Culture Change at the Library of Virginia

Library of Virginia

We started our work with the Library of Virginia last fall by listening deeply. We believe that when you let a community talk – about their passions, their dreams, their frustrations, their concerns – good facilitators can help the group identify what matters most.

We got an earful of passion from the 140 or so employees of one of the Commonwealth's oldest agencies. They care about their work as librarians and archivists, about our shared history, about technology and change, and about each other. They cared enough to be very candid with our team about how they wanted the Library to change and transform – and then rolled their sleeves up for the second half of our engagement.

That’s when Floricane’s Debra Saneda worked with four project teams to reshape the Library’s Vision and Mission, and to identify key strategies to strengthen access, maximize the Library’s Broad Street location, and to develop a new generation of expert employees. More than 40 employees participated in the teams, and delivered several dozen recommendations to the Library’s leadership in March.

We recently closed this chapter of work with the Library team with a series of employee sessions that looked back at our work together, and looked ahead to the changes to come.

What started as an effort to bolster engagement and map out a few new strategies for the agency has turned into a full-fledged culture change initiative. There is nothing about the Library’s new Vision that feels musty and old.

“The Library of Virginia will inspire learning, ignite imagination, create possibilities, encourage understanding, and engage Virginia’s past to empower its future.”

If anything, the new Vision is a call for transformation – and many of the staff seem ready to run toward a different future.

We promised to come back in six months and see how much progress the Library employees make on their culture change. The rule of thumb is that it takes five to seven years to transform an organizational culture; the Library hopes to take a big leap forward this summer.

I can’t wait to see their progress in November.