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Building a Great Team

You have a vacancy in your youth services department. How can you make sure that you get the right person for the job and that they will be successful?

There are many factors that go into building a youth services team like crafting a good job description, asking the right questions in the interview, onboarding your new staff member, and providing on-going coaching and professional development opportunities so they can flourish. This blog post will pose a lot of questions, give you a few answers, and shamelessly plug the Managing Children’s Services Committee’s upcoming webinar series where you can get all of these answers and more.

Hiring

Hiring may be the most challenging part of this process. How do you craft a job description that will attract the right candidates? How do you structure your interviews to allow those candidates to show their strengths?

It is important to use the right job title and craft a good job description that matches the needs of your library and will attract the candidates that you want. Including the client group and age range in the title and description can help potential candidates quickly decide if they are interested. Leaving out these details can waste the time of both the candidates and the interviewer or can unintentionally eliminate potential candidates who are specifically looking for a youth services position. For example, let’s say that you have a job posting for a Librarian position. There is no mention of age-specific services in the job title or description. The only indication that this position will be working with children comes either during the interview or in the pre-interview when the candidate is sent a presentation prompt to create a children’s program or prepare a storytime for their interview. Alternatively, if you include children’s or youth services in the job title or description, you are much more likely to attract candidates who have a strong commitment to the client group. 

Once you have the right job posting, you want to share it so you get a wide pool of candidates. SLIS job boards, ALA’s job board, LinkedIn, and job recruiting websites are all good places to start. If you are already doing this and want to attract a diverse pool of candidates, where else could you share the job listing?

Next is the interview. Be flexible and remember that some candidates may not have access to technology for virtual interviews. How can you make your interview process more accessible for candidates who are neurodivergent? How do you ask the right questions to help you determine which candidate will be the right choice for your library?

Onboarding

You have hired the newest member of your youth services staff. Now what? What do they need to know to be successful in their new role?

Some things to consider: Is this their first youth services position? What is their previous experience working with the client group? Will the majority of their time be spent working the reference desk, planning and delivering children’s programs, doing outreach, maintaining the collection, or something else entirely? What are the needs of your community? Hopefully these details were included in your job posting too. Did they start in the middle of tax season and will need a crash course on the tax resources available in the area? Does your library serve a community with low in-home internet access, so a lot of time is spent helping patrons with the public computers? Will this person be a Jack-of-all-trades and need to learn the ILS quickly?

Having a new hire checklist can help with the formal and informal onboarding. This can lay out the necessary trainings that are required and timelines for completing them.

Mentoring

Now that your staff person has settled into their new position, how do you support their professional growth? Does your library offer a formal mentoring program? Are there mentor or leadership training opportunities through state or national professional associations? ALSC offers a great mentoring program. The current application period has just passed, but there is always next year. Can you set up an informal mentoring relationship with a more experienced children’s librarian? What professional development opportunities are available in your area or online, and do you have a budget if there is a registration fee?

All of this and more will be discussed at the upcoming webinar series Building Great Teams: Hiring and Onboarding in Youth Services

Part One: Best Practices in Recruiting and Hiring in Youth Services

Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 1:00pm ET / 12:00pm CT

Part Two: Onboarding Tips and Tricks in Youth Services

Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 1:00pm ET / 12:00pm CT

Part Three: Mentoring for Success and Beyond in Youth Services

Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 1:00pm ET / 12:00pm CT

  • Today’s blog post was written by Kristin Williamson, Children’s Services Manager at the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee. She can be reached at kwilliamson@metrolibrary.org and Twitter: @KristiNerd.

This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of IV. Administrative and Management Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development 

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