As librarians, we often participate in or lead initiatives, but not all of these endeavors succeed. The post mortem -- a systematic method for discovering, documenting, & disseminating an actionable summary of a project’s successes & missteps -- offers librarians a valuable tool for reframing failure as an opportunity to support future successes.
Type of Library
Community College Library; College Library; Special Library; University Library
Failure, Assessment, Post-mortem
Reframing Failure: Post Mortems for Library Projects
As librarians, we often take part in or lead projects and initiatives, but not all of these endeavors succeed; we sometimes experience failure. Whether a solo research effort or a collaborative attempt to improve information literacy skills, not every endeavor may go as planned. Yet, how often do we take a step back and investigate how, what, when, where, and with whom a critical breakdown occurred? The post mortem -- a systematic method for discovering, documenting, and disseminating an actionable summary of the ups and downs of a project’s execution -- offers librarians a valuable tool for reframing failure as an opportunity for ensuring future successes. Built upon the premise that similar projects face similar pitfalls, post mortems yield lessons learned that can be used by team members to prevent and/or plan for the mitigation of obstacles within and beyond their control. Although the project post mortem has its roots in the field of software development, many of the processes and principles upon which the post mortem is built can be applied and scaled for library projects of all sizes. By participating in this presentation, attendees will gain an understanding of the purpose and value of post mortem analyses for library projects; identify steps associated with planning for, conducting, and communicating the results of a post mortem analysis; consider how to scale post mortems for individual and team-based projects; and be able to develop a post mortem analysis plan for a past or current project upon returning to their home libraries.