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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…

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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…

Administrative and Management Skills

How to look ahead…

We are in a historical moment. A pandemic. We can’t do what we have always done, and maybe that’s a good thing. I hope that our systems, our peers, and ourselves take a second or eighth look at what we have always done and see the potential to do more or rediscover what we could do. As numbers increase across the country, and more uncertainty looms with the flu season upon us, it’s getting kind of hard to go work. Even if you love it. And so many of us really do. This is a difficult time to work in the public, and it’s a difficult time to manage those who do. Psst. I don’t actually have any answers. I keep going because it’s my job, and I want to serve my community and support my staff. So, to go on… I practice safety at work. I wash my hands…

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?

Administrative and Management Skills

2019 Summer Learning on Leadership and Management

Looking over the ALSC Blog archives, I was inspired by 2017’s Summer Reading for Managers list, which included a number of stellar titles (go read them already!) As part of my own professional summer reading and podcast listening, I’ve been focusing on the topics of time management and habit change, both of which help prevent burn-out by allowing us to play the long game. Currently, I’ve been inhaling Laura Vanderkam’s work, re-reading 168 Hours, I Know How She Does It and Off the Clock. I appreciate that Vanderkam starts from an abundance mindset, instead of one of scarcity. All of us have the same 168 hours in a week, which over the course of a month provides plenty of time both for obligations and the hobbies or causes that we are passionate about. Vanderkam is a big proponent of time tracking to pinpoint when we are spending our time on…

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…