Keynote talk by Lance Werner, Kent District Library speaking at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) Annual Conference (May 3, 2018)
Left to right: Lance Werner, Barry McKnight, and Marge Loch-Wouters
I was doing my best to just listen but sometimes I was compelled to write stuff down. Here are my notes:
Lance says when you work at the library you are a public servant. He is a “humble champion of mushy stuff” because the mushy stuff matters. Lance says everybody and everything matters. “If you are a leader, you are just a head in the machine.”
Doing what’s right isn’t usually easy. When something starts getting easy, it’s time to push it to the next level. Strive to be uncomfortable.
Lance talked about losing his father when his dad was just 50. This resonated with me as I too lost a parent at the young age of 50. Lance says life is too short, do not wait. We have today. Each day is a gift.
Learn lessons from tough times. There is wisdom in loss and pain. Just make sure you are listening. Pay attention to the wisdom people pass on to you. They paid a lot for the wisdom through experience.
What amazon.com can’t take away from us is the interaction we have with people in the library.
You can do anything and be anything as long as you get steppin’. Lance warned us that he was about to swear and then he said, “Don’t be a chickenshit.”
He went on to say that kindness and love are required to work in libraries. At library conferences, we should be talking about how we touch people and lift them up.
Kindness does not equal weakness. You know that moldy strawberry in the pint? Get it out of there before it touches the rest. Lance expects his staff to be kind. There is no room for unkind in public service.
You spend more time with your colleagues than with your own family. Make it a nurturing place to work. Make people feel supported and that they matter.
We (library staff) are in the people business, not the book business.
At Kent District Library, they have what they call the “KDL Way,” a customer service philosophy.
Lance talked about the OCLC Voter Perception survey (learn more.) There was a big drop in % of people who said they would vote for the millage rate for libraries. We need to get out there and tell our story. Don’t rattle off percentages/numbers. Tell the story that happened at the library that made you want to cry. We spent two minutes sharing with our neighbor a story that moved us.
Lance said we need to move away from the “shhhh” stereotype and more to a “Hey!” (I’m approachable) type stereotype.