Amanda St John


Amanda St John

MLIS 2018
Assistant Director
Grand Marais Public Library
Grand Marais, MN USA

What I am doing now.

In 2016, I became the library’s first assistant director. I manage daily operations, supervise public services staff, participate in strategic planning and execution of the plans, handle advanced customer complaints, monitor the facility and manage safety issues that arise, advise the policy committee, provide reference services, and manage all of the library’s technology needs. I act as director in my boss’s absence.

What are the most valuable skills I use in my job?

INFO 204: Information Professions addresses managerial issues such as managing a budget, technology programs, and building failures. I still refer to the Evans & Alire Management Basics text for fresh ideas and reminders about how to work through complex situations that arise. In a rural public library environment, I do not have resources to spare deploying undesirable, useless (to the patrons) technology programs. The HyperLinked Library: Emerging Trends, Emerging Tech stresses how understanding the human heart can lean to meaningful selection and application of technology.

While it’s wonderful to have an assortment of library-related skills developed, like cataloging and reference work, the largest chunk of my work is interpersonal communication. This includes knowing when to speak to a person in person, and when to send an email; how much to say in an email and how to help another person with the same challenge. ALA’s Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) (which is planning to merge with other divisions) has been incredibly helpful building my conflict resolution skills, and in teaching how to have effective difficult conversations. Leadership skills are needed to help change disruptive work culture. While I do not have to have the answers, I need to be consistent in my supervisory style and expectations of my staff. This requires self-awareness, cultivation over time, and a strong support/peer/mentor network. These are surprisingly critical skills.

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