Unwilling To Be Led

Problem employees include those unwilling to be led, unwilling or unable to take direction.  Unwillingness to be led is a form of arrogance.  The person is so firm in his or her belief in the right way that he or she ignores messages to the contrary.  Those unwilling to be led, who don’t do the work requested, risk dismissal.  This dismissal may be slow in coming, given the carefulness of most human relations processes,.  The employee may gain a false sense of security.  But things can change.

Documented unwillingness or inability to respond to clear goals can result in being transferred to a position that does not involve supervision or other lacking abilities.   Having a witness to unacceptable performance previously-rumored-but-never-seen can result in immediate dismissal for cause.

A library’s path to success depends on staff at all levels responding to the needs of the larger organization.  The library leader must know the goals of the parent institution and adjust the library’s efforts accordingly.  Staff at each level of the library must follow suit.  This should not stifle innovation, assuming that the innovation serves the larger goals.  The best employees respond to the larger goals and directions.  The most exasperating ignore the organization’s goals and instead do what they prefer.

One may get away with this for a long time.  But, take care.  Circumstances change.  What you are not doing may overshadow what you are doing well.

Part of your job is making your boss’s life easier.  Even when that boss had obvious flaws, he or she is still the boss.  Making your boss’s life difficult by ignoring direction is risks crossing the line between valued employee and dead weight.

See also Collateral Damage (July 2012) and When Pretty Good Is Good Enough, January 2013) in this blog.

Useless Emotions

Emotions are what give us life, allow us to experience.  Most, even ones like grief, have their uses.  But some do not.

My least favorite is arrogance.  I suppose one could argue that arrogance is an attitude, not an emotion.  But bear with me.  Arrogance may give the bearer pleasure, feeling better than others.  But it doesn’t make friends, open dialogue, or facilitate learning.  It just makes other people feel bad.  Or dislike you.

Arrogance causes some to look down on others and – even worse – to convey that judgment clearly.  Most people learn over time that there are extremely capable people everywhere.  Once, I worked in the most prestigious institution in the state – the only one with international name recognition.  A few of my colleagues were inordinately proud of working there; they felt it gave them license to be rude and dismissive of others.  Yet, in my work in a statewide organization, I found some of the best – and most likeable – people at one of the community colleges.  Major universities certainly do not have a monopoly on talent.  But they often harbor staff with an excess of self-regard.

Harder to avoid than arrogance is regret.  Saying something thoughtless, missing an opportunity to praise, or forgetting an important commitment – these things happen.  Feeling regretful does not undo them.  But dwelling on them – beyond the little internal voice saying, “Don’t do that again!” – is time and energy wasted.  We may look back and think we could have done better.  But the healthy approach is to realize that we were doing the best we could at the time, and that has to be good enough.  And, then move on.

Good people are self-critical and hold themselves to very high standards.  Only in retrospect do they realize that their contributions outweighed their failures – or they would never have continued to advance.  With some time and perspective, realization dawns that one was doing the best one could, and mostly it was good enough.

Lessons from Workshops

Early in my career I was sent to a workshop.  I had no idea what to expect.  I remember two things about it.  One was that I was an hour late because daylight saving time had taken effect overnight and I wasn’t aware of it.  So I missed the round-the-room introductions and started off at a disadvantage.  The second was that one participant stood out as different from the rest of us – much older, cheerful but not really engaged.  Over time I realized that he was someone’s personnel problem.  His supervisor was not satisfied with his performance and had sent him to this workshop in the hope that he would pick up some skills she wished he had.

This workshop came to mind recently when talking with a young colleague who had been sent to his first workshop for new supervisors.  He mentioned several participants who talked a lot but contributed little.  As our conversation progressed, we realized that these were probably also someone’s personnel problems, sent to the workshop in hopes of their performance improving.  As my young friend re-imagined the sessions, he could pull out those who – like him – were truly there to learn and who did learn.

And, I recognized myself – not as the young puzzled participant – but as the manager who had indeed sent more than one incorrigible employee out to be improved, often more than once, and with no results.  But dealing with the incorrigible is another story.  This post is about workshops.

My advice to younger staff is to take advantage of workshops offered.  I say, “If even ten percent of what you hear is useful, your time has been well spent.”  I have gained so much insight, picked up turns of phrase that I use every day, and become so much more effective that I really believe in staff development.

