give them help

“When I think of the need we are serving, I am able to accept the stacks of forms on my work desk better.” RickLibrarian

Pretty much every time I’m in a conversation with librarians about the implementation of a new technology, someone asks something to the effect of, “This is great! I love it, I get it, but how do I convince other people at my library that we should be doing this?” Staff buy-in is a huge issue. There are many reasons an individual might not be interested in learning and using new technology. Discomfort with technology and fear of failure are two reasons stemming directly from the technology specifically, but there are also others. Here I’m thinking about a general dislike of change. It is probably easier to get people to warm up to technology than it is to alter their worldview regarding change, though I’m sure it can still be a monumental task. Can people resistant to change enjoy working in libraries? Maybe some Heraclitus would do them good.

So, what’s the best way to get staff to drink the proverbial kool-aid? You could present them with some statistics about the technology, but that’s not going to do much. Numbers are abstract and cold. You could tell them that every library is doin’ it, at which point they’ll expect you to jump off of a bridge. No, the best way to create buy-in is to appeal to their sense of being a good librarian. The most important trait a librarian can have is the desire to help.

Jettisoning technology’s emotional baggage and communicating that IM/weblogs/telephones/whatever meets a need in the community helps people understand why it is important. And I know this sounds harsh, but if people have lost their drive to be helpers they need to be far, far away from the public. Good librarians do all sorts of inconvienent things for the sake of better helping their users. Truly great librarians often don’t even see these tasks as inconveniences because they concentrate on the end result of helping rather than the means. I’m going to incorporate Rick’s story into my spiel about creating staff buy-in because the same great motivation is at work. While this weblog is mostly about technology in libraries, but I hope to inspire people to become good helpers along the way. Let’s make libraries easy.

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