Right? It’s something that’s happening sort of secretly something that you have no idea is going on, but yet is still dysfunctional is still maybe impacting the organization but not necessarily you directly. And then lastly, on this point, I’ll say that it’s that I think it’s important to recognize that it’s not just the people at work, right, your co workers that you work with, or necessarily the work itself, but also the larger workplace, right? It literally that environment that you’re working in, or the organization. And the reason I think that this is important to mention, is because there’s a lot of emphasis, Ray. And you know this because you’ve looked at some of the literature’s and the websites, there’s a lot of emphasis on the individual. Right, and that emphasis on an individual is what is common, less so though the systems within which they work. And so I just think it’s also important to recognize that, yes, there is an individual component to the definition, but for me, I think it’s also important to recognize sort of the larger social and organizational component as well.

Ray: Yeah, thank you, Spencer, for that context there. Very true that it could be a violation of one’s ethics values and norms, not necessarily, like directly impacting health, but also looking at it from you shared about individual and system. So we’re going to get into that. And so, you know, pivoting to this other question that we have here for you, it’s about your new book, Spencer, “libraries as dysfunctional organizations and workplaces.” So congratulations on having this new book out.

Spencer:  Well, thank you that will be coming up very shortly. 

Ray: Yeah. And in this new book, authors from the United States and Canada discuss workplace dysfunction in North American Library contexts, and you put here quote, “the new book seeks to expand the geography of dysfunction related to Library Information Sciences and libraries. The editor seek proposals which chapters will events discourse on assumption libraries, as well as workplaces and within LIS as a discipline and profession for European and Australian libraries. Every context proposals concerning the New Zealand libraries will be considered.” So how did you come up with this book and you have highlights from what you want to share? 

Spencer:  Sure, there’s a few things that I can say about this. So first, into that description that you’d mentioned, just in the there’s actually two separate projects going on there. So there is the book that you mentioned, that’s titled, “Libraries has dysfunctional organizations and workplaces.” That’s the book that will be coming out. Very shortly. It’s being published by Routledge. And that book focuses on US and Canada. All the authors are from the United States and Canada, and they’re all talking about US and Canadian context. The other project though, going on is the follow up book, and that’s where the European and Australian context come into play. I’m looking to put together a follow up book to this book that’s about to come out. That sort of takes the very similar conversations happening in North America on this topic, and looking to see what our European colleagues and our Australian colleagues are experiencing or not as the case may be, but with the book that is about to come out. I will say a few things about that. So the idea for that book, first came from my own experiences working in academic libraries. I worked in academic libraries for a little over 10 years. And I worked in several different libraries, and they were all I found them to be dysfunctional in their own ways. They all had all these different libraries. There were issues that were problems, some similar, some different, but because I saw these several different libraries that I worked at, right, so all of the real life and practical library experience I had was working in libraries that were problematic that were dysfunctional. And so that led me to think that perhaps there was something wrong with me, right that, I somehow was the problem. I was the issue. I was really internalizing this. But secondly, I later became aware of various social media accounts, blogs, articles and so on, from folks across North America that seemingly we’re experiencing the same things. And so with these two things combined, I began realizing, well, it isn’t just me, the problem is lying within me, because it can’t be if there are folks all around the countries in the US and Canada who are also expressing some of these very same things and so on where the book came along, was first, like I just mentioned, I mentioned social media accounts. There was one particular social media account, LIS grievances. It’s a Twitter account, that you may or may not be familiar with, but it was started by Tim Ribaric at Brock University in Ontario. And that Twitter account, sort of was was really instrumental in this recognition that, that I wasn’t alone in experiencing these issues. And then also in 2017, there was a book that was published called “The Dysfunctional library.” And it was a book by Jo Henry and colleagues, and ala published it, and that was published at the end of 2017. I was really quite amazed that he published that book, by the way that ALA would want to publish, you know, a title that recognized that, “hey, libraries are dysfunctional, and there’s problems that we’re having in libraries, but they did.” And so following those inspirations, I conceive of this book as a way really to begin asserting that there needs that there are indeed shared experiences here. And that is a really important point. And it’s important through this book, and through the work of others that we recognize the dysfunction that is happening in libraries, we recognize that it’s there and we acknowledge that it’s there. And then through recognizing it and acknowledging that we can subsequently begin to address it. And the last thing I’ll say here, we’re going to highlights that you mentioned is really so there’s 14 chapters in this book. The book has a website, you can Google the title, maybe, Ray you can provide the link, maybe somewhere on the website. or whatnot. But you can Google the title, find the website and look at the table of contents. There’s 14 total chapters. I do want to say that one of the authors of the chapter of a chapter in the book is actually Tim Ribaric, who created the LIS grievances Twitter that I just mentioned, he contributed a chapter talking about the LIS grievances account. I also co authored a chapter in the book with a colleague in Montreal, and we were looking at memes as a way through which library users or excuse me, library workers experiencing dysfunction are able to express that dysfunction. And so we analyze the memes and that really turned out to be a really interesting study. And then lastly, I’ll say I did write an introduction to the book not just to set up the chapters, but also and this is the really important part for me. The purpose of that introductory chapter is to also pick apart the problems with viewing library dysfunction only as an individual problem. And I really argue the point that it’s important to look at the library dysfunction phenomenon as one that’s also social and organizational.

