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New Resources for Managers

While I have been the managing librarian for my youth department for six years now (very small department, mind you), I still practically feel like a newbie. I have gone through some experiences only once or twice so far so when a situation crops up (like unfortunately having to let an employee go), I still don’t always feel as prepared as I should be. Fortunately, ALSC and ALA in general have some great resources to learn about managing children’s services. I am very grateful for those resources. That being said, I like to look outside the box also to learn about management (and frankly, professional development in general). I have one resource I really, really appreciate. One of those resources is the Think Outside the Stacks newsletter by BethReads. This newsletter features great library content without actually being about libraries. The ideas range from craft programs to discussions of literature and everything in…

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Using Data to Tell Your Story

Like 84 other cities across the country, the city of Madison, Wisconsin (and therefore, the Madison Public Library), has been taking part in a project called What Works Cities. It’s a project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies that helps cities become more data-driven so that they can better make decisions about what projects work in their communities. As part of this process, our library has had the opportunity to carefully examine what data we currently capture and what data we need. We have loads of information about how many library card holders we have, how many people come to our programs, how many people use our computers, etc. The big question we kept asking ourselves, though, was, “Is anyone better off because of it?” How do we actually use data to tell our story? A few important lessons we’ve learned so far are: You need to create a data action plan. Chances…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Fostering Strong Communication

As a department manager in a busy Children’s Library, I think a lot about fostering strong communication between members of my team. Working in a group of six librarians who are rarely in the same place and are usually busy helping patrons, running programs, or preparing their next storytime means that we need to be intentional about the ways we share information to keep everyone informed and not he same page. Offering a variety of methods for team members to have input into decision making, share information, and have their voices heard has helped us build a stronger department. Communication Styles Different librarians in our department have very different communication styles, and getting to know everyone’s needs and preferences was the first step in improving our department’s communication. Do your co-workers prefer to get information in person or in writing, or both? Do they respond to emotional appeals, or is…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Summer Reading for Managers

Many of us working with kids and teens spend our reading time catching up on the books we’re excited to recommend to our readers. We encourage our patrons to continue reading and learning all through the summer so they can start the school year ready to grow. What if we did the same for ourselves? What if we carved out a little time over the summer (and all year round!) to educate ourselves on improving management skills? Here are a couple titles to start your reading journey. Please leave your suggestions for great management reading in the comments!   Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg               Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath                 Lean In: Women, Work, and the…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Managing: Keep Staff Connected

Ask any library manager that you know; management in the library is not limited to overseeing the daily functions of front line staff. Great managers will put time into making sure all employees are equipped with the tools and support necessary to both feel professionally fulfilled and to complete their best work consistently. One of my favorite aspects of being a librarian is the sense of camaraderie that I feel when working with and learning from other professionals. Finding opportunities for the children’s library front line staff to network and build connections within the profession can be a challenge. Working around tight schedules and staffing budgets may seem to cause more of a headache for you as a manager than what you think that time is worth, but I believe that you will find that the time invested in providing opportunities to your employees to plug-in to the larger library community…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Building Strong Summer Partnerships

Library outreach allows us to bring services and programs to children outside of library walls and to reach patrons in new settings. Children’s outreach can have an even greater impact in the summer months when school is out and energies can be focused on new learning activities. Summer outreach opportunities can also provide unique possibilities in terms of establishing new partnerships as you work with community organizations to bring summer library programming directly to their audiences. Whether they are summer camp sites, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood recreational centers, and more; there are a variety of community partnerships to forge in the summer to help expand the scope of the library and provide programming for youth. However, these opportunities can also bring about challenges in working with new community partners. Here are a few tips that may help you make the most of establishing new outreach partnerships over the coming months. 1. …

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…

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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…