Westerville Public Library: Following Remarkable Footsteps

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On May 30th, 2017 we visited Westerville Public Library and we got the chance to hear from its leader for the past 28 years; Don W. Barlow who is retiring in the coming few days. Listening to Don’s vision on the operations of the library has inspired me hugely and opened the horizon for me to try and implement some of his strategies at my library once I go back home.  He started his overview of the library by Thanking all of us for choosing to be Librarians! That was quite touching for me. It demonstrated how much he values library professions and it also acted as an engorgement for all of us ” new librarians”. He also described us as the ” Gatekeepers of information; not any type of information, but accurate information” This is especially important nowadays with the increase of fake news that we are witnessing nowadays.

He described the Public Library is being the right for all people to have. Working in Qatar National Library, which also serves as a metropolitan library, his words had me thinking about the  way that we would like people in Qatar to perceive our library. The library is there for everyone, not Qataris only.  It is established to disseminate knowledge to all people in Qatar despite their origins, cultures or religious.

I was also inspired by the way Don described the Library visitors as Costumers. This got me thinking as we are somehow reluctant to call them as such in our library. I realized that it doesn’t really matter what we call them as long as we give them all our attention and provide them with the services that they need. Don explained that “No matter what you think about yourself, What really matters is what the costumer thinks of you”. I now believe this is an important note that all librarians need to keep in mind. Librarians must facilitate access to information for their users; they want to reach the information that they need easily and complicate things for them.

Librarians must feel the ownership of their library and serve  costumers with all their passion. this is an important mindset that I will look at transferring to my team back home.  Library staff should also feel that they are appreciated in the library and leaders must encourage them to implement their ideas without criticizing them. They must always be able to adopt to change and try new ideas. Don also explained that ” organizations must be able to make staff’s dreams come true”. I really liked this statement and I believe that if libraries were able to provide such opportunities to its staff, they will be able to have their full commitment and passion into work.

I have learned a lot from Don in that brief session and look forward to try some of his leadership ideas with y team.

Thank you Don!

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