Ray:  Yeah, it’s really interesting that you mentioned that earliest grievances on Twitter Yeah, I am familiar with it. And for those listening who are not familiar with it, is a program where you where users can submit anonymous comments and then it would generate generated push it out to the followers and anyone who’s looking at the issues that people experiencing and share anonymously. And so it definitely will dive into more. Some of the points that you’re sharing there, Spencer, it’s very fascinating to hear I’ve already thinking about, especially when you’re talking about like, initially not fitting in or feeling like there’s all these problems coming and I think there’s this this notion that I hear a lot of other folks have shared with me over the years. It’s like the self gaslighting thinking, “oh my gosh, it’s something maybe wrong with me. I’m not getting it” but actually there’s something really problematic with the systems and it’s sort of rolling over time. And with that being said, I wanted to also ask you here, so I connected with Fran through Jeanne Bail, who is an IFLA section member of the management and marketing section connected us and I really wanted to highlight or get Fran’s take on some of these issues and topics. And so from your experiences, what are your thoughts about toxic and dysfunctional libraries as well as what Spencer had shared?

Fran:  Sure, thank you and I think, perhaps start with something that that Spencer has shared and first is that I have worked with Tim Ribaric. And in fact, he became the chair of a committee that I chair at one point, which is the Canadian Association of University teachers, librarians and archivists committee, and it is certainly a forum whereby you hear a lot of what’s going on in academic libraries. And like Spencer, my work experience is largely from academic libraries. What may not have been said quite so explicitly is at least in the Canadian context, academic libraries are highly unionized because of the presence of Faculty Associations pretty well across the country. So with respect to the library work sector, the Canadian academic library is probably among the most highly unionized. That doesn’t mean that problems get resolved quickly or easily. But it’s just a fact to note. I will mention too, or refer back to Spencer’s comment about maybe you were the odd one out or you know, you felt maybe you weren’t seeing things properly. That certainly had been my experience. And among the first instances that I felt that I had been in a community of people that share concerns and perspectives about what was going on more provocative environment was the first time I went to a CAUT librarians conference. And then I heard people speaking the same language about how it is you might approach services or collections or outreach or all that sort of thing. And that’s only been been reinforced both through my years of continuing to work both in the library and the archives of the University Library, and simultaneously being involved with the Faculty Association. So that’ll kind of lace itself to my comments, and I find that being questioned at any point. I should mention, too, that I’ve also been aware of dysfunction in some federal library archives in institutions. And that’s certainly a point we could come back to later, in broad brushstrokes. They’re deeply damaging to the people working there, which is, I think, sadly ironic, given that libraries are the most part of public service organizations looking to help people provide support. And yet you hear as you do on the Twitter feed that you mentioned, I’ve certainly been aware of it through participation. In national bodies, and within my own faculty association, that there doesn’t seem to be the support for the people within. So part of it is that if only the consideration conveyed outwards, were the case looking in the experiences consulted demoralize people that those affected but will retrenched from work that in most cases they genuinely love and they will cease to care about doing their best. They might rightly choose to leave that environment. And that may be in part what either the bully or the system is in fact trying to do. One of the things that you hear happening frequently throughout libraries is all this reorganization and certainly there are times when it’s important, proper appropriate to reorganize, but how often is it a way of putting in place a mechanism that shoves people out the door as as as it were? These kinds of work sites, work environments, stifle the creativity of those that are in the organization and it potentially hampers what the organization can can do. And what it does is stop people from working together when they might otherwise be quite willing to do so. There’s a culture of fear there’s a cultural silencing, and people often won’t admit to one another until things have gone fairly well off the rails that something doesn’t seem right here. Again, as a broad statement, the toxicity seems in many cases to derive from up on upper and middle managers doing what they are instructed or believe they are instructed to do by the levels above them that their intent on a kind of a top down approach, without think taking to heart or remember that part of their job is to honestly represent and protect those who worked for or under them. That’s certainly an understanding that’s shared, I would say through a lot of academic libraries in Canada, is that some of that is is driven by corporatization where you are moving to have more business approach to things and the other can be elements of that that are appropriate. But in general, for public service. I think that that doesn’t work and with that, again, it’s a it’s a common refrain that neoliberalism has has accelerated those kinds of effects. Some broad brushstrokes that that would be my experience, and a final comment, is that having been a grievance officer, I’ve found that librarians are loath to grieve. They just don’t seem to want to take that step. Even though you can point to things that are arguably grievable or certainly problematic, they seldom want to take that final step.

