Commitment to Client Group


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


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…

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.

Administrative and Management Skills

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…

Administrative and Management Skills

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…


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…