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Thursday, June 25 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Under Construction: Building a Renovation Support Group

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Many special collections libraries are currently undergoing, preparing for, or have just completed major renovations. Large-scale library renovation projects tend to lay bare the power structure of organizations. While some administrators may be open to input from librarians, staff, and patrons, others may employ a more “top down” approach to project planning. How do library workers and managers navigate the bureaucratic structures of our institutions to contribute our professional input on renovation projects as our collections are moved and our buildings undergo major changes? As daily priorities shift, how do staff manage their work and their own self-care while trying to maintain a high level of service to their communities during times of upheaval?

Discussion will center around:
1) The power dynamics between administrators and librarians with regard to renovation planning and implementation. How have these dynamics helped or hindered your experience with a renovation project? Are there proven methods for communicating the unique needs of a library to administrators or other project partners?

2) Strategies for making visible the invisible labor of keeping a library open while collections are moving out the back door. Who did most of the physical and mental work of your renovation? How and to what extent was that work acknowledged? What are effective ways managers can utilize the skills of their staff without burning them out? What resources can managers request to best assist staff (temporary workers, outside experts, flexible hours, shifts in priorities)?

3) Managing the expectations of the various communities we serve. How do we accommodate the needs of our patrons equitably? When the expectation from administrators is that a certain level of service will be maintained, what are creative ways library staff have made this work during a renovation?

4) Developing a community of continuing support within the profession around the topic of renovation. How can we continue to support our colleagues in the profession outside of the space of this discussion? Is there a possibility for an ongoing virtual support group, where information could be shared for those currently renovating, and saved for those who may go through similar challenges in the future?

This participatory session stems from the Public Services Discussion Group topic at ALA Annual 2019. We had such a spirited conversation that we wanted to give those attending RBMS a chance to also be involved. Many attendees at the ALA Discussion Group session indicated that they were interested in forming a “renovation support group.” This participatory session is a continuation of that conversation with the goal of bringing together librarians at different levels and at different stages in renovation to share experiences, discuss methods of advocacy, offer support and guidance, and hopefully develop productive methods for dealing with the various issues that surface when a library undergoes a renovation.

avatar for Sara Logue

Sara Logue

Head of Public Services, Princeton University


Isabel Planton

Public Services Librarian, Lilly Library, Indiana University

Thursday June 25, 2020 2:00pm - 3:30pm PDT