I’m really happy to have the opportunity to share an “early win” that happened under this new organisational approach from a staff perspective.

  • Specifically, a staff-led redesign of our website.

Our website had previously been languishing, it was old, it was clearly not serving either the public or staff particularly well. There was a disconnect between our website and our catalogue (e.g., menu options) and we were trying to figure out a way to make it all tie together.

  • There had been a desire to do this for a long time,
  • but the project seemed to be really expensive and time-consuming to outsource,
  • and it was just never something that was on the priority list.

When our new director came in and

  • she was talking to staff about what we could do,
    •  about what staff saw as possibilities for improvement,
  • a lot of our staff members said, “Please. Let’s redesign the website.”

One of our staff members in particular, one of our Systems Technicians, said,

  • “I’d like to update the website,

and I think we have the capacity to do it in-house.”
And with that led something which was completely new in our organisation.
Previously, our library – as most libraries are – had a very siloed approach

  • where each branch was responsible for their own activities, and
  • there wasn’t a lot of cross-communication between the branches or amongst staff.

The website redesign project allowed for staff to come together.

  • We were given the freedom, and
  • people essentially self-selected onto the team,
    • which was very unusual.

People could say, “Yes, I’m interested in working on the website team.”
We had people from all branches and all areas across the system:

  • We had people from our Systems department, obviously,
  • we had information desk staff who knew information about the resources and services we needed to make available.
  • We had members from our circulation desk who have a lot of daily interaction with patrons.
  • We had representatives from our adult services, our teen services, our children’s services,
  • as well as people from collection services and from our communications department.

And this was one of the first times where we had staff from all across the library system coming together to work on a project  that was basically staff-led and staff-directed.
The only real mandate that we had was

  • to make sure that the website fit in line with the other libraries on the North Shore, so with North Van City West Van, because a lot of the community members use all three libraries, so we didn’t want to have something which was so jarringly different that it set us apart. We wanted to have that piece of working together in collaboration with the other libraries.

The website redesign project was a great opportunity to play on staff strengths.

  • We learned how to work as a collaborative team.
  • Some people were very involved in the project:
    • creating the design, providing content and updating;
  • other people offered what they could,
    • with editing or offering alternate perspectives.
  • People contributed what they wanted to contribute and we played on staff strengths.

Now it wasn’t all roses and glory.

  • This was the first time staff had really had the opportunity to take initiative and move forward with a project.
  • We’d always previously had really clear direction from the management staff of
    • this is what you have to do, this is how we want you to do
  •  To have it be completely wide open was a brand new experience.
  • We had our first few meetings, and then
    •  … things lagged.

    Because there were other priorities and we didn’t really yet have the sense that we could actually take ownership

A few months later, the Director asked how the website was coming along and we said, “Well, ….”

  • She provided encouragement and support by telling us, “You get to pull this together. Do what you need to do to make it happen. Tell us what we need to support you. Go for it!”
  • One of the managers stepped in to help us determine timelines and deliverables.
  • And with that, we were reinvigorated and the project was finished less than two months later.

The website redesign was a great early-win project in this new organisational structure.

  • Staff were supported to take their ideas and create a collaborative team to fulfill them.
  • Although there were a few bumps along the way, we pulled the whole redesign together in from start to finish in about six months.
  • It was all done in-house.
  • It helped build our staff skills,
    • and certainly increased to morale as we were moving through these organisational changes.
  • Finally, it has had a lasting benefit of building the expertise of our staff
    • so we now have the skills and ability to continue to develop the website as we choose.

Return to Under the Hood

Links to panelist speaking notes:

Andrea Freeman, Manager of Welcoming Initiatives

Sabina Burnett, Circulation Assistant, Capilano Library

Ashika Debba, Circulation Supervisor, Lynn Valley Library

Krista Scanlon, Collection Services and Evaluation Librarian

Paul Taylor, Branch Librarian, Parkgate Library

Jacqui Jones-Cox, Branch Librarian, Lynn Valley Library

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