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Ask ALSC

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,…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

(re)Defining Leadership

A few weeks ago, I attended a day-long, local library conference, which was run entirely by library staff. In fact, the majority of the presenters were front line staff.  The program sessions and poster topics were relevant to everyday branch experiences. Ensuing discussions were meaningful and applicable to our daily work. The day left me feeling invigorated. Later that evening, several of us took some time to catch up and to socialize. During the course of the conversation, we discussed our career aspirations and professional goals. In our group of seven, all except one commented that they had no interest in a managerial position. However, several acknowledged that they would like more opportunities to use and to develop leadership skills. Our conversation made me think about how leadership is perceived and applied within the context of our work. Start with Yourself Often, discussions on leadership focus on management and leading…

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Sometimes it’s not a “no”, it’s “not yet”

I chatted recently with another manager about her children’s librarian, who has become discouraged as she looks for new challenges. “She’s so wonderful. I can’t believe that someone else hasn’t snatched her away. She is world-class.” I agreed and shared, “sometimes it’s just about timing. I can’t even tell you how many jobs within our organization I’ve applied for and haven’t gotten.” “Same here…” “Oh, I never knew that.” “It’s not something we talk about often, but maybe we should be a bit more open about it.” So, in the interest of full disclosure, over the course of fifteen years in my organization, I’ve held six different positions. Three of those positions, I applied for unsuccessfully before ultimately receiving offers. I’ve also applied for countless others (ten? more? I really have lost track). The first time I applied to be the Assistant Children’s Services Manager, the hiring manager called to…

Commitment to Client Group

Ask ALSC

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’s topic is snow (or cancellations in general). Minnesota and the upper Midwest in general have been dealing with a lot of snow this winter. Schools in my west central Minnesota area have been cancelled numerous times. What does that mean for storytimes or other programs you offer? I am the sole youth librarian in my library. As long as I can make it in to work, I do hold my programs as planned. People still tend to come to the library, even in winter warning conditions so if I can provide…

Commitment to Client Group

Ask ALSC

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 topic or suggest a topic for the future, then please leave a comment. This Ask ALSC post will focus on caregiver involvement in library programming for toddlers preschool aged children. During a sensory program, there are three hands on activity stations that require caregivers to assist their children; however, several caregivers are more focused on playing at the stations themselves rather than assisting their child with the activity. I surveyed library managers and veteran youth librarians to see what they might do to help navigate this type of situation. Those surveyed provided three suggestions: MODEL: When librarians model the desired behavior, they provide both…

Administrative and Management Skills

ALSC Asks:

Many management and leadership decisions with patrons are judgement calls based on ones understanding of their library policy. We have a scenario for you to consider: A solo parent comes into the children’s area of the library with a teenager, a toddler, and an infant to enjoy a Summer Reading Puppet show. Upon arrival the teenager immediately leaves their family in the children’s area to hang out with  friends in the teen area. Once the puppet show begins the toddler starts screaming, laughing, and trying to climb on stage to touch the puppets. The parent, with their hands full holding the infant, apologizes for the interruption and pulls the toddler off the stage. The toddler continues to scream, laugh and point at the stage while the performance resumes. After 15 minutes the puppeteer asks the parent to quiet the toddler, because they are disrupting the show. The parent explains the toddler…

Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Ask ALSC

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. Our inaugural Ask ALSC post, will focus on the issue of book challenges.  At some point during your career, you will encounter a patron challenge to a book in your collection.  No matter the reason for the challenge, librarians should handle the situation with diplomacy, while stressing the importance of providing a collection that represents everyone.  To help navigate these situations, here are some suggestions from managers and veteran librarians. Those surveyed provided three suggestions for handling book challenges.  The first suggestion was listening. When librarians listen, it helps establish a dialogue…

Administrative and Management Skills

Children’s Librarians Are Experts at… Leading a Team

Gretchen Caserotti gave an inspiring keynote presentation at the 2017 Power Up Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers and Staff about natural leadership traits inherent in children’s librarians. The comparison has crept into my thinking multiple times since. Using LLAMA’s Leadership and Management Competencies as a framework, it’s easy to see why children’s librarians are experts at leading a team. Change Management and Problem Solving Who hasn’t planned the most beautiful, age-appropriate story time for 4-5 year olds, only to be surprised by a room full of toddlers? Or sensed in the first pages of a story that you’re losing the wiggly kids in front of you? Children’s librarians are experts at flexibility and problem solving. We can improvise a Plan B, achieve buy-in, and motivate a group to follow our lead, breaking into song or dance when needed. We take risks, try new things, persuade others, and keep a sense…