Library chief to use Harvard course to help manage change

June 05, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Linda Mielke is smart -- she'll be studying at Harvard University next week -- but she's not exactly with it.

The Carroll County Public Library director spends her time reading business magazines and books on economics. She's never seen "The Simpsons" television show.

But she promised that she will watch the show, so she can throw in a few jokes from the animated sitcom at staff meetings. The show is popular among staff members and she doesn't want to be left out.

Ms. Mielke also doesn't want to be left out of the information explosion that is changing the way people use libraries.

"If you can get your information from your living room where your computer is, will you continue to use the library? It's going to be a difficult challenge for us," she said.

To help her cope with what seem inevitable changes, Ms. Mielke will attend a three-week course at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard beginning June 12.

She is one of four officials from Maryland enrolled in the first session. Ten from Maryland plan to attend the second session in July, said Tina Kruczynski, program coordinator.

The course is called the "Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government." It's designed to prepare participants for increased responsibilities, and instruct them in new management ideas and techniques. Harvard faculty members teach the course, Ms. Kruczynski said.

"I feel real lucky to go," said Ms. Mielke, 47, who became Carroll's library director in August.

J. Maurice Travillian, assistant superintendent of library

development and services in the Maryland Department of Education, asked Ms. Mielke to apply. The state will pay her $7,600 tuition, Mr. Travillian said.

Every year for about the past decade, Maryland has sent a couple of library directors or deputy directors to the Harvard course, he said.

Mr. Travillian said he knew Ms. Mielke in two of her previous jobs -- associate administrator of the Anne Arundel County Public Library and community service specialist for the state library system. He said he expects her to benefit from the course.

Ms. Mielke said she hopes to learn more about how to be an effective leader, because the 21st century will bring many changes and because she succeeded "an absolutely wonderful person who built an absolutely wonderful library system."

Former Director Martha M. Makosky retired last June after working in the Carroll library system for 27 years. She also attended the Harvard course.

Ms. Mielke believes public libraries should be egalitarian places that should serve residents of all income levels equally well and encourage diversity.

"I don't just mean colors, I mean people's thinking," she said. "It's a challenge for us every day to accept other points of view. We have to remain open-minded and challenged."

Mr. Travillian said Carroll County's will be the first Maryland library system besides the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore to be connected to the state's online public information network, known as "Sailor."

By this summer, residents will be able to dial a local phone number and connect to Sailor and Internet, an worldwide computer network.

Carroll's library system is to be one of the first connected to the networks because staff members were willing to "be the guinea pigs," Mr. Travillian said.

The Carroll system has about 200 full- and part-time employees and five branches.

Ms. Mielke said she thinks readers won't get all of their intellectual stimulation from a computer.

"I don't think books are going to go away," she said.

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