Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Leading Toward a Shared Vision and Common Purpose

Supervising a creative, project-driven team, I often tread a fine line between wanting to be a supportive ‘yes person’ and making strategic choices for how we allocate staffing and resources. It’s not always easy, for as David Maister says, “Strategy means saying no” (davidmaister.com). Three books are helpful when balancing intentional decision-making with motivating a team: Harwood, Richard. Stepping Forward: A Positive, Practical Path to Transform Our Communities and Our Lives. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2019. This new book by the founder of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation introduces seven principles of stepping forward to help communities find common ground, rebuild trust, expand circles of action, and develop a culture of ‘civic confidence’ for positive change. Harwood talks about the importance of stopping to listen, of having the courage and humility necessary to show up, to make those tough and intentional choices, and to remain open to…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Refinement: Growing in place

We just wrapped our last day of Summer Reading with our finale. As the festivities came to a close, several patrons asked about next month’s schedule of programs. “When does storytime start again? What’s going on tomorrow?” Youth Services work is often very cyclical and at times quite regimented. Certain programs are offered on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. At the same time, our work prompts us to look ahead in our planning, purchasing, and anticipating what’s next. While there is some comfort to be found in familiar patterns and repetition, how can we keep a fresh outlook and focus in on the present moment? Additionally, how can we ensure that we continue to grow professionally, adjust within our evolving  roles, and meet the needs of our communities?

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…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

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…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

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…