Ray:  So why is that? Why why do they sell them take that final step? Is it because they don’t want to critique their colleagues or criticize or is it something that is you know, like a personality driven approach?

Fran: I think it’s certainly both of those that they they don’t want to critique colleagues. They don’t want to appear to be tearing people down. You’re coming from a work environment where you work in many instances as a team and so to critique that to to bring forward problems with that. I think a lot of librarians and archivists are are concerned that that it will make their colleagues look bad. I think a bigger piece of it is a fear that they feel as if the odds are stacked against them. That people don’t quite know how to thread their way through that sort of thing. And tend to believe that that as Spencer was was mentioning earlier, that it’s that it’s their problem. And it’s something that they’ve done wrong. And so they question whether or not they’ve taken all the steps that they could take so that by the time they come forward with something, it’s become quite complicated and messy, and there’s often a fairly long timeframe that makes it difficult to pick through a grievance process because in most situations, whether you’re grieving formally under a collective agreement, or under some kind of general institutional policy, there are timeframes, time limits that that can impinge upon that process.

Ray:  Oh, yeah, that is very true. And I’ve seen maybe were on social media graphics of the infographic kind of thing where people are compelled to read the complaint, like there’s nowhere to or no consequences. 

Fran: Yup

Ray:  So and with that being said, I, it runs up to this other question that we have, which is thinking about the strategies and advice that you can share with our listeners with you might be our listeners might be experiencing toxic or dysfunctional or business alignment. Right now. So what are some ways to mitigate or to really address it as they’re working on and can’t necessarily lead or find another position? Spencer?

Spencer:  Thank you, right. So this is actually quite a difficult question to answer.

Fran:  Agree

Spencer:  And Fran agrees, yeah. So but I do think there’s a few things that can be said here. So first, I want to say that I am a big believer, I always have been in self care. Whatever that means for you, as an individual self care can mean a lot of different things for different people. But whatever it is that helps you get through the day, get through the week. Right? Whatever it is, that helps you make it through that helps you cope, then I’m a big believer in doing those things. It is important to take care of ourselves and quite a bit of existing literature both in lis and in other fields like business management, psychology, so on has a lot of different recommendations about things that individuals can do to help them cope. That said, I think at the same time we have a conversation about the importance of engaging in self care. I think it’s also important to have a parallel discussion that self care does not solve the main issues. It does not solve the problems of library dysfunction. If the library is dysfunctional, and whether we’re talking about the library as a whole, whether we’re talking about certain sections of a library or certain departments, self care and taking care of yourself will not change those aspects because they’re larger than the individual they occur outside of you. So the question for me really is how then do you make change at the socio organizational level? And that’s really what’s hard to answer because a lot of that type of change when we start talking about making changes beyond the individual level, but now we’re focused on social and organizational levels. A lot of that type of change within libraries, starts at the administrative management and leadership levels, because it’s the administration it’s the leadership that sort of creates the tone for the organization, right, that sets the culture that sort of gives ideas about what is acceptable and unacceptable. So that’s often within libraries, where that change has to begin happening. But we know that libraries are notorious for for if I can be honest, and Frank, libraries are notorious for not having very good leaders. And we know this from existing LIS literature that that there does seem to be a bit of a leadership and management crisis in libraries. So what this ultimately means is that then we’re relying basically on poor managers and poor leadership to make meaningful and effective change that they’re really unequipped to do in the first place. Now with that said, I do think it’s important for me to end with this by saying that the problem though like I just mentioned, about poor management and poor leadership, the problem is not always with an individual manager. Right? It very well may be the case that Sure, there could be a manager or leader who really is just really bad at their job. No matter how much training they have, no matter how much experience they have, they just aren’t a good manager or they are not a good leader. That does happen. But I think it’s more so the case that there are plenty of librarians that probably would make really good leaders, they would make really good managers. So I think then the subsequent question that we had asked is our library schools, training future librarians then to be good leaders, and to be good managers to know how to handle these situations of library dysfunction in libraries and know how to address it know how to create that positive culture, those positive mindsets. This is not a question that I am going to answer, or even pretend to answer in this discussion. But I do think that that is the root question that has to be asked. So in some, I’ll say my strategy. My advice for individual folks in libraries who are working in dysfunctional environments, do what you can, whatever it takes to engage in self care, that is an important conversation to have. But like I said, it’s also to have that parallel conversation that even though you are taking care of yourself, that doesn’t mean unfortunately, that the larger problems and issues are, they’re likely not going to go away. I know that probably sounds very depressing. 

