May 10, 2007

Do you know your Mission?

As mentioned previously, I started a new position in January. This week I had my new job "orientation." Naturally, I did the univeristy's orientation shortly after I started. My current library also has a new employee orientation. Sounds hokey and in a way, it is. On the other hand, it was good. Basically, it's spread over 2 days for about 2 1/2 hours each day. The first day, the Dean and Assc Director meet with us and give basic information. We also hear from the Staff Assocation (this library has about 120 employees) and visit the other libraries (Science & Engineering and Architecture & Fine Arts). Day two involves visits to and overviews from each of the different library departments. I had a lot to do, so was I bit stressed about losing a couple hours for a tour of my workplace (especially since on day two when I lost my whole morning just trying to get onto our network due to issues related to the latest storm). However, it was a good thing. I know what departments there are, but it completes the picture to hear from them what they do.

One of the most interesting aspects for me though was on the first day, when the Dean of the Library went over the Library's Mission Statement. I'm pretty sure I saw the Mission Statement for the library I worked at previously, but I can't tell you anything about it. The one here is one sentence. Short and to the point followed by statements for supporting the mission. One of the ways they support the mission is to "hire and develop knowledgable staff." This spoke to me. I'm sure other mission statements do this, but it was cool to see staff development as a way to support the mission. It seems basic, but I think a lot of places tend to overlook this. You can offer everything under the sun, but if the staff can't support it or isn't knowledgable about it, what good is it?

The Mission Statement naturally led to the Values Statement. Again, one item stood out. "Respect - an understanding and appreciation of the individual skills, abilities, opinions, and diversity of our users and staff." Too often, respect is no where to be found. I once had someone say to me "she'll just have to do it the new way" in regards to someone I supervised and our transition to a new system. My theory about this was whatever works for her. I can't ignore a new system and must use what the university uses (so must she), however, if adapting includes something someone else might not do or might seem odd to someone else, who am I to say she shouldn't as long as the job gets done (and she did it very well). It might not be the way I would do it, but then I'm not the one doing the job. My dad once told me I was washing the dishes wrong. I can't see how one can do that wrong as long as they come out clean, but the big lesson I learned from that was everyone does things differently and no method or way is wrong as long as it accomplishes the job. So, to see "Respect" in a Value Statement really jumped out at me. I've not been here long enough to say "yes, they practice this," but I haven't seen anything that says they don't either.