Leading change at the Cedar Rapids Public Library

Leading change at the Cedar Rapids Public Library

When Bob Pasicznyuk first toured the shell of the former Cedar Rapids Public Library, flashlight in hand, he saw a problem. “It occurred to me that we were going to build the new building along the same narrative, only 10 percent bigger,” Pasicznyuk said. Since Pasicznyuk came to Cedar Rapids in 2009, the library has been wrestling with how to remake itself as a community hub in the age of iPads and ebooks. (For more on the library in the digital age, read this earlier Gazette story by Rick Smith: New library plans for an ever-changing digital world.) Pasicznyuk discussed the experience of leading change Tuesday at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, elaborating on the risks the organization faced in reconsidering their purpose and processes. “The library actually worked before the flood. It was one of the most visited places downtown. You want to mess with that?” he said. A big part of the ongoing change has to do with how the library measures success. Traditional metrics include number of items circulated, number of items in the collection or number of people who attend events. “That’s supposedly how good or not good we are,” he said. “A lot of it is about transactions – the word ‘experience’ doesn’t enter the picture a lot of time.” By focusing on experience – Pasicznyuk has said he hopes the library can be more like an Apple store than the DMV – the CRPL has attracted 20,000 people to attend meetings in the space, and is on track for a record circulation year. “I think those [metrics] will take care of themselves if you’re…