One day-long session on women as managers stands out particularly.  I was one of a group of the women brought together from across the campus administration.  The workshop leader challenged us with advice on how we should be comporting ourselves if we wanted to be effective managers.  All of us were a bit taken aback by some of the advice.  Some were shocked at “being told to be manipulative!”  The piece of advice that triggered that response was to never go into a meeting without knowing what you want to get out of it.  The discussion was lively.

Six months later the same group of women met with the same group leader.  What I remember from that session was that we had all internalized and had begun to practice the very things that we had found so shocking.

Self-knowledge is often the most useful long-term outcome of good workshops.  I still have a file of the results of various tests I have been given over the years – things like the Myers-Briggs tests.  The most comprehensive and sophisticated one I took twice.  The test measured both what your likely responses would be to certain challenges and how firmly you would hold to those responses.  The first time I took the test, my responses to the challenges were spot-on, but my sureness of myself was near the bottom of the scale.  Just two years later, taking the same test, my firmness of purpose was well advanced.  I had a paper confirmation of growing skill and strength.

Lead the Whole Library

The easiest thing in a new job is to spot the brightest and the most promising.  They are the most fun to be around.  They quickly pick up on cues.  They make you feel bright and promising, too – just like them.  But an organization is not just the bright and promising.  It is a community, a strong but nimble team.

Years ago a colleague told me about her incredibly exciting time in a library that sparkled with talent, innovation, and enthusiasm.  But in a few short years that same library sank into dysfunction.  The hot shots all left to rise in the world.  The remaining staff, withering unnoticed in the shadow of the favored, weren’t able to maintain the excitement.  My colleague’s analysis was that the leadership had been misguided.  The leadership had been facilitating individual careers (including her own) but not nourishing a healthy organization.

Most libraries are understaffed.  Excellence is possible when the staff is a tight collaborative community.  People know each others’ strengths and fill in each others’ gaps.  Open and easy communication holds the community together and keeps it focused on shared goals.

Working in the University

Libraries and their leaders often focus inward on library issues and to have stronger connections with professional library associations than within their own college or university communities.  This was never optimum and it is no longer possible, if the library is to really serve its institution.

Historically, a faculty library committee has been the connection between the library and the rest of the campus.  I have found this far less effective than it is imagined to be.  Such committees pay close attention when budgets are being cut or when library leadership is questionable.  But maintaining useful interaction in ordinary times is difficult.  Often serving on the library committee is the least desirable of “service” for faculty.  The powerful faculty who would best serve the library have the least time and don’t want to be bothered in good times. 

My provost and I discussed this issue at length over the years we worked together.  We settled on – in trying times – appointing an ad hoc committee of powerful faculty to address the issues at hand.  The rest of the time, we would do without such a committee.  Instead, during ordinary times, I would use my ex officio position on the faculty senate council to keep key faculty up-to-date on library issues.  It was through my position on the council that I was able to get an open access task force established and a policy drafted and passed by the full faculty senate. 

Big data, digital humanities, and open access publishing are (according to the Chronicle of Higher Education) among the top digital issues for campuses.  Each of these has opportunity for libraries.  Librarians should be using their interactions at all levels of the institution to educate faculty about our knowledge of those issues and our ability to contribute significantly. 

Making Connections at the Top

As the new library director I found it easy easy to lay the groundwork for on-going relationships.  Senior administrators and senior faculty are eager to find out who you are, and some of this interest can be turned into enduring one-on-one relationships.  Making personal connections, doing your homework on each person you meet, asking them about their goals and challenges are good beginnings for an on-going relationship.   Getting each person past their limited view of librarians is essential; coming across as someone with broad interests opens doors for both casual and serious interaction.

I’m always interested in hearing about problems – by asking issues people had with the library or what they’d like us to do that we haven’t, I set a climate where honest expression of grievances is welcome.  In my first year I made one very good friend and ally accidentally.  When I ran into a professor at a grade school function, he mentioned in passing that the second volume of a French classic was missing, I had it replaced and had him notified. 

I’ve tried to get included in groups that meet regularly.  Some have paid off, some haven’t.  This is easier with administrators than with academic deans.  I’ve done both.  Although the connection with academic deans seems to most likely, their issues turn out to be tuition, enrollment, tenure, and faculty recruitment.  And their issues are more tied to the academic calendar than major library concerns.  If librarians at your institutions have faculty status, then they should be included in faculty committees.  But the library leader, even if called dean, has issues very different from the academic deans.  Scholarly publishing and intellectual property issues need faculty input, but are anathema to deans.  These two particularly are issues the deans consider the purview of faculty and not to be dictated by deans. 

