Professional Development

Support Your Leaders

What do you think about when you hear the phrase “support your leaders”? No matter who your mind finds, that person is likely in a position above yours, right? Maybe a director, supervisor, or even a mentor. But what about the leaders that don’t have positional authority? What about the great people on your staff, or those looking to build up their own leadership skills in your organization? Supporting future leaders, empowering them to strengthen their abilities and take on new challenges is one of the most important things a manager can do. As you think about ways to encourage the leadership skills in your staff, consider the following: Meet with your staff regularly: One-on-one meetings provide an opportunity to get to know each other, talk about your employee’s work, share feedback, ask questions, and mentor. This is a critical part of being a supportive manager and encouraging leadership. Help staff think…


Be Ready to Make Your Case

Whatever kind of library you work in, you’ve probably been called on to make a case for the importance of youth services in libraries – whether it’s to a library director who doesn’t understand why story time is important, a local business owner who is considering making a donation to support summer reading, a principal who is more concerned with test scores than with information literacy, or just a casual acquaintance who hasn’t used a library in years. How do you keep yourself ready to advocate for the importance of serving children in libraries? What tools can prepare you for that unexpected conversation that might lead to a new funding opportunity, a newly supportive manager, or a newly-enthusiastic library user? Evaluation You can probably rattle off the number of families who come to your Toddler Time every week, or the number of classes who visit your school library daily. But…

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Surviving Flu Season as a Supervisor

You’ve finally figured out your schedule to accommodate for that extra class visit, the all-staff meeting, and the webinar two of your staff members want to participate in only to receive the following message from your colleague: “I’m sick and won’t be coming in today.” Ahhhh!! Cue panic and begin freakout! Or don’t. Having staff members call in sick is inevitable and even more likely during these winter months. Here are few ways you can be prepared to confidently handle even the most dire staff shortages. Program Plans: There should be one central location that everyone stores both the plans for their programs AND the materials, so in a pinch someone can grab the outline and supplies quickly. Also, it is great to have some ‘backup’ programs that everyone on staff could easily implement without needing much notice. Maybe it is a guest speaker who called in sick and nobody…

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Managing Child Volunteers in Your Library

Writing on behalf of the Managing Children’s Services Committee today, I am taking this opportunity to start a conversation on what I feel can be an overlooked management duty: overseeing child volunteers. While this task is certainly rewarding and often times extremely entertaining, overseeing what is most likely a young person’s first experience in a service environment can be a challenge to even seasoned managers. If your library does not currently host a child volunteer program, know that finding a balance of tasks that are interesting to the volunteer, beneficial to your library program, and developmentally appropriate can seem overwhelming, but the payoff for both the volunteer and your library’s overall services can be tremendous. In my work in different types of children’s libraries, I’ve managed both children seeking volunteer service hours and children that just want to learn more about the inner workings of their favorite space, and I’ve learned…

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Managers: Not Just for People

Being a manager or supervisor comes with a host of responsibilities, and one I’ve been thinking about lately is managing physical space. Whether it’s ensuring communal work spaces are staying organized, or paying attention to the cleanliness of your shelves and room, managers need to remember that they’re the leaders of the place in addition to the people. This doesn’t mean you should take it upon yourself to clean up a messy staff workroom every Friday, but you should set expectations about levels of organization. For example, does your staff take several weeks to return program materials (markers, crayons, tablecloths) back where they belong? If so, it’s time to ask that items be put away no more than a few days after a program. Do you notice that a bin labeled “glue sticks” or “scissors” seems to have also accumulated yarn or stickers? Make it clear that materials should go…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Why Children’s Librarians Should Run the World (or at least the library)

I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot lately as the Managing Children’s Services Committee has played a role in the ALSC Mentoring Program.  I’m always blown away by the quality of people we have working in the children’s department, and equally surprised that we don’t have even more children’s librarians who are moving up into management positions.