Ray: Fran, how about you?

Fran:  Sure and Spencer, thank you for taking the larger organizational or system wide view of it. I’m going to come down at perhaps individual or I would suggest group level. And that derives in part from my experience, longtime experience in academic libraries, but also from grievance work. And how you deal with complaints. Are some of the real nitty gritty nuts and bolts pieces of it or are that when you go to meetings, if there are things that bother you, or particular if you’re in a one on one meeting, make notes, record contemporaneous notes. If you’re in a situation where you can’t take notes at that at that point. If it’s a situation in which there is someone who’s meeting, meeting and taking notes, where you haven’t taken notes, you repeat in writing what it is you think you heard, and you send that message to the person who chaired the meeting or who was with you in that one on one meeting. And you might close the message with a line saying something of you know, I understood this properly. If not, I’d be happy to be corrected you know, please tell me what I do didn’t get get right, but it does a couple of things. And one it gives the person a chance to explain if maybe something was misunderstood, but it begins to create a record and it is important to keep a record. If you get called into meetings, and you’re uncomfortable about don’t go on your own, take somebody with you take a calling with you. Ask what the agenda will be before you go into any meeting and that’s whether or not it’s a one on one. That’s whether or not it’s a committee it’s whether it’s a larger body like a Library Council or library board. You have a right to know what that meeting is about. Because you’re being asked to participate in it. If you look, for example, at the way in which you set up this this podcast, right you let us know what this conversation was going to be about. That’s the way in which people can participate and be part of something and contribute meaningfully and not knowing that in advance is really a professional discourtesy. I would say if you can’t avoid having a meeting sprung on you, you know, I want you to come to my office in 20 minutes. So you know, we need to have a discussion about this and in 45 minutes, part of that haste, whether or not it’s the deliberate intention of shadowing something on such notice is in fact to put the person who’s being asked to go into that meeting off balance, putting them at a disadvantage before things even begin. So refuse them out. Now’s not a good time. Can you tell me what it is? It’s about, I’ve got some time tomorrow. It’s such and such, but don’t let yourself be pushed into that. And sometimes people will agree to do that because they want to appear as if they’re helping. They’re helping to solve the problem. They want to be amenable. They do want to come across as as a positive, team player. Talk to others. And this can be tricky, because when you get into a dysfunctional system, the trust level is going to be very, very low. You don’t know who’s talking to whom. But if there is a cohort of people with whom there seems to be some sympathy, it’s worthwhile talking to that group. And in cases where I have seen change in leadership and change in an organization, is because a group of people got together to do something and record their concerns, but they didn’t do that individually in any way. So and then coming from a union perspective, I would say, talk to your union. You may find that your concerns connect up with others and they can help with that. So that’s a little bit more of a finely grained response to that.

