development at the kansas city public library

October 27, 2015

Kristin Nelson, Director of Development for the Kansas City Public Library, discusses how to blend in seamlessly when you’re new to a development team—and an organization … and a city! Hear what’s new at the Library and get some excellent ideas for making the most of being the newest team member.

The Kansas City Public Library is a doorway to knowledge for all people in our community …

The Kansas City Public Library system consists of a central library, nine branches, and an outreach services program serving a constituency of over 250,000 in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to providing library services to residents, the Library also serves as a resource for the 1.7 million metropolitan residents of greater Kansas City.

GEMS FROM kristin

New blood brings new energy and hope into an organization. We’re at that point right now at the library—so many good new people coming in and when you add those to the good people who have been there forever, it’s fantastic. Libraries can be very traditional, very set in their ways—so I think it’s good to switch it up sometimes, inject some new life.

The #1 thing I love about Kansas City versus New York is that you have access. As a fundraiser in particular, that’s so important.


Go easy on yourself. When you’re new at an organization, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. It takes time to acclimate and feel confident talking about your new position, so breathe, take a step back, and realize that you can’t magically know everything and prove your worth on the first day on the job.

If you see something, say something. As a newbie, you’re in the best position to bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. Respect the traditions at your organization, but if you see something that isn’t working or is causing more harm than good, a small red flag from you may be all that’s needed to change something big.

Communicate. More than you think you have to. It can be hard to cc the world on every email, but make it a point to update key players as you’d like to be updated. Your communicative behavior could positively influence an organization or colleagues with less-than-stellar communication skills.

Be gracious. Receive an email that makes you frustrated? Don’t react immediately with an emotion-filled email. Take the time needed to reply graciously and elegantly. Always kill ‘em with kindness.

Pay attention. I hope that colleagues everywhere try to pay attention to each other’s actions, but this can be especially important for a newbie. Learning the ins and outs of how an organization operates can take a lot of time, but you can intuit a lot very quickly from just paying attention to the little details and behaviors you see around you.