Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

ASK ALSC: Unplugging the Summer Learning Challenge

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. Kids are on screens…a lot. They have gone to virtual school, virtual extracurriculars, virtual library events. It has been a very plugged in year for our kids. Don’t get me wrong, our ability to transition so much of our lives, and library services, to the virtual world is astounding. We have been able to breakdown some barriers to access and reach new customers. But in this moment many families are looking for opportunities to unplug. Additionally, the digital divide continues to impact many of our children and families. Librarians are now faced…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Tips and Tricks for Those Dreaded Difficult Conversations

Being a manager can be rewarding in so many ways: you get the chance to set the tone of your department, greenlight exciting new programs and services, and hire and mentor wonderful staff. But, unfortunately, being a manager sometimes means having to initiate those conversations where you need to tell a staff member that there is a problem with their job performance. To help you make difficult conversations as painless and productive as possible, here are a few tips: Keep it private. Never discuss behavior or performance issues when others can overhear. Publicly criticizing or punishing a staff member is incredibly hurtful and embarrassing for them, and doing so can permanently damage your relationship with that individual, as well as with your entire team. Be prepared. These conversations are stressful for both parties and it can be easy to get sidetracked or overwhelmed. I’ve found it’s helpful to compile everything…


To Boldly Go Where They Have Not Gone Before

If you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to host a library school student; someone who thinks working with youth, caregivers, and families is absolutely the best.  Given that, I must be extremely lucky.  At last count, I have been able to do so fifty-two times.     Sometimes they are paid, sometimes not.  They can be called interns, or practicum students, or a number of other titles.  Whether they are just entering the professional workforce straight from college and graduate school, or have any number of years’ experience within or beyond the library world, an opportunity awaits for everyone involved.  In just one or two semesters, your investment of time, and sharing of knowledge, can turn out to be the pivotal learning experience for an aspiring children’s librarian. It all begins with a promise.  You promise to train them in all manner of library things.  They promise to apply…


Leadership During COVID-19

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post for the ALSC blog titled, ‘Leading Toward a Shared Vision and Common Purpose.’  I cited Richard Harwood’s book, Stepping Forward: A Positive Path to Transform Our Communities and Our Lives, for finding hope through common purpose and collective action. This call to step forward and find authentic hope is even more relevant in today’s pandemic-changed world. COVID-19 has been an extreme test of leadership across the country, causing even the strongest and most seasoned leaders to begin dreaming of early retirement. The library world is no exception. How can we be the kind of leader our teams need during so much uncertainty and change? What leadership skills and traits are most beneficial in these trying times? As a new library director (7 months in!), I’ve consulted many resources for ‘crisis leadership’ advice. Providing strong leadership for our teams is especially important…


Documenting Personal Experiences During the Pandemic

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. Documenting Personal Experiences During the Pandemic September, 2020 This morning I noticed yellow leaves on the Sweet Gum Tree outside my front door.  I glanced down the block at the Sugar Maple of my neighbor and sure enough, reds and oranges are signaling change.  When the leaves fall in my hometown children return to school and football becomes priority one.  This year, of course, is different. Families face an impossible choice this fall; risk the health and possibly the very life of their children by sending them to school, or risk their…


Taking Children Reading to Dogs Virtual

Like so many of us, March rolled around and stay-at-home orders forced us to quickly adapt the way we provide library services. Storytimes and book clubs went virtual, staff created engaging videos, and we hired presenters to film music and fitness videos that we could share online.  After a hearing from participants of our popular, Children Reading to Dogs programs; one of our children’s librarians brought the idea to our Engagement and Program services department to see if it was possible in this landscape. What we did We transitioned our in-person Children Reading to Dogs program into a 45-minute virtual program. Children’s Librarian Allie Barton proposed the idea, and with this in mind, our Volunteer Coordinator, Digital Services and Strategy Manager, and Teen Services Manager met to determine a format that might work.  Once that was determined, we created best practices, guidelines, and a schedule for the virtual program. The…


Outreach Programming in Urban Libraries

  An important aspect of every librarian’s job is outreach.  Engaging with our neighborhood daycares, preschools, and schools is a wonderful way to share the joy of reading, engage our youth, model early literacy to teachers, and promote our libraries.  My library branch reaches over 300 students a month through outreach, which ranges from the traditional story time to curriculum based programs selected by teachers. Our traditional story time outreach is similar to other libraries and includes books, songs, story boards, movements and finger plays.  An additional part of our outreach that’s received positive feedback is the accompanying craft.  Every story time outreach includes a craft and the materials needed to make the craft.  Included with the craft materials is an activity sheet (one per child) with a picture of the completed craft and step by step instructions on how to complete the craft.  The activity sheets also includes the…

Administrative and Management Skills

Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect: Why We Need Policies in Place

We have all been there: witness to a parent/child interaction that gives you pause. Or having a child in a program share with you something that raises red flags for that child’s well being. As children’s librarians, how do we handle these situations? How can establishing clear policies and procedures about suspected abuse or neglect help us to navigate them?