Administrative and Management Skills

Getting Back to Basics

As summer reading comes to an end, I breathe a sigh of relief and sadness. The fun and learning always continues at the library, but summer definitely brings its own unique hustle and bustle. However, autumn is a great time of year to refocus the mind and decide what goals you would like to accomplish before another summer reading planning season begins.

For me, fall is often all about weeding. It’s a great time to really dig into the various collections in the children’s department and see what has been going out, what is falling apart, what has disappeared, and perhaps, what gaps you’ve noticed via reference questions over the summer. I feel at my most refreshed and ready for weeding in the fall. Honestly, it is cathartic to start digging into collections again in a way I definitely haven’t had time or energy for in the last four or five months.

I also really like taking a day or afternoon to do a deep clean of my desk space. That means going through notes, reminders, piles that have built up and deciding what needs immediate attention. I always do a little actual fall cleaning too and wipe down not only my desk but all the surfaces in the kids area of the library. (Of course we try our best to keep up with this in summer but most of you know how sand, juice, crayon, and other detritus builds up). Can you recruit a few studious volunteers who can help you clean off book shelves, vacuum (sadly the maintenance department at my county library is spread very thin), move furniture and tackle any odd stains that have popped up. Maybe this is the time of year that you have the ability and staffing to take on small painting projects (a fresh coat of restroom paint, maybe even new office paint!). Small changes can definitely revive staff and get everyone on board with upcoming projects.

It may also be time to do staff evaluations. Evaluations fall at different times of the year at my work place. I am fortunate to have a late fall evaluation and a winter evaluation for another staffer. This can be a great time to compliment staff on their performance over summer and to dig into any goals they may have for the coming year.

Another important job in the fall is to get in touch with schools. We’ve just handed back scores of kids to the school system but we definitely do not want to let their experiences at the library fade into oblivion. Are there simple partnerships you can foster during the school year to ensure kids will visit both the school and public library?

Sometimes these thoughts can be daunting as we just finish off summer reading. But instead of seeing these tasks as too much, take them step-by-step and see what you can accomplish with the help of library staff and community partnerships. Fall is all about going back to the drawing board and it is a great time of year to see what new ideas crop up.

What other tasks do you save for the end of summer reading and beginning of fall?

Today’s blog post was written by Sarah Wethern, Youth Librarian at the Douglas County Library in Alexandria, Minnesota, on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: VI. Administrative and Management Skills.

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