So, my next project is going to be an article on "burn out". I have been experiencing some of the "symptoms" and recognize the symptoms with a couple of my district librarians.
It concerns me that directors at rural and small libraries have 3-4 page job descriptions, a pittance of a "salary", very little help as well as very little "moral support". In order to succeed and not "burn out" they have to create their own "satisfaction"-- it doesn't come to them in the form of monetary rewards, "thank-you's" or even in the form of a "bonus".
A good board is their library director's biggest cheerleader. A good board recognizes the hard work and dedication of their sole employee and rewards them.
The top three roles of a good library board are:
1. provide adequate funding for the library
2. hire a great director
3. advocate for the library
How is your board doing? 1 out of 3; 0 out of 3?
14 years ago when I accepted the position of district consultant librarian, I observed that the biggest obstacle for a library is the library's board. Not money or the lack thereof, but the board!
With a great library board at the helm...money is never an issue. The money comes!
14 years later as I look back, I am still declaring that the number one obstacle for a public library is the library board.
We have been providing "formal" board training every year (multiple times per year) since 2006.
At some of the libraries, where the board has participated and made a point to "be better": this training has made all the difference.
We can provide all of the tools necessary for a board to succeed. They have to make the decision to "be better". We can't force them! Any more than we can "force" them to treat their director as a professional, with the respect and compenstation they deserve.
If you are a great board or a great board member, and you really care about the mental health of your director, find a way to adequately reward them! Treat them as a "professional"--they are running the day-to-day operations of a not-for-profit corporation. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Not one "professional" accountant or attorney or teacher serving on a library board would have tolerated being treated the way their library director is treated.