I had hoped that when I became a director, I could avoid the surprise of new faculty being hired in subjects for which we lack library resources.  Some of these surprises can be avoided, by listening carefully and reading the fine print in university, school, and department statements and plans.  But I learned that sometimes, the posting for a faculty position is so broad that the applicants might be from three different specialties.  The most impressive may be hired and be the one for which there are few library resources. 

Financial Relations:  We library directors are managers of large-scale organizations and have issues in common with the institution’s financial management and campus computing.  Good relations with senior university financial managers are essential.  Library budgets are so unlike others that spending time building close ties to university finance staff is essential.  You need to convey that the costs of the information content are irrational and have little to do with ordinary inflation or cost-of-living increases.  And, you must convey the drawbacks of paying for books and journals in even installments over the fiscal year.  Most accountants want to see expenditures spread out evenly over the year; they get upset when they see eighty percent of a budget line expended in the second month of the fiscal year.  Every time there are changes in university accounting staff, you have to do educate them anew. 

Computing:  In several institutions, I’ve had close ties with senior leaders of the university computing organization.  And my library technology staff have built parallel connections with their counterparts for big-picture planning and for day-to-day operations.   Networks, standards, data management, and student and faculty support are areas for constant collaboration.

Human Resources:  The size of the library and its tendency to follow standard practices results in its often being the testing site for new human resources systems.  Establishing and following standards and rules is core to our nature as librarians.  So we are trusted to give new systems a thorough test and to provide frank and honest feedback.  Having that trust from human resources serves you well when you need to get approval for reorganizations, position upgrades or eliminations, and totally new positions.  And we do that often in these fast-changing times.

Parallel Connections with Teaching and Research 

When I was a young librarian, using the library meant going there.  The journals, the books, the indices and abstracts were all in the physical library.  So for librarians, simply being in the library and visible enabled us to keep in touch with our users.  But face to face contact with our library’s users has been almost eliminated by our advances in delivering both services and content to the users’ electronic devices.  Reference librarians’ pain at the loss of their walk-in customers is fresh.  Library leaders had to help these staff accept this reality and define new strategies to reach our users and find ways to make sure they were getting the best out of what we make available.

We had challenges.  One was to define what our users needed that was not being provided online.  The second was to make sure our staff had the skills and resources for active rather than reactive service.  But an overarching challenge – especially in a research institution – is to convey to faculty what knowledge we have of their disciplines.  Faculty recognize that we are not they – creators of new knowledge in their disciplines.  But they are not aware of our expertise:  is about how knowledge in their discipline is structured, published, archived, and accessed.  We know where the odd resources are and the keys to them.  And, we have built the technological and human connections for accessing those resources. 

The numbers of librarians (the majority) who are introverts make reaching out uncomfortable.  Library leaders need to accept that many staff need help building the skills required for everyone to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations.  Create workshops that share research on communication and engender discussion. Then provide role-playing practice for approaching strangers, entering into ongoing small group discussion, gracefully moving on from such a group, and making other people comfortable.  The library‘s or the institution’s human resources staff can create such workshops.  Or turn to your local professional organization to create and offer such workshops for your region.  We called our workshop Working the Room, or Breaking and Entering. It was picked up by one of our regional service providers and provided statewide.


Risking Getting Fired

In an article I wrote in the 1990’s, I referred to coming close to being fired three times in my career.  I have been asked more than once about those close calls.  So here goes.

One:  The first close call occurred in my first job after college.  I was one of a cadre of technology management trainees hired by a large corporation.  We worked in a facility that operated 24/7, 365 days a year.  In our training, we rotated through the day shift, the evening shift, and the night shift, changing schedules every two weeks.  We were to learn about all the work before we became managers.  The evening and night staffing was lean.  On those shifts we trainees got to do real work, learning fast.  On the day shift, however, the computer room was crawling with staff – twice as many as worked other hours.  Managers walked in and out, the occasional vice president showed up.   The person who oversaw our training sat at her desk in the office area.

I loved the off-hours shifts.  But working days meant standing around watching others work – boring! A month or so into our training, I was called into my manager’s office and told that I had violated the company sick leave policy.  This was the first I had heard about any such policy.  Indeed, my manager may not have known about the policy before the personnel department brought my record to her attention.  She certainly had not conveyed to me and fellow trainees what the policy was.  I had called in sick (for the day shift) more times than was acceptable.  I was guilty.  If I woke in the morning with a bit of a headache or perhaps a slight hangover, I didn’t have much incentive to get out of bed.  My manager gave me a warning – one more undocumented sick day and I would be let go – and my expected pay raise was delayed.

