Administrative and Management Skills

Advice for New Managers

Everything I know about storytime I learned from Nancy. A veteran storyteller, Nancy carefully folded me into her programs during my first month on the job as a new librarian. First, I simply observed. Next, I was allowed to do a fingerplay. The next time, I did a fingerplay and read a book, and so on. After a while I was confidently leading the group on my own. That was not my experience when I became a manager.

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Getting Back to Basics

As summer reading comes to an end, I breathe a sigh of relief and sadness. The fun and learning always continues at the library, but summer definitely brings its own unique hustle and bustle. However, autumn is a great time of year to refocus the mind and decide what goals you would like to accomplish before another summer reading planning season begins. For me, fall is often all about weeding. It’s a great time to really dig into the various collections in the children’s department and see what has been going out, what is falling apart, what has disappeared, and perhaps, what gaps you’ve noticed via reference questions over the summer. I feel at my most refreshed and ready for weeding in the fall. Honestly, it is cathartic to start digging into collections again in a way I definitely haven’t had time or energy for in the last four or…

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Telling Your Summer Reading Story

Madison Public Library Spoke'n Words at the Wild Rumpus

As I was working on our 2019 budget narratives this last month, I was struck once again by the importance of telling stories. The stories we are telling our funders (both governmental and private) are crucial to our success in securing the funds we need to accomplish our goals. And telling the story of summer reading is no exception — we need to message to our funders to help them understand just why summer reading is so important to our communities. Over the last few summers, the youth services team at the Madison Public Library has been implementing some new strategies to do this. They include: Sending weekly reports to our Library Director. One of our big summer programming initiatives involves programming in the parks. Our librarians provide the Director a weekly summary including photos, attendance numbers, the teaching objective of the week, and a comment from a parent or…

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This summer is B-A-N-A-N-A-S–how can you help as a manager?

Summer reading has arrived. By now, many public librarians are hard at work implementing all the fun programs that have been in the works for months now. Performers, STEAM, movies, story-walks, storytimes, free lunches, and so much more. Staff in the youth department is hopping. As a manager, there are some inexpensive ways to help everyone keep cool, calm, and as stress free as possible. There is not a lot of downtime at the library during summer but before the hectic work day begins, take a minute to leave notes of encouragement and praise to staff. Everyone appreciates being recognized for their hard work and it will help staff push through the really tough days knowing management recognizes their commitment to summer reading. Keep a white board up in a staff area and encourage staff to share positive moments they have helped facilitate during summer, i.e. a book suggestion was…

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Health Programs in the Children’s Department

Does your library put health and wellness as a priority in public programming? With the evolving role of libraries in our communities, the aspect of connecting patrons to quality health information as a goal to help them lead healthier lives is becoming more prominent in the public libraries. Frequently, conversations of health programming is confined within adult services departments or those specifically serving seniors; however, health programs are just as important in the children’s department. I recently began a job at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine where I work with public libraries on building capacity of providing health programs, information, and services around the All of Us Research Program including topics of genetics, environment, and lifestyle. In this role I’ve become more aware of the health-focused programs and services already in place and the vast possibilities of providing these topics in a public library setting. It is important…

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Supporting Children’s Services through Career Transitions

Recently, I re-read the ALSC Blog post, Why Children’s Librarians Should Run the World (or at least the library), which asked why more children’s librarians weren’t moving into management positions. One explanation was that they prefer not to give up the job satisfaction received by working directly with children. I’ve certainly heard that reluctance from children’s librarians who would make excellent supervisors. If you are on the fence about testing out a leadership role, know that you can shape your job to still feel linked to your original mission. I know firsthand – I was a children’s librarian for nearly seven years before deciding to explore supervision. I’ve now served as an assistant managing librarian, the children’s services coordinator, the youth services manager and a managing librarian. In that time, I’ve learned that you can support children’s services in a meaningful way even as job titles and responsibilities change. Give…

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Poetry and more

This year marks the 29th year of my library system’s annual poetry contest for kids. I love that this writing tradition has continued for so long and that kids and teachers still enjoy it. Below are a few other writing program ideas I’ve seen or read about going on in libraries.  I’ve added some book suggestions from the experts when applicable. I think the library is a great place for kids to experience writing for fun and hope one of these suggestions gets you excited to try something new. Start a writing club for kids. Use Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos as a group read and journal starter. It is pure fun. If you are part of the CSLP, which has the Libraries Rock theme, coloring journals in the catalog are only $1.25 – a cost effective way to promote…

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A Manager’s Role in Staff Self-Care

Compassion fatigue  has been a term that has been mentioned a lot recently. Compassion fatigue is “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events”(1). Put more simply, it can be emotionally and mentally draining to perform work, like librarianship, that requires the constant care of others in difficult situations. While helping people is a major motivating factor that I hear from library staff about why they got into the profession and why they love it so much (including myself) the experience of compassion fatigue can quickly lead to personal burnout and health problems. A good way to combat this is to engage in self-care techniques and by practicing a healthy work-life balance. However, being able to strike that emotional balance of being immersed and devoted to our work and taking time to relax and center ourselves can be tricky. In…