Since I'm new to Lean and working at an institution with a recent interest in promoting Lean principles, I found this book quite helpful. The author does a great job of explaining Lean and providing many examples. While most of the examples are from public libraries, he does have a few examples or ideas for academic libraries as well.
I'm glad I read (and finished) this book for two reasons. One because I give myself a pat on the back for getting past the implication at the end of Strategy One that I shouldn't read on unless I agree that libraries can only be viable if they are run along aggressive, corporate business models - I don't agree, strongly.
And two because now I know why I and my recently departed (and much missed) manager looked at each other after a recent "Lean Libraries" webinar and high fived - basically because 95% of the innovations suggested in that webinar and in this book are already in place in my department.
That's not Huber's fault, and to be fair I think his broader strategies are aimed at a far larger single entity library system than the one I work in - possibly like the Chicago Public Library or something of a similar nature, but still I felt good after reading this.
The low score really reflects my disappointment both in this title and the webinar that recommended it as a must-read. They both promised so much and failed to deliver quite what I had expected. For example the webinar drew us in with the promise of helping us to "get rid of sorting carts entirely" - sorting carts then remained unmentioned for the whole hour. Once again not Huber's fault at all but I did feel a similar lack of tangible detail in this book at the end.
High price for a book marketing common sense. As another reviewer states, this is NOT a how-to guide. It may give you some ideas, but if I've learned anything in my decade of library work, it is that we all do it differently. You're going to have to get out there with your own eyes in your own place of work and look for how to do things more efficiently. Then you're going to have to do the hard work of convincing your staff why it would be better to move the boxes closer to the shelving rather than walk back and forth 50 times. It isn't easy, but it can be done, and you don't need this book to do it.
Huber has some great ideas about how to apply Lean to libraries. One of the things I like best about this book is that he talked about Tulsa City County Library system quite often. Being from Tulsa, it just so happens that the downtown Tulsa Central Library is one of my favorite libraries. Huber is also an OSU alum like me, and he also used the OSU library in some examples, as well. That was another library in which I spent many hours... Oh, and TCC (Tulsa Community College) was even mentioned, as well as the Oklahoma based convenience store chain, Quik Trip (thank goodness we have more of those in DFW now!).
One of my favorite quotes from the book came really early on (page 19). Huber says, "To create a culture that seeks change and a desire to improve you must tap into what makes your library staff want to go to work each morning beyond simple reward and punishment." That really spoke to me because I think one of the greatest motivations for staff is to want to be at work so that they can be a part of something meaningful.
Other noteworthy quotes from the book:
"If your organization has a purpose, and it has a desire to reach its full potential, change is no longer a choice; it is a necessity."
"Do you ever get frustrated with the historical and ongoing debate between politicians regarding the trickle-down versus bottom-up stimulus debate? I do. I get frustrated because I know that it is not an either/or choice. The answer is obvious: it takes some of both. Why choose one over the other?"
"Change requires 3 components: a purpose, a desire to improve, and a desire to get feedback."
"I believe a person's job is more fulfilling if he or she is able to perform various tasks rather than just one repeated task."
I really liked the idea of using smaller carts and/or just using the top two rows of carts to improve shelving efficiency. That, and smaller and more frequent batches in all areas, are two of the greatest concepts I learned from Lean Library Management. Highly recommended for anyone who works at a library or is in library school.
I am a big fan of Lean principles. And of libraries . . . because I'm a librarian. I was really excited to read this book, because I think my library would GREATLY benefit from applying Lean to our workflow, we are in a stage of transition and this would be the PERFECT time to get started. Alas, I was a bit disappointed by the work. Huber is obviously very knowledgeable about Lean and about libraries. But as a consultant for implementing Lean in the library world I though maybe this book had conflicting interests. If librarians could read this book and apply Lean principles themselves, it might put Huber out of business. Therefore I can understand why he wasn't very clear on the step by step process of a Lean project- but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Having undergone a very basic Lean course (and project) at my former place of employment I am very aware of how much work can go into something like this. Even a small change (let alone reorganizing a whole department) can take weeks (or months) of planning and evaluation. Huber does a rapid fire brief overview of Lean principles and how they can improve library services. He also describes two or three projects that he has consulted on in the library world, but these descriptions only serve to give readers ideas of what areas in their work environment might improve from a Lean touch. This is not a how-to guide, use it more to wet your appetite before diving into any additional Lean research.
This book was a deju vu of the years I served in HR for the industrial arena that made parts for Nissan, Toyota, and and other vehicle manufacturers. Many of the Lean principles which this book applies to libraries were familiar (i.e. 5S, Six Sigma, TQM etc), so it was a learning experience to see how Toyota's original ideas could apply in a library. The case studies and diagrams are easy to follow, and reading this was a good prep for a Lean Principles class I will be taking in July at my campus. Strategy Nine is particularly relevant to the academic library world, as it discusses digital research tools and how to recognize difference between a library's performance and customer research requirements.
There was a lot of good information about applying Lean techniques in libraries, however, it is feeling a bit dated. I would love to know what is relevant now compared to 10 years ago. It was also a pretty narrow focus on public libraries. I really liked the appendix the most for exploring a wide variety of approaches that can then be applied across settings. This book also works well in tandem with The Lean Startup as a guide for thinking about quick wins and process implementation.