During the fall term, the staff of the OWHL is busy evaluating the progress that we are making towards the goals articulated in our “action plan” for this academic year. This process has inspired me to share some of the ways in which the OWHL is great.
We never rest on our successes, but subscribe to the principle that we can get better. As the leader of this effort, I work hard at communicating a vision of greatness. Because there are many barriers to continuous improvement, we ask lots of questions and listen to the answers. I remind myself that visionary leadership is impossible without terrific staff, and that they need to be inspired, liberated, and cherished.
The OWHL staff is passionate about our work because we know that what we do matters. We all view our jobs as both interesting and important. We know that many of our students come to us believing that they can find everything they need online, and that this approach won’t support academic success at Andover or in college. We are dedicated to intervening with targeted instruction in order to assure that our students graduate with the information skills they need to support the critical thinking that they will be required to do as lifelong learners.
The OWHL Culture supports innovation and effective teamwork, and avoids complacency, mediocrity, and blame. We strive to “get to the yes” even when it requires flexibility and lots of patience. We try to do more than what is expected, the majority of the time. We have created a Culture of Generosity, which means that we constantly try to identify and meet needs, even before the students, faculty, and staff know that they have them. An example is our recent addition of a BookScan station, which we acquired through an Abbot grant. It is wildly popular with students, event though most had never heard of such a machine before we installed it.
Our efforts to provide first rate customer service have paid off in tremendous “customer loyalty.” The “Senior Exit Survey” that we conducted last spring is full of accolades to the dedicated work of the library staff. Our current students are our best “marketers.” I recently overheard a student who was speaking with a new student emphatically recommend a consultation with one of the Instructional Librarians, on the grounds that “she saved my life in History 300 last year.” One of our happy customers recently (and spontaneously) wrote an Ode to the OWHL, which is currently displayed in our lobby.
We provide lots of opportunities for user feedback and practice Rapid Recovery. While prevention of problems is a great idea, it is not always possible in a creative industry. I’d much rather say that we tried something that didn’t succeed than say that we never made mistakes because we never tried anything new. When we get it wrong, we fix it fast.
If you have a suggestion for how we can keep getting better, we’d love to hear from you.