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…

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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…