Case Study – Carnegie 4

The problem with this policy is its presentation. The way it is phrased conveys negativity to both staff and library customers. With the exception of the Board, the public was not invited to contribute to the formulation of this policy. There were no surveys, focus groups, or pilot programs in its formation, nor does there appear to have been any marketing of this policy to the staff, users, or potential customers. This policy’s negative message may result in lack of public support in the future.


The front-line staff is unhappy because they are receiving complaints from the disgruntled public. There is no staff buy-in because they were not included in the decision-making. As a result, they do not understand the reasons for the policy. The staff resents being made into a policing agency. They also suffer from other stressful factors such as lack of training, empowerment, and respect.

Laurie:“What am I – the computer police!! I get no respect!”

Ruby should have responded to Lupe’s concerns in a more positive manner. She took a defensive position by looking at it as a staff attitude problem. Understandably she would have preferred not to have been stopped at the end of the day. However, in the interest of good relations, a few minutes of her time doesn’t seem unreasonable. She need not have issued a challenge. She’s frustrated that this policy has been discussed at length previously, seemingly agreed upon by all concerned. Ruby is making an effort to hear staff concerns by holding monthly staff meetings, which seem ineffectual--mere venting sessions. This frustration may have influenced the negative wording of the policy in the first place.

Nina:“Hostility? – there’s no free floating hostility around here!”

The ball is in Lupe’s court now and she needs to galvanize support with her co-workers, so that they can give testimony about customer complaints at the meeting. Ruby wants to hear very succinctly what the problems for staff and for customers are, and what to do about them. Lupe needs to convince Ruby that rewording the policy would diffuse the customer problem, and she should make some specific suggestions for how to reword the document.

Ana:“The Viburnum Public Library is please to offer you 30 minutes of free and uninterrupted Internet access per day.”

The staff problem should be couched in positive terms: the staff want to learn more and maximize service; they’re not “offended,” and appreciate Ruby’s and the Board’s hard work. (Whether or not they do, they should say they do). They should convince Ruby that they’re excited about new technology in the library, and about showing customers how to use it. More training opportunities would result in a competent, confident staff, enhance service to customers and improve the library’s image as a whole.