Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

A Manager’s Role in Staff Self-Care

Compassion fatigue  has been a term that has been mentioned a lot recently. Compassion fatigue is “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events”(1). Put more simply, it can be emotionally and mentally draining to perform work, like librarianship, that requires the constant care of others in difficult situations. While helping people is a major motivating factor that I hear from library staff about why they got into the profession and why they love it so much (including myself) the experience of compassion fatigue can quickly lead to personal burnout and health problems. A good way to combat this is to engage in self-care techniques and by practicing a healthy work-life balance. However, being able to strike that emotional balance of being immersed and devoted to our work and taking time to relax and center ourselves can be tricky. In…

Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Summer Reading for Managers

Many of us working with kids and teens spend our reading time catching up on the books we’re excited to recommend to our readers. We encourage our patrons to continue reading and learning all through the summer so they can start the school year ready to grow. What if we did the same for ourselves? What if we carved out a little time over the summer (and all year round!) to educate ourselves on improving management skills? Here are a couple titles to start your reading journey. Please leave your suggestions for great management reading in the comments!   Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg               Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath                 Lean In: Women, Work, and the…

Professional Development

Support Your Leaders

What do you think about when you hear the phrase “support your leaders”? No matter who your mind finds, that person is likely in a position above yours, right? Maybe a director, supervisor, or even a mentor. But what about the leaders that don’t have positional authority? What about the great people on your staff, or those looking to build up their own leadership skills in your organization? Supporting future leaders, empowering them to strengthen their abilities and take on new challenges is one of the most important things a manager can do. As you think about ways to encourage the leadership skills in your staff, consider the following: Meet with your staff regularly: One-on-one meetings provide an opportunity to get to know each other, talk about your employee’s work, share feedback, ask questions, and mentor. This is a critical part of being a supportive manager and encouraging leadership. Help staff think…

Guest Blogger

Beyond Cold Hard Cash: What Motivates Us?

What motives us to do our jobs? Yes, we need to earn money, but that’s only one reason out of many. The good news about library staff is that a lot of us work in libraries because we love libraries. Our passion and enthusiasm for the place is a huge jump-start for motivating staff and keeping up morale. Not every industry starts with a bottom line like that. Library staff often say: They love helping people They love being around all those books and other materials They want to be useful They love to collaborate They love the variety of things they get to do They want to be respected and recognized They want to keep learning Anything that you can do to define, encourage and offer opportunities in these areas will help your staff feel motivated. Thank you’s should be offered freely and often. It’s important to everyone to…

Guest Blogger

Is Youth Services (Still) the Stepchild of the Library?

It is likely you have heard this phrase, or some variation, expressed in your library, during a conference, or in any number of librarian networking situations. Or maybe you were the one to utter such a phrase? The real question is, “What can you do to get more support from managers and boards and even patrons?” I don’t have a magic solution (does anyone?), but here are some ideas and resources that might work for you. Create a vision for youth services in your library. Where do you want youth services to be in 5 years? 10 years? 1 year? I’m personally a fan of kicking this off with a brainstorming session where no idea is too big. Use your brainstorming notes and your vision to… Set goals. Don’t discard your lofty, pie in the sky, ideas, but make sure your goals are attainable and measurable. Even though as librarians…

Guest Blogger

Be a Great Boss — A Book Review

Would you spend $52 bucks and 52 hours over the course of a year to become a great boss? That’s just one hour and one buck a week! You can do it with ALA’s Be a Great Boss: One Year to Success by Catherine Hakala-Ausperk. An important thing to know before you order your copy, though, is that it’s not a textbook–it’s a workbook. You’ll end up putting aside an hour a week  (I blocked it out on my calendar to make sure) to stop, read a short chapter, think about what you’ve read, apply it to your own Library and department, and write down your thoughts. It’s tailored to the library world and it’s suitable for brand new managers all the way to seasoned managers. The author is a 25-year public library veteran and conference presenter who writes with great insight and a clear, conversational style: “Within these pages…

Guest Blogger

The Accidental Manager

I’m an accidental manager. I supervise a children’s department at a public library. You might be one to; most of us in this position are here by…accident.  If you’re like me, your focus in library school was on whether you wanted to be a school, children’s, or teen librarian rather than whether you saw yourself managing a department. But here we are. The bad news is that we might not have the management training that could be an important resource. The good news is that our librarian skills can help us successfully manage a children’s department. Listening Well We can transfer a lot of what we know about the reference interview into the management of staff. A lot of what I do is listen to my staff. My door is open 98% of the time and I encourage them to pop in. And they do–with complaints, ideas, brainstorms and concerns….

Guest Blogger

Confessions of a Semi-Reluctant Supervisor

I love my job. Really, I do. As a manager in a mid-size public library system, my days are busy and full of variety, but I must confess that the most challenging – even daunting – part of my job is supervising! I have a great group of creative, hard-working, and talented people that report to me, but, let’s face it, they are human (me, too). There are days when I feel like an amateur psychologist, and I often use my commute time wrestling with how best to handle some issue. After four years in this position, I’m certainly not an expert, but here are a few things I’ve learned: Focus on what’s important. Always keeping the library’s mission foremost in my mind helps me make better decisions, but it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in the midst of juggling staff concerns, personality conflicts, complaints,…