Administrative and Management Skills

Katrina to Ida: Staff Communication and Community

There has been a lot written, in this blog and in other publications, about the role libraries and librarians can play in helping communities that experience a natural disaster. Children’s librarians play an especially important role in providing kids and families with resources for recovery and resiliency. But library staff are also going through the disaster and aftermath themselves. Having gone through two major hurricanes, 16 years apart to the day, I would like to share what I’ve learned about taking care of the library’s greatest asset during and after a disaster-the staff.


Applying the SOAR Model to Virtual Children’s Programming During a Pandemic

How did the Parkway Central Children’s Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia get a head start on virtual programming before the pandemic? In November of 2019, I attended a series of Skills for Community Centered Libraries training sessions with a cohort of my colleagues at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The training was developed by the Free Library with funding from IMLS, in partnership with seven other libraries around the United States & Canada. This curriculum will soon be available to all public libraries. In that setting, I was inspired with a spark of an idea about putting bite sized pieces of Storytime programming on Instagram Stories – this idea developed and blossomed into so much more as our world changed. I had no idea, in late 2019, that our job was about to change so drastically and we would have to bring all of our programming to the…


Lets Talk: Finding the Balance While Reopening During Summer Reading

For the past year or so, libraries around our country have either been closed completely or opened with lower capacity and hours. Now libraries are reopening with limited capacity and hours while other libraries find themselves opening at 100%. Although we are all looking forward to reopening and seeing the little faces lined up for reading logs and arms filled with books, librarians are scrambling to adjust summer programming that was already set for the virtual scene. This includes reading logs online, virtual programs and events, and books reserved online for pick up — no browsing the isles. How do we find a balance in such a rushed environment of reopening? In my local community, we have different library systems and all systems have been faced with the task of reopening. Patrons are excited about our reopening and want to browse and attend in-person events. As we created our summer…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Statewide Virtual Performer Showcase: Lessons Learned

When school is dismissed for the summer, and excitement around library Summer Reading Programs (SRP) begin, library traffic increases dramatically. Here in Kansas that means staff at approximately 323 public libraries have been planning a schedule for months. This schedule includes challenges for a reading program, educational or entertaining performers, and crafts or hands-on activities. This winter, two regional youth consultants designed and offered a virtual showcase of performers to help meet social distancing guidelines and other changing needs librarians face, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The showcase is now available via the state’s regional library system webpage. This showcase helps staff make informed decisions when scheduling performers. The showcase used an existing Statewide Performer’s Directory to contact performers and gauge interest. Then, youth consultants divided the performers expressing interest into categories and scheduled recording dates and times. Reception from the performers was overwhelmingly positive. Consultants recorded ten minute segments using…

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…