I recently became a manager after years of children’s librarianship! It’s been an adventure that has been exciting and fulfilling to me for the past couple of months.
I love children’s services, but after doing ALA Council for the last couple years, I have been starting to think about to move my passion and love for the career to more big-picture thinking of service and community needs. I have always thought about those things, but I never had time for it with the continuous service needs of children’s work.
Since I have made the switch, I wanted to share some tips on how you too can use some of your children’s librarian skills to be a successful manager.
Skills That Children’s Library Staff Have:
We think on our feet! Children’s staff are flexible. We know that things rarely go to plan, and we always need Plan B-Z as back ups. We have had performer no-shows and unexpected school visits, and we have managed (ha!) to make it work. This is a really important skill for a manager, as life changes a lot for our employees, building, and administration.
We are excellent at customer service for all ages! Children’s staff provide service to infants to the senior citizens, as we have lots of people come to our programs, story times, and reference desks to talk about books, literacy, and their love of the library. We are comfortable talking to all patrons, which is necessary for a manager.
We are dependable! Children’s staff know that the show has to go on! We know that children, teens, and others are depending on us to be there– not just in the building– but be present in their lives. When you work with a staff of employees, they also need to know you will be there for them.
We can handle multiple things at once! There have been countless times at the children’s desk where I am talking about books with a child, while a teen needs computer help, while a parent comes in with a booklist, with the phone ringing, etc. and you are the only one who can handle it all. If you can read that sentence and not feel panic– then management may be for you.
We can survive anything! As children’s library staff, we have probably encountered vomit, poop, urine, and terrible child meltdowns and misbehavior… and we are still here. There is a bit of strength in that! No matter how hard things are– we got this. So, you can definitely handle the additional workload and endless to-do list.
We are problem solvers! Children’s library staff are used to plans changing, moving lots of people around, and having to rearrange things last minute. These are great and necessary skills for managers– as you will have a lot of things going on at once! Your creative thinking skills will help you to be a great manager.
The switch from children’s library work to management is a tough call– but, I think Children’s Librarians make the best managers! The skills and abilities mentioned above are a great first start to think about how you would fair in management. Can you think of any other skills that children’s librarians can use to become amazing managers? Share below!