Administrative and Management Skills

Greenish: How one children’s department is trying to be better at the three R’s

“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is a very polarizing children’s book. Some people say it is a heartwarming story about a tree that is always there for a boy when he needs it. Some people say that the boy selfishly took from the tree without ever giving anything away himself. Whether or not you think this book is fundamentally heartwarming or appalling, one thing always stays the same – the tree loses its resources over time.  As a children’s librarian I am in the world of paper, so I am not advocating for the abolishment of printed books any time soon. The research clearly shows the benefits of holding a physical book vs. holding a screen for young children. I merely want to try to be better stewards of everything we do in our children’s department that supports literacy.  When I was a young kid in Alabama, I remember…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Finding Renewal in 2020: Expert Leadership Advice

Taped to the metal cabinet in my work cubicle is a list of tips to “Get Unstuck in 2018” that I printed from author and leadership expert Robin Sharma’s website two years ago. The reminders provide guideposts to help me lead by my best example. I’m struck by the similarities between Sharma’s advice for leaders and the pearls of wisdom for early childhood educators collected from Mr. Rogers of children’s television fame, further strengthening my belief that children’s librarians make the best leaders. Below are my favorite mashups from both experts, Robin Sharma (RS) and Fred Rogers (FR). I hope you find them as helpful as I have in rediscovering my center and redefining my values for guiding a team in the new year: Tip #1: RS: “Ordinary people talk about goals. Leaders get them done. With elegance, brilliance, and finesse.” (1) FR: “There’s a world of difference between insisting…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Family Engagement During Storytime: Shifting from Performer to Early Literacy Facilitator

Welcome to Ask ALSC, where the Managing Youth Services Committee asks leaders in children’s libraries to share their response to an issue or situation.  We hope to showcase a range of responses to topics that may affect ALSC members. If you’d like to respond to today’s topics, or suggest a topic for the future, please leave a comment.

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Leading Toward a Shared Vision and Common Purpose

Supervising a creative, project-driven team, I often tread a fine line between wanting to be a supportive ‘yes person’ and making strategic choices for how we allocate staffing and resources. It’s not always easy, for as David Maister says, “Strategy means saying no” ( Three books are helpful when balancing intentional decision-making with motivating a team: Harwood, Richard. Stepping Forward: A Positive, Practical Path to Transform Our Communities and Our Lives. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2019. This new book by the founder of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation introduces seven principles of stepping forward to help communities find common ground, rebuild trust, expand circles of action, and develop a culture of ‘civic confidence’ for positive change. Harwood talks about the importance of stopping to listen, of having the courage and humility necessary to show up, to make those tough and intentional choices, and to remain open to…

Administrative and Management Skills

Wanna be a Branch Manager? Manage Yourself First.

Do you want to be a branch manager? Ok, I have a scenario for you: Let’s pretend you are a children’s librarian in a large multi-branch library system, with a personal passion for serving homeless adults in your city’s downtown district. Given the choice between facilitating an outreach storytime in a women’s shelter downtown or in a private Montessori school one block from your library (all other things being equal), which should you choose?

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Refinement: Growing in place

We just wrapped our last day of Summer Reading with our finale. As the festivities came to a close, several patrons asked about next month’s schedule of programs. “When does storytime start again? What’s going on tomorrow?” Youth Services work is often very cyclical and at times quite regimented. Certain programs are offered on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. At the same time, our work prompts us to look ahead in our planning, purchasing, and anticipating what’s next. While there is some comfort to be found in familiar patterns and repetition, how can we keep a fresh outlook and focus in on the present moment? Additionally, how can we ensure that we continue to grow professionally, adjust within our evolving  roles, and meet the needs of our communities?

Administrative and Management Skills

2019 Summer Learning on Leadership and Management

Looking over the ALSC Blog archives, I was inspired by 2017’s Summer Reading for Managers list, which included a number of stellar titles (go read them already!) As part of my own professional summer reading and podcast listening, I’ve been focusing on the topics of time management and habit change, both of which help prevent burn-out by allowing us to play the long game. Currently, I’ve been inhaling Laura Vanderkam’s work, re-reading 168 Hours, I Know How She Does It and Off the Clock. I appreciate that Vanderkam starts from an abundance mindset, instead of one of scarcity. All of us have the same 168 hours in a week, which over the course of a month provides plenty of time both for obligations and the hobbies or causes that we are passionate about. Vanderkam is a big proponent of time tracking to pinpoint when we are spending our time on…



Welcome to Ask ALSC, where the Managing Youth Services Committee asks leaders in children’s libraries to share their response to an issue or situation. We hope to showcase a range of responses to topics that may affect ALSC members. If you’d like to respond to today’s topics, or suggest a topic for the future, please leave a comment. Today we will discuss advocacy. As librarians, we are constantly vying for resources to fund programs and purchase materials. With so much going on at the library this can seem like a monumental undertaking. I surveyed several librarians and asked how they advocated for their work and their programs. Below are the top three responses I received. Rely on others: This first response may come as a surprise but many librarians said they let others advocate for them. The teacher that you conduct outreach for, the parent who comes to story time,…