Amanda St John


Amanda st john

MLIS 2018
Library 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 managed daily operations, supervised public services staff, participated in strategic planning and execution of the plans, handled advanced customer complaints, monitored the facility and managed safety issues that arose, advised the policy committee, provided reference services, and managed all of the library’s technology needs. I acted as director in my boss’s absence.

When my boss resigned to take a regional position elsewhere in the state, I competed for the director’s position and accepted it in February 2020. Just about 30 days after my promotion, the COVID 19 emergency hit and my first un-programmed act as director was to shut us down. Every day since then was dedicated to recovering operations and learning the administrative role, while motivating staff and trustees or developing the network needed to keep our service quality and support high. I’m happy to talk with you about this experience, or discuss what it’s like to transition from a middle-management role to administration.

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

Sure, it’s an asset to have a well-rounded mix of library-related skills like cataloging and reference work, but the largest chunk of my time is spent on interpersonal communication.

The art of genuine small talk as well as diplomacy are critical when working with staff, taxpayers, city and county representatives. I use conflict resolution skills and bring intentionality to difficult conversations. Authentic networking, knowing when and how to speak to a person in person or how much to say in an email, and how to help another person facing a communication challenge are all at play. What I’m really focused on these days is defining and sharing my vision, telling a story about our library that the community will be proud to share with others, and opening up the Johari Window so that I am known to others and to myself. I’m self-branding and aiming to embrace my inner entrepreneur. #LisaNichols, #KeithFerrazzi, #MindValley. The learning never ends. And neither does the giving, so reach out.

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Send email to: Amanda St John