Sharing Messages with Staff

My husband is retired military and some habits have transferred over to our civilian lives. In the military, before a shift was over, my husband's department completed a “Pass Down Log.”

The point of this book was to communicate to anyone coming on watch any major events or changes that occurred during the previous watch. When I started at the library, I asked the staff if they had such a book to share information from one shift to another.  They said no, and we soon learned that many times important news wasn’t being communicated to all employees, post-it notes were gone before everyone read them, or worse, it became an elementary school game of “operator” and messages would change based on how each person understood the message.

So, for clarity’s sake with our internal communications, we implemented our own version of the Pass Down Log—the “Comm Log.”  It began as a simple notebook where staff would write various communications that needed to reach all employees. Staff would initial it and were required to check it daily.  Then I went to the Association of Rural and Small Libraries conference and saw a library using Google Documents (Now Google Drive) for all sorts of things, including a staff communication board.  Utilizing the same format, our library began our own online “Comm Log” in Drive. We use a spreadsheet and set up a column for each of the following: date, message, and one for each employee using their initials.  Each employee chose a color and as they read each message they are required to fill the box with their color to show they have read the message. Check out recent updates on our Comm Log, above.

This set up has yielded multiple benefits. Staff can easily see if there is a new message because there is white space in their column. They also remind each other when they see someone has not read their messages, and my personal favorite is that it is accessible at any time. Because it is in the Drive, I can access the Comm Log late at night when I am not in the office, but remembered something I needed to share. Let’s face it we have all been known to think about our jobs outside of the typical 9-5 hours!  And finally, we have some staff who don’t work with other staff during the week. The log gives them an opportunity to communicate with each other and stay connected rather than feeling left on an island.

This has worked great for keeping communication flowing at our library. Because it is a shared document it is easily viewed by all and eliminates any errors in messaging because everyone receives the same message. Additionally, staff likes the idea of sharing documents so much that we have further designed spreadsheets for our shopping lists, summer reading ideas, and any other time we need to share thoughts among people who don’t always work together.  In the above photo, Jaysheen Alvey is checking out the Comm Log at the library. We encourage you to give your own Comm Log a try!

Julie Elmore, M.S.L.S.

Library Director

Oakland City-Columbia Twp. Public Library

Oakland City, IN



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