Like many organizations, the Des Moines Public Library is policy-driven. With six buildings, a staff of 100+ serving 4500 library users each day it works better that way. The policies are clear to the employees and the library users and if there is a conflict, the staff can refer to the policy for guidance.
The management staff has to judge when policies should be broken. Most of the time, it’s best to stick to policy; sometimes the line is fuzzy and the decision is a difficult one, other times it is a no-brainer. Then, sometimes, a situation occurs that makes you decide to change the policy.
This afternoon I had the privilege of attending the 100th birthday party of Lois Bright held in the meeting room of the East Side Library. Lois and her deceased husband Dale have contributed generously to the library and countless other local organizations through the Dale and Lois Bright Foundation. The Meeting Room at the East Side Library bears their names to recognize the substantial donation they made to the renovation of that branch library.
Normally, the meeting room would not be available to an invitation-only party during hours the library is closed. When the request to hold the party there was first made, we had to think about it – for about 30 seconds. What kind of precedent would this set? Would everyone want to hold birthday parties at the library when it wasn’t open? If we said yes to this, how would we say no to the next request?
In the end, it was a no-brainer and we changed the policy. Every major donor who turns 100 may hold a birthday party in a library meeting room. No questions asked. The branch manager and acting director will be there to help set up the room and arrange the designer cupcakes and enjoy every minute of it.
Happy 100th Birthday, Mrs. Bright, and many more!