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MCLS Executive Director Randy Dykhuis shares insights from regional meetings

A little more than two years ago, MCLS undertook a concerted effort to connect more effectively and engage more deeply with its members. We have held many conversations with members both in groups and individually, some in formal settings, others more informally. Our intent was to listen to our members and learn about the things that would make a big difference for them. One consistent theme that emerged very early was to have all of the statewide associations and library service organizations working together. I am pleased to say that we have taken steps toward honoring that request.

This summer we took to the road for almost two weeks for a series of two-hour regional meetings around Michigan. (It’s a really big state!) We started in Marquette on the shore of Lake Superior and eventually worked our way south to Marshall, about 35 miles north of the Indiana state line.

This fall we did something similar in Indiana when we took to the road for a week-long tour. Starting in Fort Wayne and traveling clockwise around the state, we went from there to Plainfield, Seymour, Evansville, and Merrillville.

The format was the same for each of the meetings: MCLS staff members presented for the first 30 minutes, then turned the floor over to representatives from the state library in whichever state the meeting was. This was definitely very cool. For the first time in a very long time, attendees at the meetings got to hear the latest from MCLS about our programs and services and then they got the same kind of information from the state library. In Indiana, there was even a bonus with presentations from the Indiana Library Federation at several of the meetings.

After the information sessions, we gave attendees an opportunity to talk to us and share their thoughts about some of the topics that had arisen at other conversations. An example of the synergy that comes from these kinds of meetings happened in Evansville when a director from a small public library commented that she often feels isolated and doesn’t know where to go for advice. She said it would be great to have a place for small libraries to share comments and support each other. Steve Schmidt, Library Development Office Supervisor at the Indiana State Library, was in the room and immediately promised to have a mailing list established and ready to go by the following Monday. And it was. That’s the sort of positive result that comes from open communication and collaboration among all of us.

I look forward to more opportunities like this and to keeping the spirit of collaboration and sharing alive and well through all of the MCLS region.

The presentation slides used at the regional meetings are now available on the MCLS website.

Indiana presentation

Michigan presentation