- LibLearnX 2022

How to Think Like a Library Project Manager

An idea without a plan for execution is just making trouble for somebody else.

– paraphrased from #LibLearnX presenter

Don’t you love ideas? I sure do. During my first year as a children’s librarian, I wanted to do everything. Outreach, collection, storytimes, technology, you name it…bring it on. Fast forward. It’s the middle of a global pandemic. Staff. Are. Tired. What projects do we take on?

This session, led by Kim Zablud (Founder & Senior Consultant @ Advancing with Purpose) helped me think– and rethink– priorities.

Ideas are great. Not all ideas need to go forward.

Consider the following questions before diving in:

-What problem are you trying to solve, and is it a priority for your organization?

-Is now the right time?

-Is this idea intentional, deliberate, and does it fit with your strategic plan?

-Is it flexible? Does it allow for creativity and ideation?

-Is this idea in the purview of your job?

In 2022, I’m narrowing focus and spearheading a project in our children’s department that lines up with our library’s strategic plan, mission, and vision: a diversity audit of our in-house storytime collection. It’s not just books that need auditing. This collection isn’t just picture books– oh no. We have prop stories, oral stories, big books, puppets, and (this is not an exaggeration) over 700 flannel rhymes. Our charge in 2022 is to analyze (and weed) the collection for its diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Currently, we’re only in the “initiating” stage of the project. We are asking questions such as:

  • How many of our flannels display only white people?
  • Are there rhymes or songs derived from racist tunes or melodies?
  • Oral stories-are they culturally accurate? Is there misrepresentation and bias?
  • Which stories/rhymes/songs could be replaced with something better, more inclusive?
  • Where are our gaps?

I’d love to hear about your priorities and projects!

Conference Blogger Katie Clausen is the Early Literacy Services Manager at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL. Katie’s specialties include: early literacy, children’s literature evaluation, play-based learning, and best storytime practices. As a member of the ALSC Notable Recordings committee, Katie is most excited about collaborating with others to select the final list. A member of ALA and ALSC since 2012, and loves a conference snack of Ghirardelli peppermint bark.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.


  1. Ashley Bressingham

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this session! It wasn’t on my radar but I want to go back and watch it now!

    1. Katie Clausen Post author

      Thanks for reading, Ashley! It caught my eye because librarians ARE project managers, but I sure never took a class on it!

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