Administrative and Management Skills

Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect: Why We Need Policies in Place

We have all been there: witness to a parent/child interaction that gives you pause. Or having a child in a program share with you something that raises red flags for that child’s well being. As children’s librarians, how do we handle these situations? How can establishing clear policies and procedures about suspected abuse or neglect help us to navigate them?

Administrative and Management Skills

Ask ALSC: Storytime Collaboration

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 the country practiced stay-at-home safety, libraries and librarians dusted off their tools and created virtual storytimes and activities that created additional resources for families during this difficult time.

Administrative and Management Skills

Greenish: How one children’s department is trying to be better at the three R’s

“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is a very polarizing children’s book. Some people say it is a heartwarming story about a tree that is always there for a boy when he needs it. Some people say that the boy selfishly took from the tree without ever giving anything away himself. Whether or not you think this book is fundamentally heartwarming or appalling, one thing always stays the same – the tree loses its resources over time.  As a children’s librarian I am in the world of paper, so I am not advocating for the abolishment of printed books any time soon. The research clearly shows the benefits of holding a physical book vs. holding a screen for young children. I merely want to try to be better stewards of everything we do in our children’s department that supports literacy.  When I was a young kid in Alabama, I remember…

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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…

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Staff Empowerment

My first position as a department head coincided with the opening of a new branch.   It was hectic.   Our branch was the first in a major capital building campaign, and it featured a lot of new technology.  Besides different phones and fax machines, we also had an audio recording studio and a Smartboard.   To top it off…we were short staffed.  Just after the building opened, the head of children’s (I was teen at the time) left for a different position.  Therefore, we had a lot of substitutes in the building for a few months, which was difficult because they were not comfortable with the new equipment.   The department heads (me, the head of adult, and the branch manager) were running ragged.  Not only were we doing our typical job and handling the high volume of visitors we faced the first 6 months, but we were constantly…

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Family Engagement During Storytime: Shifting from Performer to Early Literacy Facilitator

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.

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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…

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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?