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Evaluating The State of The Library: Director Evaluation
MHLS Across The Board | Winter 2006
FOR YEARS library boards have asked us how they should evaluate the library director. We have responded by offering links on our web site and tools that we considered adequate, but we have never found a method that is superior. Now, after researching (using the excellent tools available through our HOMEACCESS databases), we have synthesized ideas and developed our own model. We think you will find it an effective process for improving the health of your library.
What Is Being Evaluated?
The board–director relationship is not a manager–employee relationship. It is a partnership for the purpose of running a highly important community organization: a public library. Rather than evaluating the director, you need to evaluate the administration of the library. This approach enables the board and the director, as a team, to design steps that will enhance the development of the organization.
Areas to be evaluated should provide a comprehensive view of the library’s operations. We have identified five areas, you may come up with others if you have specific local conditions such as a building project:
Use a form to assess the state of your library. The form should be based on the five areas above. Structure the form more tightly by adding questions under each area. For example, in the area of Customer Service and Community Relations:
|Level of patron satisfaction||E S N U|
|Customer service received by patrons||E S N U|
|Consistent application of policies that affect the public||E S N U|
View our suggested evaluation form that encompasses all five areas. Evaluation Form.
Each member of the board should individually respond to the form. In responding to the form, board members could refer to the plan of service, board minutes, usage statistics, program results or other information sources from the year. Once all forms have been submitted, summarize the results. A sample summation form is available on the MHLS site. This will provide the board with a picture of how the organization is functioning and will shape the evaluation process. If the summation shows:
Once the board has developed some agreement on the functioning of the organization, they should meet with the director, either as a full board in executive session, a committee, or one or two board members. The discussion should use the summation as an outline. Take this opportunity to discuss areas of weakness within the organization, then, with the director, develop goals to improve the organization. Also use this opportunity to tell your director if they are doing well in areas, no one likes their successes to go unnoticed.
The summation, with the issues to be addressed written in, should be signed by both the board president and the director.
Some might object that this model does not evaluate the director, but earlier models tend to separate the performance of the organization from the performance of the director. You could conceivably have situations where the library is failing, but the director is receiving a good evaluation. This model ties the responsibility for the performance of the organization to the director.
Comparison of Models
|Focus on Director||Focus on Library|
|Assumes Hierarchical Manager-Employee Relationship||Assumes Governance-Executive Partnership|
|Personality Driver||Performance Driven|
|Focus on what is wrong||Focus on Success|
|Develops methods for improving Director||Develops methods for improving library|
|Corrects past problems||Builds future development|
Worst Case Scenario: Dismissing The Director
Many boards feel the only time they need to evaluate the director is when things are going badly. By then it is too late. The director evaluation should be an annual event and the best and easiest time to begin this schedule is when thing are going well.
PART 2 of “Evaluating the State of the Library”: Evaluating Your Board