Urban Libraries Council Recognizes San Mateo County Libraries for Library Innovation


Media Contacts:
Katie Woods, Communications Manager
San Mateo County Libraries
(650) 556-5209

San Mateo, CA – The Urban Libraries Council, opens a new window announced San Mateo County Libraries as one of 10 Top Innovators, opens a new window during the 2018 ULC Annual Forum on September 5-7 in Baltimore, MD. 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.

“Today’s public libraries are bold and pioneering community leaders that play many roles, from educational institutions to technology centers and entrepreneurial hubs,” said Urban Libraries Council President and CEO Susan Benton, opens a new window. “I congratulate San Mateo County Libraries for illustrating a persistent commitment to realizing a groundbreaking initiative that has transformed their community.”

In 2017, San Mateo County Libraries developed and led a County pilot program designed to accelerate employee performance. With the goal of replacing outdated annual performance reviews, San Mateo County Libraries implemented a new, measurable method that allows for open communication and continuous feedback year-round. This new future-focused approach features weekly one-on-one meetings between employee and manager paired with 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.”

This pilot has been successful and data-rich with over 80% of library staff routinely participating in weekly survey participation, 84% of supervisors holding weekly meetings with staff, 92% of staff now feel comfortable asking for check-ins when needed, and 93% of employees feeling valued at work.

By building these positive relationships, San Mateo County Libraries are able to increase employee engagement and achievement. This new approach creates a high-performance culture that stimulates growth and development which is key to improving library services throughout the community.

About San Mateo County Libraries
San Mateo County Libraries is a Joint Powers Authority that comprises the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Woodside, and the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. San Mateo County Libraries ignite growth through transformative experiences. Visit smcl.org for information about our extensive digital and physical collections, twelve community libraries, Bookmobile, Lookmobile and the 12,000+ workshops, classes, concerts, readings, and other activities offered annually.

About Urban Libraries Council
Urban Libraries Council (ULC), founded in 1971, is the voice for public libraries and the force that inspires them to evolve. ULC creates the tools, techniques, and ideas to make ongoing improvements and upgrades in services and technology. ULC also speaks loudly and clearly about the value public libraries bring to communities, and secures funding for research that results in the development of new programs and services. And by serving as a forum for library leadership, ULC produces innovative ideas and best practices that ensure community impact.