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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Blogger Managing Childrens Services Committee, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 8 of 8
1. Develop Management Skills without Supervising

I always knew I wanted to manage, but the traditional road to management can be difficult for youth services librarians. Storytime management does not count in the minds of many administrators so how else is one to gain the experience and skills needed to get that management position? I feel fortunate to have had varied opportunities in the youth services field and supervisors and co-workers who were more than happy to help me in my journey to rule the world. Er, um, enter management. Now, as a Coordinator, where I only supervise one person, I realize there is so much more to management than being a boss. Here are some ways to develop non-supervisory skills (though, let’s be honest, they totally apply to supervising) which just may help you explore the world of management, which often excludes supervising actual people (but possibly robots). .


Collection Development

We all have collections and they all need to be managed. Scheduled weeding and selecting are important which utilizes organization and time management skills. An understanding of your community is extremely important in collection development and in leadership roles. If you are looking to gain some management skills, start in the stacks.


Idea Nurturing

Support co-workers when they have great ideas. If you are already a supervisor be sure to read more about your role in this here. For those who are not supervisors, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities by encouraging others to bring forth great ideas and supporting them in bringing those ideas to fruition. You are not solely responsible for idea creation as a manager. In fact, you will likely be a better manager if your skills lie less in idea generating and more in idea supporting.


Project Management

Next time your supervisor asks for volunteers to lead a project, speak up. Even if the project is not your first choice, or something you would normally enjoy. Effective managers are not afraid to do the less desirable tasks and projects. The library cannot run on robots, glitter and unicorns all the time. We have to have safety training and attend meetings and join committees about things we may consider as boring as dust. But these trainings and committees are important to keep the library running smoothly and if you show your willingness to contribute, and put forth your best effort, people will take note of your leadership qualities.


Committee Service

Whether you serve on an ALSC committee or a local committee, you can gain valuable project management experience through your service. If you work hard and demonstrate your leadership skills while serving on committees you may have an opportunity to be Chair of a committee. Then, you might want to read up on facilitating meetings and hone your organization and communication skills.



Mentorship is an excellent way to sharpen management skills without direct supervision. With your mentee you will develop goals and work towards those goals together over the course of a year. This same process occurs between supervisor and employee. Plus, the ALSC Mentor program always needs more mentors. Read more about the program here.


What did I miss? What are other non-traditional management roles?


Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.

The post Develop Management Skills without Supervising appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Making Your Schedule Work for You in the New Year

We’re all in the same boat it seems—looming piles of professional reading that you’ll get to “someday,” schedules to create for staff and for upcoming programs—that sometimes it feels like there is too much to get done and not enough of you to go around!

Over the past decade in Children’s Services, especially when I’ve been managing a branch or a citywide program, I have definitely felt this way. So I would like to share two quick tips that I’ve found to be really helpful when I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill going too fast that I can’t get off.

  1. The To Do List vs. Scheduling Appointments (spoiler alert—I’m pro scheduling appointments)
    We all have a to-do list, right? And there is always that one thing (or more than one thing) that somehow seems to always be on the list week after week. As much as I love procrastination, and sometimes the anxiety it gives me gets me over the hump of getting started, this is not a great way to live day to day. While I still have a small to-do list that consists of small, easily completed tasks or reminders, I’ve started scheduling appointments for the things I noticed I was putting off over and over. Professional reading?  There is an appointment on my calendar for 30 minutes of professional reading twice a week. This blog post?  I scheduled an appointment to write it. By creating an appointment instead of just having it on an open-ended to-do list, I’ve carved out a time I’m committed to it. Give it a try on something you are putting off, and let me know in the comments how it worked for you.
  1. Using Your Energy to Your Advantage (i.e., set yourself up to win)
    What does your energy level look like during the day? What time of day are you most productive? What times of day is it easier or harder for you to focus?  For myself, I find that I’m most able to tackle tasks that require mental focus and creativity early in the day. If I need to write a blog post, if I need to create a program outline, etc., I create an appointment for myself between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. By the end of the day—by say 3:00 p.m.-ish—I find that it’s harder for me to focus; something that would take me 20 minutes at 9:00 a.m. takes well over an hour in the afternoon. So I try to arrange my day with focused tasks that require creativity early in the day. That book-shifting project?  That’s definitely going to happen after 3:00 p.m., AND then there is the likelihood of kids and teens who want to help me. (Plus that is something I can easily go back to after being interrupted for homework help or finding just the right science project book). What about in your library?  When are your busy hours?  Early storytimes?  Afterschool hours?  When have you noticed that there is a block of uninterrupted time?  When are you more likely to be busy answering questions and finding books?  Try tracking the ebb and flow of your time for one week and see if you can identify patterns.

Those are two of the things I’ve learned over the years to help me not only be more productive, but that also help keep me sane when things get really busy. If you are interested in more tips from your ALSC colleagues, check out the upcoming webinars from the members of ALSC’s Managing Children’s Services Committee, with topics like Communication, Scheduling, Managing Financials, and Supervising: www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/profdevelopment/alscweb/webinars.

