Welcome to librarianship in Iowa! The State Library supports library directors to reach success as a leader and provide outstanding library service to their community.
Running a library can be daunting and overwhelming at first. The following tips offer ways to help you start off strong on your path to success.
1. Tap into Your District Consultant
Your State Library district consultant should be your first point of contact. They will be your mentor, teacher, advocate, and cheerleader. Reach out to them shortly after you start to schedule a new director orientation meeting. They will help you navigate State Library programs and resourcs, and will also make sure you are on the State Library email lists so you receive important updates.
2. Connect with Your Support Network
Realize that you have an entire network of support! Besides your library board (which should provide you with orientation specific to your library), there are fellow librarians in your county, the Iowa Library Association, and of course the staff at the State Library. A good place to start connecting is Library Talk, the State Library’s online discussion forum for the Iowa library community. Create a thread to introduce yourself and browse posts to see the current “happenings” in Iowa libraryland.
3. Get Ready to Learn
One of the core goals at the State Library is improving library service in Iowa. Library directors and staff across the state look to the Continuing Education program for best practices and innovative ideas on every aspect of library management. Iowa Public Library Standards state that public library directors must achieve State Library Endorsement for the library to reach and maintain accreditation. IA Learns is the State Library’s online learning management system. Users can sign up for live courses, complete self-paced learning, and work through the Endorsement program.
4. Communication is Key
Finally, work on developing good communication skills. Although you only answer to the library board in theory, in reality you need to regularly communicate with a broader group of people. These include your city council, city colleagues, library staff and volunteers, and (of course) your library patrons and community members. Maintaining an open and responsive dialogue with your library’s stakeholders can make the difference when challenging situations arise. Tap into your district consultant for ways to develop good communication practices and tools.
Best of luck on your directorship journey!