Blogger Katie Salo

Leaving Your Job With Care & Class

While I mostly blog about storytime and flannelboards, I’m also a Youth Services Manager…at least for one last week. 2014 is going to start off with my first ever library job change and I’m so excited for my new position!

Immediately after I gave notice at my current library, I reached out to friends on Twitter for advice on what good predecessors did to prepare the way for a new Youth Services Manager. (Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your wonderful suggestions, congratulations, and support!)

And here’s what I did, as only a storytime librarian could tell it:

A tale in three stories: Dinosaur Vs. the Library by Bob Shea; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; and Foxy by Emma Dodd. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Part One: Miss Katie Versus…The File Cabinets!

I may not be battling the library (or bedtime or the potty), but I’m definitely battling the office area. The most universal piece of advice I received was: clean up your messes.

This meant going through three different file cabinets of accumulated materials. I kept a few files, gave a lot of them to the new YS manager, and threw most of them away. We have a ton of digital archives on our server and nobody needs my paper trail.

I wound up cleaning out the storytime closet, doing a final inventory, and updating the spreadsheets that the three staff members taking over my storytime duties will need to use.

And I organized the server files that all staff members share. I consulted with the new YS manager to make sure that she knew where everything was and that the organization system made sense to her. If it didn’t, I changed how I had done things so they worked for her.

I feel so much better knowing that my staff members won’t spend the first week without me trying to dig out from underneath the paperwork I left behind.

Part Two: Goodbye Kids, Goodbye Teens, Goodbye Patrons Still Unseen

Instead of saying Goodnight to everything, I need to say Goodbye. I’ve worked at my library for eight years. That’s seven summer reading programs, five years of storytime, and eight years of Teen Book Clubs. I have a lot of patrons to say goodbye to.

I followed Ingrid Abrams’s great advice and created an elevator speech that I could use for everyone. And for the past few weeks, I gave it over and over again. I told staff, kids, teens, parents, families, vendors, schools, daycare providers, and community partners.

For my storytime families, I incorporated a goodbye into our craft for the “mail/post office” theme I’d planned for this week. I wrote a letter to my families and I put it inside their mailboxes before storytime began. Once we were at the craft tables, I told my families. I made this choice to wait until after the story portion so I could take the time to reassure them and answer questions.

And as for the kids that I miss saying goodbye to? Abby Johnson gave me a great idea at Midwinter. Abby recently had a co-worker retire and they set up a card table in their library after the retirement so kids could make cards. My staff members are thrilled with this idea since I know they’re worried about telling the kids once I’m gone.

Part Three: That’s a Binder, Foxy!

While Foxy tries to give Emily all the tools she needs to start school, I’ve got to give everyone the tools to work without me. I had to give my patrons the tools to believe in the new staff and I had to prepare the new YS manager to take over.

Ally Watkins sent me a list of the manager duties that her predecessor left for her and I knew I had to do the same for my new YS manager:

The new YS Manager Binder. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

I made this binder. It includes training guides for staff, programming guides, manuals I’ve written about areas of the collection, lists about awards that we buy, three annotated School Library Journals, and a fifteen-page list of manager duties & how-tos.

I also wrote a ridiculously long document about upcoming Juvenile and YA Fiction releases for this year. All the way from “The Shadow Throne” by Jennifer Nielsen next month to “Winter” by Marissa Meyer in winter of 2015.

In the very front pocket of this binder is my contact information. My cell and home phone number, my personal email, an email address for patrons (mostly my teens) to contact for recommendation letters or questions/concerns, and my email address at my new library. I’ve made myself available and I hope I’ve left my library with the very best tools for the new YS manager to use.

How did you leave your last library position? What was something you found helpful when you took your current position? I’ve still got a week to fix/add anything I’ve missed. Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager (for the last time!)
Melrose Park Library


  1. Lisa

    Katie, this post is great! I plan on staying where I am, but I’m adding this to my files. =)

  2. Abby Johnson

    What a wonderful post, Katie! I don’t think I have anything to add, but I will say that when I took my current position, I had to dig through the accumulated files of my predecessor’s predecessor who had been at the library for 28 years and kept EVERYTHING (multiple copies in many cases). It was the pits. (ACTUALLY there’s still a filing cabinet of stuff that I haven’t even touched…) I’m not planning on going anywhere, but I might take some time and go through more of those files this week.

  3. Allison Murphy

    This is excellent advice Katie! I recently left a beloved job of 8+ years and had a similar experience. I gave my last preschool story time group blank postcards and asked them to color/write me a note. I then gave them a card from me to take home. Even though I thought I’d saved everything I wanted onto a flashdrive, I still found something that was missing. Fortunately, our tech services person was wise enough to save my files onto my old computer’s desktop, and she was able to send me the document at my new location!

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