I was able to recover from this inauspicious start.  At an all-staff retreat soon after my run-in with personnel, we management trainees had to make 5-minute presentations to the 150 or so members of our division.  My presentation was on how support staff positions were graded.  I saw new high school graduates who had never seen a computer except in a science fiction movie being put to work as computer operaters.  The learning curve was steep, but once they mastered the intricacies of the process they glowed with pride.  When they got really good, they were promoted to desk jobs as glorified file clerks.  They became bored and dispirited.  My short presentation recommended changing the rankings of the positions, starting new hires in the file clerk jobs and promoting them to the more complex and interesting positions.

The division management implemented the change!  In the next few months, I was promoted and some months later, was myself assigned to supervise the next batch of management trainees.  I made a practice of checking in with my trainees on every shift.   I would mostly work the day shift but would sometimes come in early to have breakfast in the company cafeteria with the night shift trainees and stay late to spend some time with those on the evening shift.  And, I made sure that sharing company policies was part of the training.

Two:  I was working in a library where the senior leadership was stunningly dysfunctional.  The team was a combination of lifers and brash young hires.  The lifers were just mediocre enough to keep their jobs.  And the young hires were anxious for personal power without the experience or skill that would allow them to use that power well.  A few of us lower-ranked librarians were appalled at what we saw happening – staff grading systems jiggled to promote favorites, solid staff working for pittances, technology applied without adequate knowledge or support –  and much more. 

My colleagues and I were probably a little too energetic in our efforts to improve things and too obvious in our disdain for some members of the leadership team.  Two of us – in the view of our supervisors – crossed the line for insubordination.  One was fired by her boss.  She was hired immediately at a sister institution – in higher level position.  To our delight she got the position that her boss had expected tod be filled by his new wife.  A second colleague was fired by our director but quickly reinstated through the influence of the concerned faculty advisory committee.   We all ultimately left that university for higher positions elsewhere.

Three:  In the first half of my career, librarians were on a collision course – between our exquisite fine-tuning of bibliographic control procedures and the explosion in scholarly publishing.  As procedures were made more elegant, cataloging backlogs grew.  One research library had 150,000 volumes in their backlog.  Acquisitions staff  periodically checked the backlog, culling books no longer desirable for the collection; these went into the library’s annual book sale.

The increasingly complex procedures affected vendors.  At least one integrated library system vendor went out of business trying to meet the demands of its prestigious customers, working to make the system do everything a cataloger might ever want rather than focusing on the key processes all research libraries needed.   As an ex-computer programmer, this software development process was painful to watch.

In this national climate, I walked into a management team where the true power lay with the perfectionists.  In our library, a $500 business reference source aged in the backlog; when it finally reached the reference shelf, it was out of date.  We did not have an approval plan for acquiring books bfor lack of a central space where approval books could be reviewed by subject librarians before adding them to the collections.  And subject librarians submitting orders for new books were required to do careful investigation before submitting their orders to acquisitions.  We had a manual for subject librarians on how to prepare an order; it was more than 20 pages long.  Each of the subject libraries had its own staff for this careful order preparation so that central acquisitions and cataloging would not have to deal with possible ambiguities.

We were very slowly implementing an integrated library system.  The process suffered from our predilection for drafting complete documentation for everything that might possibly happen.  At one point it became obvious that six of us were carefully writing on a multipage procedure for something that might happen once in two years.

As a member of the management team, I thought I was honoring our highly valued system, but I must have asked some unwelcome questions.  Perhaps I inadvertently expressed dismay that the items in the bottom of the piles of unresolved problems on some librarians’ desks were more than a decade old?  Or that the three-foot-high stack of problem journal issues on a branch library office floor had toppled to the side; it had been that way long enough to have a serious layer of dust on all the exposed surfaces.

Eventually I realized some colleagues perceived me as a threat.  Some team members’ conversations stopped when I came into the room.  I suspected that my mail was being read and discussed.  I began to lose confidence in myself – to hesitate to trust my own judgement.  One member of the management team – admittedly a weak contributor – had been leveraged out soon after I arrived.  In retrospect, I realize that I was supposed to go next.  Luckily for me, the team member who had the unyielding commitment to perfection was offered a position elsewhere that, for personal reasons, could not be turned down.

