In the last 5 months I’ve worked with over 120 library staff on using practical project management skills in their everyday work. What I’ve noticed is that some staff have initially struggled to find a connection between what they do, and projects.
There is a perception that all projects are big, unwieldy, reluctant beasts that seem to grow and change uncontrollably overnight! So I thought it might be valuable to present projects in a different light.
Here’s a quick list of 21 everyday library activities that you may not have recognised as projects.
- dealing with a difficult customer
- having a team meeting
- reviewing a book
- answering a reference query
- teaching an information literacy class
- writing a report
- preparing a presentation
- organising a hui
- running a wriggle and rhyme or storytime session
- writing a blog post
- creating a reading list for a new paper or course
- training someone else
- undertaking research
- developing performance objectives
- evaluating ebooks for possible purchase
- evaluating usage of an existing database
- negotiating with suppliers
- preparing a business case
- evaluating the effectiveness of an existing service
- creating a survey
- running a holiday programme
What makes these activities projects? All of the above activities exhibit the following four characteristics of a project:
1. Projects are unique: All projects provide a specific response to a need (problem or opportunity) in a specific context. Each storytime theme whether it’s dragons, under the sea, or Easter is unique – the books, audience and your performance differ each time.
2. Projects are an adventure: Every project is different and always involves some uncertainty and risk. Dealing with a difficult customer certainly fits into this criteria!
3. Projects have a purpose: Ideally, projects have clearly-defined aims and set out to produce clearly-defined results. In libraries we may not always articulate the aims and results expected from a team meeting, book review, or preparing a presentation, but they are there.
4. Projects are limited in time and space: Projects have a beginning and an end, and are implemented in a specific place and context. Teaching an information literacy class, evaluating the effectiveness of an existing service, and answering a reference query all have a beginning and end.
So, the next time you are on the reference desk, organising a hui, or writing a blog post, remind yourself that you’re undertaking a project and embarking on a journey of adventure where you have the power to defeat any big, unwieldy beasts that block your way!