Ray:  Yeah, those are great advice, Fran. It’s very helpful to apply in the day to day work. We often do in libraries with meetings and planning things and then just having a record of it totally agree. I also appreciate sensors framing of the question itself, and then trying to not set the boundaries and recognizing that it doesn’t necessarily change the workplace, but at least for the individual to sort of find some way to separate one’s situation right from personal life. And now with that being said, I know there’s been a lot of discussion on this topic, particularly since COVID-19. And it’s something that has really accelerated some of the issues that we’re talking about, and or maybe really exacerbated right? And so, I want to ask, what are your thoughts on the pandemic, and how’s it made work difficult, or maybe just some changes that you’re seeing and maybe we’ll start with Fran?

Fran:  Sure, I think the pandemic has isolated people in and broken apart communities of interest, which is a real challenge for people in the workforce, and particularly in the workforce, like libraries, where people do work together and feed things from from one unit to another feed a query from one person to another. And I think that that’s made things very challenging. And about a shift in how people might approach their work has also potentially ended a sense of accomplishment from one’s work. You’re getting different sorts of feedback. And so you think it’s harder to figure out whether or not you’re on the right track or whether or not you’ve done the right thing. And I think people have really struggled to maintain their their peer networks. conferences have been delivered in in different ways and interest groups meet in different ways. And no, you don’t necessarily have to get to get together face to face on a regular basis. But there is something in that conviviality, which is important. And the pandemic has flattened or squelched all of that, at least in what I’ve seen.

Ray:  Right? And even for a conference like the World Library Information Congress, IFLA, it was canceled in 2020, 21 was virtuals, which went to it was in person but like a lot of people still couldn’t attend and yeah, those meetings really could re energize folks right after being in these difficult situations but also like it’s hard, because then we can’t actually make make that take over take advantage of the opportunity because of the common situation and it’s still with us. And well, what are your thoughts, Spencer?

Spencer:  Well, first I want to thank Fran for those comments. I absolutely wholeheartedly agree that I think that there are folks working in libraries and archives, another LIS environments worldwide, really, that do experience this feeling of isolation, that do feel that their accomplishments have been upended, and that are struggling sort of to maintain their existing peer networks and create new networks. So I just want to thank Fran for sharing those perspectives. I think I want to talk about this in terms of part of the book that’s coming out that we talked about earlier, one of the chapters in this book I co authored, and it’s about bullying in the library workplace. And one of the things that we address in that chapter and through that study is, or one of the things that we wanted to look at was not just the bullying in libraries, but also we wanted to add in the topic of COVID and the pandemic into that study. And so we did a survey and we received over 500 responses from this survey that went out across various parts of the of the United States. And so one of the survey questions asked if respondents believed COVID had any impact on their bullying experience for those that said that they had experienced bullying. And one of the main findings from that study and as written in the chapter is that among those respondents who said that they had been bullied at work, that when for many folks, the shift happened from working in libraries to working from home for those respondents that were able to work from home, that that shift did not necessarily decrease bullying exposure for them. Because as many of those respondents said that behavior that bullying behavior that happened in person in libraries in the workplace before COVID moved online, it was probably already happening by email. But now we have zoom and other online tools that allow that has allowed people working from home to interact with each other. And so that bullying experience didn’t necessarily decrease. I just sort of moved away from being in person to to the online environment. And another finding was that there were a number of respondents that reported in fact being bullied for following CDC protocols. When library workers went back to working face to face in libraries that when this happened, there were there were workers that you know, wanted to follow the CDC protocols by engaging in activities like social distancing, for example, right wearing masks and so on, but experienced being bullied for wanting to do that, perhaps from other workers who perhaps didn’t agree with the CDC protocols. They didn’t think social distancing matter. They didn’t think wearing masks did anything. And so in this sort of behavior, and so so yeah, I just I think that for this particular question, I wanted to talk about it in terms of that particular study that again, just to recap, bullying, when it was happening in person for the pandemic, it sort of shifted and just really moved online. And that there were respondents that said, even whenever we return back to work, we still got bullied for wanting to sort of follow the protocols of the CDC and there were not many people that reported the onset of bullying during the pandemic. There were some who said that, that during pandemic, the bullying behavior began, but for many people it was already in place it was already happening. It just moved even more so online when the pandemic happened.

Ray:  So is this also part of this other project that I get seen in your website? “Libraries are horrible places to work in: qualitative analysis of workplace bullying” and can you tell us more about that?

