San Mateo County Libraries Recognized for Library Innovation


The Urban Libraries Council announced San Mateo County Libraries as one of 10 Top Innovators during the 2018 ULC Annual Forum earlier this month. The ULC Innovations initiative spotlights libraries that use inventive approaches to further their mission and purpose. A panel of expert judges selected San Mateo County Libraries from 220 submissions in 10 categories that demonstrate the value and impact of public library service. San Mateo County Libraries won in the category of Organizational Change and Strategic Management.

In 2017, we developed and led a Countywide pilot program that sought to build a high-performance culture in our workforce. With the goal of replacing outdated annual performance reviews, we implemented a new measurable method that allows for open communication and continuous feedback year-round. Our new approach to accelerating employee performance centered around weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and managers and continuous data gathering through short, weekly surveys.

“Results have been very positive in our first year-- the new system has been enthusiastically received, creating a foundational shift in our organization by building positive relationships that translate into increased employee performance,” said Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services. “It is incredibly rewarding to see our staff embrace this change as we continue to strengthen these conversations and drive employee engagement.”

The program has been successful and data-rich with 80% of library staff routinely participating in weekly surveys, 84% of supervisors holding weekly meetings with staff, and 93% of employees feeling valued at work.

By building these positive relationships, San Mateo County Libraries are able to pave the way for increased employee achievement and success. Our future-focused performance management system has produced remarkable gains by building upon our communications, expectations and staff support which is key to improving library services throughout the community.

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