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Trustee Training: South West PA

What values doeTrustee Training in SW PAs your library building convey? What is the board’s annual agenda of work? Will Alexa take over the reference desk? These were some of the questions posed to the 56 library trustees and directors who attended the SWPA Region Trustee Training on April 29th in Greentree. Marilyn Jenkins, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA), welcomed the attendees who came from Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. Kimberley Hrivnak, ACLA’s Assistant Director and member of PaLA’s Legislative Committee provided an update on library legislation at the state and federal levels.  Each of the day’s three main speakers then led attendees to reflect on their work in a new way.

The first of the three speakers was Andrew Ellis, Vice President of Health & Learning, Green Building Alliance, who spoke on the topic, How Can our Physical Spaces Reflect our Shared Values? Drawing on his work as the co-director of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Academy, Andrew described a different approach to renovations and building projects that begins with a community discussion of values. By showing photos of the exteriors and interiors of schools and libraries, Andrew helped the group see how physical spaces do communicate different values. Attendees divided into small groups equipped with paper and markers to select a guiding principle (e.g., education, enjoyment, achievement, collaboration) and consider how it might be embodied in a library. During the report out, we found that all but one of the groups chose “inspiration” as their top guiding principle.

Deb ThompsonNext, Deb Thompson, President of Strategy Solutions, Inc. based in Erie, gave a presentation chock full of best practices for Motivating Board Members: Increasing Involvement through Effective “Agenda” Management. Attendees enjoyed using a clicker system for real-time polling of demographics and answers to posed questions. (An anonymous clicker system encourages more audience interaction. No one knows if you choose the “wrong” answer!) Deb’s main theme was that the library’s strategic plan should provide the framework to structure an annual “agenda of work.” In between regular board meetings, committees work on their tasks outlined in the agenda. During full Board meetings, progress is monitored against goals. Discussion is more engaging and meaningful when it focuses on the library’s goals, and everyone sees progress.

After a buffet lunch, 2008 Library Journal Mover and Shaker David Lee King talked about Trends and Tipping David Lee KingPoints – What’s on the Technology Horizon for Libraries? David defines tipping points as those technologies that are now in regular use in most libraries – such as wifi. Trends are the new technologies that may have been adopted by some of the general public, but are not yet in common usage in libraries. Of course, libraries vary in their speed of technology adoption, but the overview of new technologies encouraged board members to think ahead. Being more intentional in tracking how technology is impacting everyday life allows libraries to integrate that technology into programs and services, accommodating community expectations.


This workshop was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.

submitted by
Laurie S. Anderson, GPC
Grants & Special Projects Coordinator
Allegheny County Library Association


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