On a + note

What makes ALS so great? #40: 2010

Posted in on a + note by kendal0 on November 22, 2010

As I head to a new job next week, it feels appropriate to reflect on what has made the Alliance Library System, a small multi-type library system in central Illinois, so great? Part of their legacy has been to build and strengthen library cooperation in central Illinois. For example, the annual ALS awards honored the best of the best. The ALS team of consultants made small rural Illinois libraries viable, efficient, and able to survive in a very competitive and financially-strapped world. Their website and marketing efforts were award-winning and tied together the whole community. Also, the ALS Department of Innovation lead the nation with amazing projects that were shining examples to what vision, collaboration, and teamwork can accomplish. However, beyond those examples are a few unique characteristics that have powered the Alliance from a middle-of-the-pack library consortium to a national leader. Specifically, the ALS Board of Directors, the ALS staff, and the 250 member libraries:

  • Are willing to take risks, be criticized, and hear “no” as they explore new and innovative ways to enhance library service.
  • Understand the power of teamwork. From writing grants, to cleaning up after a workshop, they rely on each other like no other organization I have ever seen. Teamwork has made ALS great.
  • Are all curious, from the janitor to the Board President. As an organization of lifelong learners, they are trends spotters and internet surfers. They constantly ask each other questions like “Would avatars use a library?” and “What is the next cool app libraries could use?” They are all inquisitive.
  • Are single-mindedly passionate about excellence.
  • Consider themselves a family. They care about each other professionally and personally, and it shows in excellent customer service and, ultimately, national recognition for their efforts.

There you have it: the secret to their success. They are risk takers, team players, and inquisitive, but, most of all, they are family! I was truly honored to be a part of their world.

Kitty Pope
kpope @ alliancelibrarysystem.com #41 November/10

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