Quite quickly, the ice in the air melted, coolly neutral parties became friendly colleagues, indeed backlogs even melted, and my belief in myself returned.  When I moved on several years later, my staff had to decide which of my commonly voiced comments to put on the T-shirt they gave me.  If I remember correctly, Tolerate Ambiguity won out over Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission.



Solving Problems, Making Change

I get hired for difficult jobs.  Only once in my library career was I hired to fill a position with no obvious problems; that was my first position out of graduate school.  Otherwise, I’ve had where people were struggling with technological change or where major personnel work needed to be done, or the where external situation had been corrosive and the organization needed to be restored to health. 

I thrive in such situations. Once, on becoming an AUL relatively early in my career, I was asked by a staff member (in a mildly hostile tone), “To what do you attribute your meteoric rise?”  I don’t remember having a good response for her then.  But I did ponder the question.  Technology experience (in years when it was still scarce) did help, but the real answer was that I had solved problems or made good things happen in all of my previous positions.  

However, even when you come into a position where there is thirst for change, you should not expect everyone to be happy about the changes you make.  People may be chafing under a controlling and tyrannical supervisor.  But those same people don’t want to see that person face the consequences of such behavior.  They want you to transform that person into someone different.  You will of course try mightily to encourage and engender more effective and less offensive behavior.  Sometimes it works.  But sometimes it doesn’t, and the only option is to make consequences  felt.  The consequences might be transfer to a position more fitting to the person’s inclinations and desires.  Moving a leader who won’t lead to a non-leadership position is one solution.  Or, if there is nothing that needs doing that the person is willing to do, then separation may be the only solution.   

Be prepared for people to be disappointed if you can’t “reform” problem staff.   You can work hard at giving a problem staff member the coaching, training, and support needed but if that person is confirmed in the wisdom of his or her actions and positions, there is not much you can do.  Really good people can be wounded by even the mildest constructive criticism, but they hear it and act on it.  But some are oblivious and dead certain you are wrong in wanting them to do things differently or do different things.  But, as long as you are not asking them to so something illegal or immoral, they are obliged to do what you and the organization needs.

You may also discover that, if a bad situation has been long-standing, some staff may have trouble adjusting to the new day.  Habits formed to compensate for bad environments can be hard to shake off.  Mending an organization may take a long time and some people who had “managed” under the old regime may not adjust to the new one.  This is a sad situation but sometimes inevitable.

Dealing With Conflict Is Doing Your Job

Not all conflict is dramatic or obvious.  But having a sharp eye for evidence of conflict is essential.  Leaders who ignore such evidence end up leading organizations that are in disarray, rife with factions, and far less effective and productive than healthier libraries.  Disagreement is healthy.  But suppressed disagreement is not.  Encourage disagreement; in a meeting, watch people’s faces for reactions; call on those people.  Ask, “Do you have a different thought?  Are there better solutions?” Surfacing disagreement often brings more balanced and successful solutions to whatever issue is on the table. 

There are people who thrive in an us-versus-them atmosphere.  Back-biting and second-guessing can be entertaining and a diversion from boring or familiar tasks.  People can bond over dislike of others who are threatening to them.  Leaders set the tone for the organization.  If you as leader can deal with different opinions without rancor, if you have worthy adversaries rather than enemies, others will respond.   

The candidates you interview won’t necessarily tell you if the atmosphere in your library is poisonous, but they will tell you if it isn’t.  When interviewing candidates (near the end of their interview days), I ask them what they have learned about us.   Comments such as, “I got the impression people really know and like each other,” or, “There seem to be a lot of opportunities for interaction here,” are volunteered.  I reply that they have identified something that is a great source of pleasure and pride for me.  Most of us have worked in at least one dysfunctional organization (or in a period where your organization became or overcame dysfunction) and we know it when we see it.

Solving One Personnel Problem

Leaders fix problems.  Problems have multiple parts.  Sometimes the problem is lack of shared vision.  Sometimes the vision is spot-on but the procedures are flawed.  Sometimes the computer systems are unreliable or badly designed.  And, sometimes human conflict reigns.  Sometimes the problem is all-of-the-above.  But the most challenging problem is human conflict.

Addressing conflict requires bravery; bravery is a much-needed and relatively uncommon leadership attribute.  There are many scenarios where lack of bravery shows its true colors, but the most common one is personnel management.   People who dodge personnel issues often excuse themselves with arguments about compassion.  Focusing on performance deficiencies is seen as mean-spirited.  But not addressing deficiencies affects everyone in the workplace.  Staff morale suffers.  Good workers see others getting away with not pulling their weight.  Someone who does not meet the needs of his or her position generates unfair workloads for those that do. 

