Blogger Abby Johnson

New Year, New Employee

We have a new library assistant starting this week and new staff training is on my mind. What resources do you use when training new staff?

Reading together in the library
Photo from ALSC stock photos

Some of that definitely depends on the position you’re filling and the person hired. Training for an experienced MLS librarian will definitely be different than training for a library assistant who has never worked with kids before. But every new employee needs to know where things are, who we work with, and how to use the system.

I start new employees with a checklist of every collection in our room and significant areas and items in our office. The checklist also includes basic computer and program procedures, depending on what season it is (i.e. a new employee starting in January doesn’t need to go over Summer Reading Club registration quite yet).

Since my new employee starting this month is a library assistant who will be expected to help out with storytimes and programming, I’m also providing the following resources:

Outstanding Library Services to Children: Putting the Core Competencies to Work by Rosanne Cerny, Penny Markey, and Amanda Williams (ALA Editions, 2006). This slim volume is a great introduction to the work we do in the Children’s Room, including information about ages and stages, a guide to providing children’s programming, strategies behind collection development, and more. Based on ALSC’s Core Competencies, this book covers a lot.

Early Literacy Storytimes @ your library®: Partnering with Caregivers for Success by Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz (ALA Editions, 2005). This book includes information on the research behind Every Child Ready to Read, the six early literacy skills, and how to apply the six early literacy skills in programs. Besides giving readers a basis in early literacy practices, the book contains many sample storytimes, perfect for someone new at programming.

I’ll be sending my new employee to an Every Child Ready to Read workshop next month, but in the meantime I’m suggesting the following online resources for additional examples of programs and information about early literacy:

The ALSC Blog, of course! I don’t have to explain to ALSC Blog readers what a rich resource this blog is. It’s a mix of practical programming ideas, thoughtful posts about children’s services, and news from ALSC.

CLEL (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) – Although this resource was started and is maintained by Colorado librarians, it’s useful information for anyone serving young children in libraries. Especially exciting are the new CLEL Bell Awards for picture books that exemplify one of the five early literacy practices (talk, sing, read, write, play).

Mel’s Desk – This blog written by Colorado librarian Melissa Depper is a wealth of early literacy and storytime resources. Her list of storytime blogs and websites is fantastic and she shares lots of practical ideas for including early literacy messages in her programs.

Pinterest – Pinterest is an excellent place to find ideas for crafts and activities to add to your storytimes. Many teachers and librarians are sharing ideas on Pinterest, making it a great place to find storytime inspiration.

Productive Parenting – I was introduced to this site by one of our librarians who subscribed to get activity ideas when she had her son. You can sign up to get age-appropriate activities emailed to you or search for early childhood activities by age or type of activity. This is a great place to find activities to build assets, either to include in your program or to include in take-home packets.

PUBYAC listserv – For anyone doing programming for children or young adults, PUBYAC provides a place to crowdsource ideas, share program successes, and get input on problems. The PUBYAC archives are a wealth of programming ideas.

Reading Rockets – This is a great resource for librarians helping parents of emerging readers or struggling readers. With lots of information about how kids learn how to read and what to do if they’re struggling, this site can not only help answer questions at the reference desk but can suggest activities for early literacy storytimes.

Storytime Katie – This blog written by Chicagoland librarian Katie Salo is my first stop for thematic storytime ideas. Katie’s list of themed storytimes is perfect for a storytime newbie, especially since many of our groups request specific topics.

Storytime Underground – This group blog written and maintained by Cory Eckert, Kendra Jones, and Amy Koester, is a treasure trove of thoughtful posts about the current and future state of storytime. Readers can submit questions to the Storytime Ninjas, take a peek at library spaces all over the world, and keep up on what’s being posted about early literacy around the blogsophere.

Of course, there are many, many other great blogs and websites that librarians love to use. These are the ones I handed my new employee to start with. I am always looking for more resources; what training materials do you find most helpful?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Renee

    Thanks. Even though I have been a librarian for couple of years, I’m going to check out some of these resources for myself!

  2. MelissaZD

    Abby–you’re a superstar! Thanks for the shout outs for the Bells and for Mel’s Desk.

  3. Lauren

    I’ve recommended WebJunction to my newer colleagues; they have some great webinars! I also love the Show Me Librarian.

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