sacred cows

Heather from TLT may have started a revolution.

Marge (whom I assume you all know because she’s a youth services guru) recently put a call out on the Storytime Underground Facebook page (which I assume you all know about because it’s a goldmine of awesome as is the website) wondering if we need a revolution to change the SRP/SLP/SRC paradigm. She’s put together a Pinterest board of smart posts by smart people who have already ditched the multiple charts and the counting minutes and the *cough* landfill prizes and instead are focusing on repeat visits to the library or books as prizes.

SRP/SLP/SRC (we do love our acronyms, don’t we) can be the biggest most expensive most overwhelming soul sucking sacred cow.


But it’s far from the only one. From storytime handouts and crafts to how we handle reference interviews to how we conduct our meetings, sacred cows are all around us.

Sacred cows: those things we have done forever and ever the same way and could never ever possibly consider doing differently because we’ve done the things forever and ever the same way.

Step 1: Identify the sacred cow. Some people prefer to ignore them. Some people like to complain about them. Some people defend them with their lives as they can’t imagine life without them. Every single program we provide should be put through a sacred cow test. What is the value of this program? Is it eating up resources? Is the outcome worth the cost? A sacred cow could look wildly successful (SRP, anyone?), but may be too costly or lacking real value for our patrons.

Step 2: Get over the fear.  Convincing hesitant staff and administration is definitely one challenge. Overcoming fear? Fear of outcry from the community, fear of change, fear of failure…Fear is probably the biggest thing standing in our way. And yet any institution or person who makes decisions (and ignoring those sacred cows? That’s a decision!) based on fear will not succeed.

So, what do you do? How do you slay those sacred cows you’ve identified?

Consult your library’s mission statement. If you’re a manager, create a strategic plan with the help of your team for your department. If you’re flying solo, work with your director to create a strategic plan or professional goals for yourself. These steps can help you justify why you want to kill a sacred cow. Use your PLN and if you don’t have one, get one. The greatest aspect of this profession I have found thus far is the willingness of others to share their successes. Find library professionals in similarly sized communities and demographics and ask what they’re doing. Work together to find solutions. Finally, present alternative programs and procedures to replace your soon-to-be-dead cow.

But how do you make sure it’s not just another sacred cow?

We need to apply the same questions we use to identify our old sacred cows to our new programs. Why are we continuing to create active programs when passive programs reach more kids and involve less staff time? How can we make our outreach visits more dynamic and less time consuming to plan? What about those storytime handouts that take so much time to create? Is there a better way?

It’s always open season on sacred cows, y’all. Happy hunting.


2 thoughts on “sacred cows

  1. Pingback: We'll Link to That: Fall 2014 - Jbrary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s