Is Youth Services (Still) the Stepchild of the Library?

It is likely you have heard this phrase, or some variation, expressed in your library, during a conference, or in any number of librarian networking situations. Or maybe you were the one to utter such a phrase?

The real question is, “What can you do to get more support from managers and boards and even patrons?” I don’t have a magic solution (does anyone?), but here are some ideas and resources that might work for you.

  • Create a vision for youth services in your library. Where do you want youth services to be in 5 years? 10 years? 1 year? I’m personally a fan of kicking this off with a brainstorming session where no idea is too big. Use your brainstorming notes and your vision to…
  • Set goals. Don’t discard your lofty, pie in the sky, ideas, but make sure your goals are attainable and measurable. Even though as librarians we know numbers don’t always mean much, board members and government officials tend to love numbers.
  • Empower yourself. Be sure you have answers to any question they can throw at you. Why should they give you money for a Summer Reading Program? Why do you need time for planning storytime? Why does the library need programs for kids at all? Which means…
  • Do your research. Prove that achieving your goals and providing programs for families is important. Having done the research will also prepare you for that fabulous day when someone says “We have x amount of money to spend in x amount of days. What are your ideas?”
  • Get organized and write proposals. Before approaching the budget keepers about new projects, or to continue funding current projects, get all your ducks in a row. You can find proposal templates online, or see if your library has one to use.

Some Resources that might be helpful:

  • ALSC: you’re already reading this blog, but you should also check out Everyday Advocacy
  • ALA: Of course, so much here
  • Storytime Underground: This online community is all about advocating for services to children. Connect with others in your situation and get advice from those who have succeeded.
  • Your State Library: Connect with your state youth librarian, if you have one, or your state librarian. If any research has been done on literacy in your state they should know about it.

If you are feeling underappreciated or unsupported in your library, arm yourself with knowledge and go get ‘em! Do not forget how amazing you are and the effect you can have on children and families in your community. Your hard work WILL pay off.

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Our guest blogger today is Kendra Jones, who wrote this piece as a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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