Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Collaboration and Equity for Summer Programs: A Recap of a #PLA2022 Preconference

The PLA conference was over a month ago, but I’m still unpacking the preconference I attended. “Best Practices for Summer Learning Based on Racial Equity” was a half day workshop presented by Christy Estrovitz from the San Francisco Public Library, Sheryl Evans Davis from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Christi Farrah from the Massachusetts Library System, and Elizabeth McChesney from the National Summer Learning Association.  The workshop revolved around the 2021 “Everybody Reads” summer program sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library along with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Like everyone else, the Library had to think fast about how to offer a summer reading program during the pandemic. The program consisted of a kit that included a 38 page full color booklet that featured eleven books for a variety of ages. Each book is a positive portrayal of an underrepresented community. The booklet includes activities to go along…

Administrative and Management Skills

Staying Out of Trouble

Whenever I look at something going bad, I ask:  Are there systems in place?  Are they up to date?  Are they implemented?  It all leads up to making decisions on high consequence, low probability events, or what many call high risk – low frequency. Think of your library.  Each library consists of a distinct set of offices, branches, departments, or at a minimum, colleagues each with set of things for which they are responsible.  Let’s just call them the things we do; each of us.  Your job is complex.  There may be hundreds or thousands of things you do that need to happen correctly so that your library, office, branch, or department can function; consistently delivering upon its mission.  Those things all have one singular goal; doing it right. In youth work, if you are going to recommend titles, you do it right.  If you are presenting a story time,…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Using Yoga in Storytime

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. As libraries reopen, some have in-person storytimes, while other libraries are still exclusively online. Others have created a hybrid using both. No matter which way storytime is presented, we are all looking for fresh and inventive ways to help children learn and have a positive time during storytimes. One simple and fun way to welcome children back is to include yoga. Incorporating yoga in storytime is very easy to plan, given some simple dos and don’ts. Here are a few resources to help guide you.

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…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

When You’re Not the Supervisor…But You Have to Manage Staff

While working on another project, I came across the book Middle Management in Academic and Public Libraries, edited by Tom Diamond.  One chapter caught my eye: “Managing the Performance of People Who Do Not Report to You.” This situation happens fairly frequently, and it can be a difficult one to navigate. Some examples I have experienced: My system has a Homework Center.  While I am the direct supervisor of my branch’s Homework Center Coordinator, the Center’s tutors report to someone at our Administrative Building.  There are several layers of messy supervision…the Coordinator is the person who directly sees the tutors at work.  I, as the children’s librarian, visit often but am not in the room the entire time.  And the actual supervisor may only see the tutor a few times a semester. I often have to guide the coordinator in addressing tutor issues, as this position was frequently a first…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Team Building in the Time of Virtual Meetings

Usually at this time of year I am planning our library’s Youth Services Winter Retreat. Sometime around the second week of December the Children’s Services department of eight staff members and the Teen Services department of three staff members take a whole day to reflect on the past year’s programming and services, to plan for spring, and to begin summer reading plans. We also have at least one fun activity that serves as a team builder. Retreat sounds fancier than it really is, we don’t actually go anywhere. We gather in the meeting room of one of the branches and might go out to lunch. Well this year, the retreat will be virtual. The meeting over our virtual platform we’ve got down pat. But team building seems more important now more than ever. We have three new librarians who have only met in person maybe a couple of times. I…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Finding Renewal in 2020: Expert Leadership Advice

Taped to the metal cabinet in my work cubicle is a list of tips to “Get Unstuck in 2018” that I printed from author and leadership expert Robin Sharma’s website two years ago. The reminders provide guideposts to help me lead by my best example. I’m struck by the similarities between Sharma’s advice for leaders and the pearls of wisdom for early childhood educators collected from Mr. Rogers of children’s television fame, further strengthening my belief that children’s librarians make the best leaders. Below are my favorite mashups from both experts, Robin Sharma (RS) and Fred Rogers (FR). I hope you find them as helpful as I have in rediscovering my center and redefining my values for guiding a team in the new year: Tip #1: RS: “Ordinary people talk about goals. Leaders get them done. With elegance, brilliance, and finesse.” (1) FR: “There’s a world of difference between insisting…

Administrative and Management Skills

Wanna be a Branch Manager? Manage Yourself First.

Do you want to be a branch manager? Ok, I have a scenario for you: Let’s pretend you are a children’s librarian in a large multi-branch library system, with a personal passion for serving homeless adults in your city’s downtown district. Given the choice between facilitating an outreach storytime in a women’s shelter downtown or in a private Montessori school one block from your library (all other things being equal), which should you choose?