I sat down last night to begin preparation for an upcoming workshop to be presented at the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference in November.  I have been so immersed in assessments, process improvements, analytics and the “how” of communicating value that accepting an invitation to discuss “The Value Dilemma: Using Data and Metrics to Demonstrate Leadership and Express Worth” seemed like a really good idea.

The value conversation for every library has some key foundations but the message that is ultimately delivered will vary widely.  Why? Because libraries vary widely.

In thinking about the audience for the November workshop I realized that I would potentially be speaking to school librarians, public librarians, corporate and other special librarians, and academic librarians.  The sizes of the organizations will be different.  The governance processes will vary.  The stakeholders and influencers are no doubt difficult to define.  All in all it reminded me that while the foundations are common, to deliver a message of value that has impact, customization is essential.

In the AALL Economic Value of Law Libraries report the Best Practices form a foundation that can be applied across any organization that is trying to deliver a message with impact.  It’s the nuance of the how that befuddles us.  Everyone dreams of an easy cookie cutter answer to the “how”?

Nothing about libraries is easy when it comes to defining and communicating our value.  Therefore, it is important to build tools and methods that work best for your organization. And remember, that will change as stakeholders change.  What is beauty to a CFO in terms of charts and numbers will be nonsense to a CEO who wants bullets and oral explanations.

Library leaders know the worth but often struggle with the expression of that worth. The struggle can be ended with understanding and the proper application of leadership skills.  Are you embracing your role as leader or are you too busy working? Have you considered the price that busyness may ultimately extract from you? The time is now to suit up and speak out. Express the worth!

Constance Ard
September 9, 2015