An example.  I was once promoted into a position that had all of the above problems.  The circulation system – an early installation – had never worked well.  The leadership had little experience with technology.  Service was erratic and often slow, faculty and students were unhappy, and of course staff morale was low.  Paper-based pre-automation procedures were retained because they were “better” and more familiar (and didn’t fail unexpectedly).  The computer system did fail, and frequently.  I brought technology expertise to deal with the problems we were having with our technology vendor but it took quite a bit of time to get key things fixed.  But the most challenging issue was staff conflict.

The two key people – the desk supervisor and the computer technologist – were good and well-meaning but did not relate to or trust each other.  But we needed the two to work together as a team to solve the problems we faced.  After speaking with each of them separately, I tried meeting regularly with the both of them in my office.  The level of distrust and apprehension was so great that we accomplished little.  Finally, I discovered a communication method that worked. 

There was a wide hallway between the circulation area and the computer room – neutral territory.  I found that if the three of us “met” standing in that hallway, we could “discuss”.  Initially I would ask one a question about the particular problem we were facing.  He would turn red, but then venture an opinion.  Then I would turn to the other and say, “What do you think?”  He would clench his jaw but then provide useful information.  We went back and forth like this until we had a shared sense of the problem and a possible solution. 

On reflection, I think this process worked because standing in the hall wasn’t a real meeting and either one could walk away – but neither ever did.  We met like this for several months. But slowly, those meetings because calmer, even friendly, especially as our confidence grew and we solved one problem after another.   A year later we three went to a conference together and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.  When I left my job there, my position was eliminated.  One of the two was promoted and the other moved to a better job at the university.  They didn’t need me anymore.

Happy Ending (to Collateral Damage)

In a previous post on Collateral Damage I refer to a happy ending to the damaging experience.  In accepting the only available position left in the reorganization (head of circulation), I was able to negotiate more money and a second unit into the deal.  Adding interlibrary loan to circulation created a new department that was dubbed access- an emerging trend in those days – and I became the access librarian.

I knew little about circulation, but I did know computing – which was the expertise needed.  After a few months of problem solving and demanding good service from the system vendor, my staff and I reduced system downtime from 32% to 2%!  And, over the course of a year, we managed to end the feud between the computer room and the desk staff.  But that is another story.

When I became access librarian, I knew even less about interlibrary loan than I did about circulation.  Granted, as a graduate student, I had gotten the occasional book through ILL.  And, I did know that the acknowledgements pages in scholarly books often featured effusive thanks to interlibrary staff. 

I was initially cowed by the experience of the staff.  The librarian who did the catalog searching for ILL was retiring after 50 years.  The supervisor of the support staff had been in her position for 35 years – longer than I had been alive.  And in those days, interlibrary loan staff worked in isolation from the rest of the library staff so I didn’t even know them casually.  

I got to know them and gained their confidence by happy accident.  Doing research for my first-ever conference presentation, I sat at an empty table in the department, capturing data from the various forms that documented turn-around time for requests – as business went on around me.  The research results, comparing the turn-around times for requests submitted by mail, by telex machine, and through OCLC and the Research Libraries Group, were embarrassing obvious.  However, my sitting there for weeks got the staff used to my presence; I got to know them and they were no longer afraid of me.  And I was able to use what I absorbed to to justify new equipment and more student assistants and to recommend a some  changes that reduced work backlogs.

And it turned out that I got involved in ILL at just the right moment.   I participated in the ten-year revision of the American Library Association’s Interlibrary Loan Code and witnessed the loosening of the tight regulations on who had the right to borrow through interlibrary loan and what could be lent.  The code changed from ILL service being restricted to faculty and graduate students writing dissertations to include the entire university community – even undergraduates!  And restrictions on what could be lent (no geneology materials, please) also were relaxed.

A number of groundbreaking events were making transformational change possible. I was able to play a part in transforming interlibrary loan from a cottage industry to a high-volume operation, surviving the explosion of demand for ILL by retraining rather than increasing staff. 

The changes ground-breaking in interlibrary loan are another story.  But riding that wave of transformation made my career, first propelling me to national attention and ultimately to regional and North American leadership positions.  So, the collateral damage I incurred earlier led to unexpected opportunities.