Do you believe your children’s department is isolated from the rest of your system’s library team, or have you found the support you need from other departments and volunteers? Teamwork is as essential to the success of youth services as is a love of children.
Partial cross-training remains critical to the survival of youth services at smaller branches and library systems. At our Hope Mills Branch Library, a community branch of the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center in North Carolina, children’s staffers are supported by other departments. Our children’s staffers lead our programs, but employees in Circulation and Information Services play an instrumental role in serving our youngest library patrons. As space and staff are at a premium, all library employees at our Hope Mills Branch are directly involved with ensuring that children’s programs remain a success.
Behind the Scenes
Page staffers assist with the inventory of our story time collections. Employees organize and create programming materials to be used during our special book-based events. These projects determine our programming effectiveness but are often overlooked by the customers participating in the experience. Volunteers also provide assistance with story time preparation and aid youth services staffers juggling the demands of reference work, collection development and outreach visits.
It’s Show Time
While trained youth services staffers present the actual programs, we seek assistance from other departments in keeping statistics during special events. This support frees our staffers’ time to focus on the quality of the actual presentation and to ensure we get those customers straggling in the Activity Room in our final count.
Extend an Invitation
The most effective way we promote our programming is through our word-of-mouth marketing campaign. Staffers in all departments receive a brief training on various services provided by our library system, and we maintain records on the number of times we promote these programs to our customers. When all staffers market our resources directly to our patrons, they personally invite parents to bring their sons and daughters to our story times. Our attendance has skyrocketed.
These examples of programming assistance demonstrate that a team of dedicated staff is necessary for children’s programming to thrive. This teamwork also positively impacts our other departments. Our youth services librarians and associates staff our general Information Services Desk and provide one-on-one instruction to adult customers through Book-a-Librarian sessions. What ways does your library cross-train staff to maximize the programs available for your children and their families?