The Bee Library 24 book-nests for solitary bees Upper Lake, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Again, thoughts from my studies in management.

“Cross-pollination is an immensely powerful force”

Gunderman, R. B. (2009). Leadership in healthcare London : Springer

Today I was reflecting on the benefits of flying from flowers to flowers. Thanks to my new role I have been given a great opportunity to broaden my experience and my horizons about the library sector. Since I moved from the academic to the healthcare information sector I gained an incredible insight about how people in different sectors work and organise the services. I am still learning and I love looking at what other people are doing and thiking from their points of view.

These perspectives help me to expand my sense of the possible and recognise the full range of resources the library sector has at its disposal to improve the range of services.

I like think about myself like a librarian-bee.

I am also preparing my essay about the qualities of a true leader and inevitably I thought of my poor experience with very bad manager I reported (luckily) for a short period and his enjoyment of isolation. On the top of his poor management ability, such as his failure to see the true range of alternatives to problems, he wanted us (as a team) to sit still in our “shed”. The poor manager was not able to think in the long-term that the more we (as a team) sat still, the further and further we were falling behind. No surprises that in few months some important members of the team left. This time I thank him becaue after this experience I can compare different experiences with managers and outline what does make (for me) a good leader.

Still Buzzing… Buzz Buzz

Maybe in another post I will discuss the theory of The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin.


An unusual meeting about the format of our meetings

This morning I led a meeting about the format of our team meetings. Thanks to my open-minded manager I had the opportunity/freedom to run a session composed by practical exercises in order to let my team reflecting on our current format of our meetings.

I am proud of the way I run it because I used bits of ideas and inspirations from workshops I attended and readings about how to interact with students. I blended them together, shifted the focus on the main purpose of the meeting and hoped for the best.

In this post I am documenting how I have structured it, I’ll discuss the outcomes in next one.

Here is my recipe.

Uses: Getting my team reflecting on how we can improve our meetings.

Materials required: Flipchart, sticky notes in three colours (preferably green, red and yellow), pencils and scrap papers.


  • Brain-warming exercise (3-4 min.): As warm up I asked my team to write their names down, vertically, on scrap papers (Francis, 2009:127-129). They had to create a sentence (even surreal) about the desirable outcomes of the session. I was impressed by the results. I was sorry for colleagues had to use “K” or “Y”, even if one came up with “Yes!” (I liked it!). My personal statement was:
    This brief session is absolutely beneficial for activating synapses that generate ideas, thoughts on the topic, needs and personal opinions.
  • Brainstorming (3 min.): The team had to write on a blank paper whatever was coming in their minds about the topic. In order to facilitate it I offered two general questions to reflect on:
    – What makes a meeting successful and worthwhile for you?
    – What are the problems and barriers that get in the way of effective meetings for you?
  • Stop, start, continue exercise (5 min.): This was the core exercise of the session, I followed Andrew Walsh’s tips (2010:33). I asked my team to identify the most important concepts they wrote on the paper and classify them using the sticky notes as follow.
    – Red = Stop doing (things done badly or inappropriately)
    – Yellow = Continue doing (things that are good)
    – Green = Start doing (things that we want to introduce or ideas)
    They wrote down their concepts/ideas and then stick them on the flip chart.

Cataloguing part (3-4 min.): Good time for a break while my manager and me sorted out and grouped ideas together. Basically our cataloguing job. Look at the result.


I’ll discuss the outcomes in the next post. Just to say that my manager’s manager asked me to run this session also for another team. So exciting!


Francis, P. (2009). Inspiring writing in art and design : taking a line for a write. Oxford, Intellect Books.

Walsh, A., Inala P. (2010). Active learning techniques for librarians : practical examples. Oxford, Chandos.

Supervise: a new journey

Just a couple of weeks ago I accepted to embrace a new challenge. I am responsible for the cataloguing activities of the new collections officer that joined our team a month ago. Briefly, I am now supervising!

In the specific I am asked to teach how to amend the imported cataloguing records for DVDs, according to our cataloguing policy. Despite the task could appear limited it actual requires me a lot of planning in order to deliver it properly. I have to prepare a defined training program that does not contain neither too much information (overload) not poor explanation. Not so easy.

Before moving to the practical part (amending cataloguing records) I have to make sure that the officer understands the cataloguing activity process and the basic principles of AACR2, MARC21 that govern it.

I therefore decided to plan the first session and cover the following topics, in this way:
• Brief overview of MARC21 and AACR2
• Understanding the DVD as a specific item
• Introduction/meaning of specific MARC fields using the Cataloguing module on SirsiDynix
o 1XX/7XX [Author/Added entry]
o 245 [Title]
o 246 [Varian title]
o 260 [Publication info]
o 300 [Physical description]

Desirable outcomes of our first session:

• Awareness of the 1XX/7XX, 245, 246, 260 and 300 marc fields
• Amending imported record [practical exercise]

After the session I monitored her cataloguing work and I have to admit that I was impressed by the result. I felt extremely exhausted, teaching how to catalogue it’s really demanding. It is not only about teaching how to follow specific rules but above all developing the so called cataloguer’s judgment by understand the author’s intention and when a rule should not be followed. It definitely requires patience and hard work, but I am confident that I will transfer this skill naturally with time.

At the end, the officer was satisfied by my explanation of the whole process and I am actively motivating her to be curious and I welcome her bombarding with questions. The next session is planned the next week. Wish me luck!

Effective meetings

General Grant’s Council of War, Massaponax Church, Virginia by Timothy H. O’Sullivan © MoMA

What do you think is necessary to make effective meetings? This morning I attended to a workshop about this topic and I am sharing just few notes about it. There are a number of factors that determine the actual efficacy. One of the secret is the length: a meeting should be long enough to cover specific topics but short enough to be interesting and participative. Another one is setting a clear purpose.

A meeting journey is composed by three phases: pre-meeting/preparation –> actual meeting –> follow-up/actions.

There are three main roles: the chairperson, the minute taker and participants. Obviously the main character in meetings is played by the chairperson who has to engage participants, setting the tone and keep the meeting on track.

The minute taker plays an important role because he is forced to be an active listener and has to use specific skills such as accuracy, objectivity and the ability of selecting what it is relevant.

Finally the participants. They should be active and engaged with discussions and updates. Their suggestions and feedback should be valuable, open and constructive.

It’s quite easy to remark factors that led to a bad meeting. This is my (negative) top 5. On the other hands, this could be my positive top five if you turn the points upside down.

5) Meetings with a weak agenda. Often repetitive and dull.

4) Chairperson/colleague who does not allow others to speak, also classified as “the talker” or “know all” or “I judge you”.

3) Weak chairperson without any prior preparation. Usually this category of people is not able to control meetings and the length of the time.

2) I am personally annoyed when I spot a colleague checking his ipad/laptop for news or emails. If you are attending at a meeting at least pretend to be interested and leave your ipad/laptop in the office, unless it’s essential to your role.

1) No actions taken. Ok so what’s the point of a meeting? It’s a waste of time for everyone.