Spencer:   That’s a good question. Thanks for asking. It’s it’s a part of the same project. But the the article or the project that you just mentioned, libraries are horrible places to work. Interesting title that actually is a direct quote from one of the anonymous respondents to the survey that I was just talking about. They answered one of the open ended questions by saying libraries are horrible places to work. But that project, that’s the working title of a an article that I’m working on using that same dataset, but that article is going to exclusively be a qualitative analysis, using that full dataset of over 500 surveys that we got back, pulling out only the open ended responses, and doing a thorough qualitative analysis of that material.

Ray:  Oh, that sounds really great in terms of the process, and thank you for giving us a preview of what that project will entail. It’ll be a scholarly article. That’s the plan. Yes. And Fran. We have a question for you here of how do you process your experiences as a former faculty association president, how do you encourage others to serve in such a role that might be dealing with difficult and toxic situations?

Fran:  In an academic setting, the experience of being involved with the Faculty Association on the executives, we’re doing grievance work during the negotiations, that’s permitted the building a very strong relationships with those in the professorial stream unless you get out of the library silo. It’s been useful for having about Congress having conversations about what academic librarians or archivists can do, how they can be integrated into the teaching and research of the institution in the ways that we’re been able to follow those through really invigorate, academic librarianship and in a significant way, it’s afforded an opportunity to work with and deal sometimes with shared purpose. And sometimes in conflict with senior university officials. You do wind up talking to the president of the university and you do wind up talking to the vice presidents. You do end up in situations where you learn something about the Board of Governors and what kinds of pressures that puts on administration. You learn a lot about the university writ large, certainly with respect to financial matters, and as I mentioned to the Board of Governors there can be a measure of protection and that there are colleagues will have your back. It gives you a chance to talk about something that’s going on in the library and say with somebody in the professorial stream and ask the question, you know, just to seem off to you, am I am I reading this right? And getting an outside perspective that that can help figure out what it is you might do. You will learn and see things that will ever change your view of the institution and the kinds of people in administrative positions. And when I get asked by people whether or not they should get involved with the Faculty Association, I encourage them to do so you can start on a committee you don’t need to go immediately to the executive. But there will be things that once you see and hear them, you can never remove them from your consciousness. And it lets you see the or you see the institution in a very different way. So I certainly do encourage people I have done so we will continue to do so. An interesting, it’s often difficult in toxic situations that bring people in there, they’re looking for help.

Ray:  It wasn’t really great points. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts here. Now we are coming into our last question here, which is, are there any other points that you’d like to share with our listeners? Let’s have Spencer first.

Spencer:  Sure. Thank you so not, not really I don’t other than I hope that for those listeners who do decide to check out the work that I’m doing in the in this particular area. Starting of course with this book that is getting ready to come out. If you do happen to get a hold of it. You know whether you get a copy yourself or through the library, interlibrary loan, whatever, and you read it, I would welcome you discussion and conversations and comments. Through Twitter. I am on Twitter. You can look me up there. And so I just wanted to put that invitation out for all the listeners and politically those that get a hold in some way or another the book to do some of the reading. If you have comments about it and and want to have discussions about the content, feel free to reach out to me and also many of the authors in the book are also on Twitter as well and so hopefully, there can be some additional future conversations that happen around this room or topic.

Ray:  Great, Fran?

Fran:  I guess the comments that that I would share at this point would be Spencer. It’s really interesting to see that your work is coming out now. I guess. Having been involved in the area for over 30 years. It’s about time. So I look forward to seeing where your research leads. And I’d be very interested in the kinds of reaction you get to the work that you’re doing. Well done.

Spencer:  Well, thank you, Fran. I really appreciate it that.

Ray : I’m happy to say during our conversation so for our listeners, we’re recording this on Zoom our cameras off my job has dropped dropped a few times listening to the so insightful conversations and thoughts are shared because it’s it’s still like oh my gosh, like wow, I didn’t think about that. And so I really really want to thank Fran and Spencer for such an awesome conversation on a really difficult and complicated topic. And it sounds like what Fran shared earlier like it’s an opportunity for us to really talk about this. And so we’re gonna wrap up this conversation and again, just a note, CPDWL is pleased to be partnering with the IFLA management and marketing group on facilitating this topic. So in addition to this podcast discussion, you’ll see more conversations on this important topic later. Thank you all for listening.