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This summer is B-A-N-A-N-A-S–how can you help as a manager?

Summer reading has arrived. By now, many public librarians are hard at work implementing all the fun programs that have been in the works for months now. Performers, STEAM, movies, story-walks, storytimes, free lunches, and so much more. Staff in the youth department is hopping. As a manager, there are some inexpensive ways to help everyone keep cool, calm, and as stress free as possible. There is not a lot of downtime at the library during summer but before the hectic work day begins, take a minute to leave notes of encouragement and praise to staff. Everyone appreciates being recognized for their hard work and it will help staff push through the really tough days knowing management recognizes their commitment to summer reading. Keep a white board up in a staff area and encourage staff to share positive moments they have helped facilitate during summer, i.e. a book suggestion was…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Health Programs in the Children’s Department

Does your library put health and wellness as a priority in public programming? With the evolving role of libraries in our communities, the aspect of connecting patrons to quality health information as a goal to help them lead healthier lives is becoming more prominent in the public libraries. Frequently, conversations of health programming is confined within adult services departments or those specifically serving seniors; however, health programs are just as important in the children’s department. I recently began a job at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine where I work with public libraries on building capacity of providing health programs, information, and services around the All of Us Research Program including topics of genetics, environment, and lifestyle. In this role I’ve become more aware of the health-focused programs and services already in place and the vast possibilities of providing these topics in a public library setting. It is important…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Supporting Children’s Services through Career Transitions

Recently, I re-read the ALSC Blog post, Why Children’s Librarians Should Run the World (or at least the library), which asked why more children’s librarians weren’t moving into management positions. One explanation was that they prefer not to give up the job satisfaction received by working directly with children. I’ve certainly heard that reluctance from children’s librarians who would make excellent supervisors. If you are on the fence about testing out a leadership role, know that you can shape your job to still feel linked to your original mission. I know firsthand – I was a children’s librarian for nearly seven years before deciding to explore supervision. I’ve now served as an assistant managing librarian, the children’s services coordinator, the youth services manager and a managing librarian. In that time, I’ve learned that you can support children’s services in a meaningful way even as job titles and responsibilities change. Give…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Poetry and more

This year marks the 29th year of my library system’s annual poetry contest for kids. I love that this writing tradition has continued for so long and that kids and teachers still enjoy it. Below are a few other writing program ideas I’ve seen or read about going on in libraries.  I’ve added some book suggestions from the experts when applicable. I think the library is a great place for kids to experience writing for fun and hope one of these suggestions gets you excited to try something new. Start a writing club for kids. Use Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos as a group read and journal starter. It is pure fun. If you are part of the CSLP, which has the Libraries Rock theme, coloring journals in the catalog are only $1.25 – a cost effective way to promote…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

A Manager’s Role in Staff Self-Care

Compassion fatigue  has been a term that has been mentioned a lot recently. Compassion fatigue is “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events”(1). Put more simply, it can be emotionally and mentally draining to perform work, like librarianship, that requires the constant care of others in difficult situations. While helping people is a major motivating factor that I hear from library staff about why they got into the profession and why they love it so much (including myself) the experience of compassion fatigue can quickly lead to personal burnout and health problems. A good way to combat this is to engage in self-care techniques and by practicing a healthy work-life balance. However, being able to strike that emotional balance of being immersed and devoted to our work and taking time to relax and center ourselves can be tricky. In…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time for many to experience the yearly tradition of: END OF THE YEAR PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS!  Staff evaluations are a time honored tradition that cause the masses to collectively share a sense of dread and anxiety. (Just kidding…I think?) During my first stint as a library manager, I actually looked forward to the full process of evaluations with my staff. We were a tight team; working well together and openly discussing any problems or roadblocks as they arose. Even though it was my first experience managing other employees, I felt both comfortable and confident going to employees with any issues and working on solutions together. I advised my team that the information shared during the evaluations was not an attack, but rather a tool that we would refer to together to grow as individuals and a team to provide the best possible service…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Treat Yo Self

November and December can get stressful with holidays, staff vacations, winter weather, annual wrap-ups, and the end of the year ahead. While many of us have a tendency to simply push through, taking time to introspect on ways you can relieve stress and be a happier, more positive coworker and public service provider is an important part of serving your staff and community. Listen to Parks and Rec staff Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, and treat yo self. We’ve all heard tips related to self-care: don’t check work email at home, take your lunch breaks, get up and move around every hour. These are all important (and you should follow them!) but there are lots of other, more in-depth resources to help you manage stress and be your best self. Take a look at a couple here: Self-Care Starter Kit from the School of Social Work at the University of…

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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…