Lindsey Dorfman | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Community Builders

Lindsey Dorfman spent several years traveling and working in high-end restaurants before earning her MLIS and joining Kent District Library (KDL), Michigan’s second-largest public library. She says working in the hospitality industry, with its focus on providing gracious, professional service, has helped her shape KDL’s service model and address Michigan’s third grade literacy issue.

Lindsey Dorfman

CURRENT POSITION

Director of Branch Services & Operations, Kent District Library, Comstock Park, MI

DEGREE

MLIS, Wayne State University, 2006

FOLLOW

@lindseydorfman

Photo ©2019 Matt Lawrence Photography

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The KDL Way

Lindsey Dorfman spent several years traveling and working in high-end restaurants before earning her MLIS and joining Kent District Library (KDL), Michigan’s second-largest public library. She says working in the hospitality industry, with its focus on providing gracious, professional service, has helped her shape KDL’s service model and address Michigan’s third grade literacy issue.

Ranking 41st in the nation in third grade reading proficiency, Michigan passed the Read by Grade Three Law requiring schools to identify struggling learners. Students more than one grade level behind could be required to repeat third grade as of 2019, potentially impacting up to 50 percent of Michigan’s third graders.

Dorfman leveraged her position at KDL and her connections to help form Partners in Reading Success (PIRS), a task force with the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Kent Intermediate School District (KISD), and the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) to create joint projects encouraging students and parents to use their local library to build reading skills. PIRS worked with early literacy coaches from KISD to train more than 100 GRPL and KDL staff on the new laws and Individual Reading Improvement Plans (IRIP) required for struggling students.

The PIRS training inspired KDL staff to create relevant book lists for early readers and assemble literacy-based booster packs with books, games, and activities for library or home use. They launched a countywide incentive program to develop daily reading habits as well as assistance outreach to local schools. This is the first program in Michigan to comprehensively address the issue.

All of this flows from the “KDL Way,” the culture and service model Dorfman spearheaded.

“At KDL, we believe we can transform lives and further all people through kindness, empathy, and love,” Dorfman says. “These qualities have become the backbone of building authentic relationships and removing barriers to library services.”

The KDL Way’s service goals include helping all people feel welcome, comfortable, and acknowledged; providing trustworthy solutions; ensuring that the entire service journey is positive, productive, and seamless and that every person leaves feeling fulfilled and excited for their next visit; and handling complaints proactively so people feel heard.

To implement the KDL Way, staff receive “KDL Way” Tool Cards with tips and tricks for meeting service goals, and managers hold daily huddles to practice the KDL Way through imaginary and real-life scenarios.

“Lindsey has a tremendous amount of courage, and her work on this project clearly demonstrates that,” says KDL’s executive director Lance Werner (a 2016 Mover and LJ’s 2018 Librarian of the Year). “She took the KDL Way, this fuzzy and nebulous idea, and made it concrete and actionable.”

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Patricia Volkhardt

As a circulation Assistant at KDL of the Walker Michigan branch, it has been my pleasure to work with Lindsey and see her at our meetings as we learn and implement the KDL way as colleagues. Lindsey has always been the epitome of kindness and concern for our patrons best interests. She is a bright light in KDL indeed!

Posted : Mar 12, 2019 02:08


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