Report: The Renewal Colloquium for Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (December 2021)

Two weeks ago, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) held their Continuing Education Forum and invited me to lead a  Renewal Colloquium. Just under 50 were in attendance at the event, which was held virtually. 

This reports shares some attendee data generated from the event’s pre-work activities, along with some data from the session’s evaluation survey.

Pre-Colloquium Questionnaire Highlights

  • Library Type
    • 62% Other
  • Represented areas of practice
    • 56% Other
  • Career length
    • 66% 10 years or more
  • Topic Interest
    • 26% Emerging countermeasures and best practices to reduce/interrupt low morale
    • 24% Identifying and cultivating positive leadership styles

Goals for attending the Colloquium

  • “Understanding and communicating strategies to mitigate low morale.”
  • “[L]earning to ‘press pause’.”
  • “How low morale impacts an organizations, and what leaders at all levels can do to counteract and correct”
  • “I want to get closer to understanding how to properly address issues with burnout and resilience culture with supervisors and how to facilitate actual organizational change concerning these issues, because as a librarian with multiple invisible disabilities, this is a subject very near and dear to me.”
  • “How to support/encourage teammates suffering from low morale and/or burnout.”

 Low-Morale Experience Survey Highlights 

  • Have you experienced low morale?
    • 75% Yes
  • Length of low-morale experience
    • 35% More than three years
  • Perpetrators of abuse
    • 32%  Library supervisors or managers; 27% Library supervisors or managers
  • Types of workplace abuse experienced:
    • 34% Emotional; 30% Verbal/written
  • Feelings experienced during low morale:
    • 15% Frustration
  • What contributed to low-morale experience?
    • 12% Uncertainty & Mistrust; 10% Leadership Styles
  • Behaviors noted/considered:
    • TIE: 17% A desire to change careers; Decreased professional engagement; Decreased work productivity
    • 16% Decreased willingness to collaborate.

Colloquium Evaluation Report Highlights

Things learned or more clearly defined:

“The concepts of legacy toxicity and crossfire were a little unclear to me prior to this, but the Colloquium really made me understand them and how I’d been affected by them or seen them in action before.”

“Being able to more clearly define toxic leadership characteristics. Thank you so much.”

”The information that Kaetrena shared on the low-morale of library administrators was extremely informative and helpful. The information about the various impact factors was new to me and provides me with a better understanding of what library administrators are experiencing.”

Share how attending this Colloquium may influence your daily or long-term library practice:

“I think this is going to impact me both as a leader and as part of the staff responding to leadership, actually, but the encouragement on setting boundaries really hit home, not just as an employee but setting boundaries as a leader and thus leading by example. Developing a more equitable and supportive work culture has to start somewhere, and refusing to lay down the expectation that people can and should do more with less is something that I want to take with me.

“It helps me to consider past trauma that people might be arriving with, and to show up with compassion and understanding.”

“It will allow me to better understand my leadership style and shortcomings I may not have noticed before.”

Recovery plans (personally or at work):

“I think the most helpful were the tips on assertive communication and boundaries. One of the aha moments for me was when you spoke about how we know when our boundaries have been crossed. We feel uncomfortable, we have internal dialogue. Wow! How come no one has ever told me this before! (and how come I’ve never put that together?) I’ve been working on trying to let people know my boundaries for at least a decade, and I think this is the most helpful advice I’ve been given about the topic. It makes perfect sense to recognize it and then talk about it.

“I just came from a terrible situation. I am only a [bit] into this new position and I clearly need to pay closer attention to what I am carrying with me from that experience.

“Thankfully, I am in a good place right now. But this training definitely made me think back to previous experiences and how they could have gone differently.”

Topics recommended for discussion/consideration:

“Would have liked more time for the info at the end about solutions beyond self-care. So much good information about collaborative care, self-preservation, empathy.”

“The idea of FAIRNESS, as an “essential” worker during covid -I had to be in the building – while others are at home, ESPECIALLY seeing large private offices empty, (when management could open a window and close their door and still work safely in the building.)”

Ready to host a Renewal ColloquiumLet’s plan your event!


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