Crisis Management [chapter]

Adriene Lim, Martin Garnar
Martin Garnar (MG) : One month into my term as president of the state library association, I found myself on the front page of the Denver Post in a story titled "Library Secure for Kid Porn." As you can imagine, this was not the kind of fame I desired. At the time, I was a 1 tenured faculty member and felt confident that I would survive this crisis, as my library dean made it clear he would defend and support me should there be any blowback (there wasn't). Now, as a library dean myself, I'm the
more » ... one who would be in the hot seat if there's a crisis, whether it's negative press about one of my staff members, a personnel matter that spins out of control, or, like my immediate predecessor as dean, responding to an investigative journalist's "discovery" of library materials being thrown out as part of a weeding project and ending up on the evening news. Adriene, what's been your experience with crisis management? Adriene Lim (AL) : First of all, Martin, I'm very sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, your story reminds me of dozens of incidents affecting library leaders in the past several years. When we choose to become leaders of complex organizations, especially those of us in highly visible, public roles, we expect to take a few hits now and then as we carry out our duties. We have to stand up for our values, do what we believe is the right thing to do, and not be driven by fear of backlash or recrimination from those without the full knowledge of situations in question. This doesn't make the professional and personal pain any less intense, however, when a major crisis happens and a flood of negative publicity, consequences, or reactions begins. For me, the first public crisis I faced in my 20-year career was by all measures an extraordinary one. It occurred just three months after my appointment as dean of libraries at the University of Oregon (UO). At the onset of the crisis, advisers at the university tried to prepare me for the media storm that would follow, warning, "Get ready, this is Chronicle level" (referring to the Chronicle of Higher Education ), but in retrospect, when something like this happens, there is little that advisers can do to prepare you for the shock of media inquiries, anonymous trolling, harassing emails, and so on. The crisis I encountered as a new dean was associated with the decades-long assignment of university-wide records management into the libraries' portfolio. Although I cannot discuss 1 Cardona, F. (2007, November 18). Library secure for kid porn. Denver Post , p. A1. " Chronicle level." But if they do, I wish for them the ability to stay strong, to draw upon the experience and integrity they developed as they advanced in their careers, and to receive the good support and advice of other colleagues in their moments of need. It may not seem like it during a crisis, but the old adage, "this too shall pass" is true. If you make it through the crisis and help your organization thrive, you will not only be a stronger leader, but a more resilient, resourceful one because of it. MG: Adriene, thanks for sharing your story, and your closing statement is an excellent reminder that we can always learn from difficult situations.
doi:10.13016/3r2s-yiai fatcat:wkzkcgriifbe3ilrtj7vjezop4