Rachel Fryd

Image courtesy of the author.

Rachel Fryd is the Young Adult Materials Selector at the Free Library of Philadelphia. In the past she has managed citywide programs and partnerships as the Youth Services Coordinator and managed a neighborhood library in West Philadelphia. She is currently a member of ALSC’s Managing Children’s Services Committee as well as YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee. She loves cheese, farmers markets, and pastries but hates broccoli.

The post Making Your Schedule Work for You in the New Year appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Advocacy? Me?

At a recent state library association conference, I attended a great session on Everyday Advocacy. What’s that, you ask? I wondered the same thing myself before the presentation, and just 45 minutes later, I left feeling a little more knowledgeable, and a little more confident.

Child with books

Image from Everyday Advocacy website

Everyday Advocacy is the idea that we are all advocates for our profession, our libraries, and ourselves each and every day. It’s also an ALSC initiative working to equip us with the tools we need to be everyday advocates. As we build relationships, strengthen our communities, and connect with families, sometimes it’s hard to know how to talk about those things in ways that get attention. How can we empower ourselves, our colleagues, and our staff to feel prepared to engage in advocacy?

One of the big take-aways from the session I attended was crafting your elevator speech. We’re all probably familiar with the idea of an elevator speech:  a very quick summary of what you do and why it’s important. But here’s the key: when you talk about what you do, it’s not a list of job duties like “storytime, collection development, and the Summer Library Program.” You want to talk about how you actively impact a particular group and the larger result. So the phrase “I work with kids and families at the library” becomes “I help kids and families unpack their curiosity at the library so that the kids can go out and change our world for the better” (example from ALSC Everyday Advocacy website).

The Everyday Advocacy website provides information and tools to equip us to engage in advocating for ourselves and our communities. As you take a look, keep in mind that your behavior can have a powerful ripple effect. When we engage in advocacy, we’re modeling to our staff and colleagues, and hopefully empowering them to engage in some advocacy as well. Managers, remember that an important part of the supervisory role includes mentoring and enabling staff to become strong leaders themselves. When we say that advocacy is all about relationships, it’s not limited to relationships outside the librarian community! It’s also those we cultivate with our staff and peers. Take a look, feel empowered, and spread the word about the impact you’re having on your community every day.

Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser is a Youth Services Librarian at the La Crosse Public Library in La Crosse, WI and is a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee.

The post Advocacy? Me? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. We Don’t Need to be Superheroes!

As we become seasoned youth services librarians, it’s natural for our professional confidence and expertise around things like child development, children’s books, and summer learning to grow. At some point, we may feel like we’ve arrived! We are now ready to dole out ALL the brilliant advice! (I don’t know about you, but I can be an insufferable advice-giver. Just ask my family!)

A Deficits-Based Approach

And isn’t advice-giving sort of built into our jobs as librarians? When we work on the reference desk or the public service floor, we are there under the assumption that people will have problems for us to fix. Small problems (not finding the right book) and monumental problems (food and housing insecurity among a family of regulars) cross our paths daily. No fear! We have tools in our Super Librarian belts and resources to share!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

But if we position ourselves as superheroes, doesn’t it follow that we assume library users are victims who need saving? Despite our best intentions, this deficits-based assumption can subtly suggest to families that we do not value their inherent worth and potential.

When organizations act as experts on resolving the problems of people, we deny and limit those particular individuals facing the problem the opportunity to explore what strengths and capacities they might have in the process of exploring, participating, taking control and learning (Herman-Stahl & Petersen, 1996).

 A New, Strengths-Based Approach

Applying a strengths-based approach to customer service can have powerful outcomes for you and your library. A strengths-based approach:

  • Assumes that all people have strengths, expertise, and potential
  • Promotes a relationship of trust between library staff and customers
  • Allows us to learn side-by-side with our customers
  • Takes the pressure off us to be experts
  • Recognizes that dominate cultural and organizational assumptions can limit the growth of individuals, families and communities

So, how might youth services librarians apply this strengths-based approach? The most important first step is simple in concept and enormously challenging in practice—we can change our attitudes and assumptions about the families in our libraries. This takes practice, and you might have to fake it to make it at first. But gradually, applying strengths-based assumptions will start to become more natural… and you may even find yourself feeling more optimistic about working in public service.

Here are some familiar library scenarios with examples of how applying strengths-based assumptions might positively change our interactions with families:

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

A mother texts on her phone while her two young kids run around the library.

  • Deficits-based assumption: This is an inattentive parent who needs to be informed of our rules surrounding unsupervised children.
  • Strengths-based assumption: This mother is a competent person who knows more than I do about her children. There may be complicated reasons behind her decision to use her phone rather than pay close attention to her children in this moment. How can we partner with this parent to make sure her children are safe in the library?

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

A parent insists that his son, a reluctant reader, must read high level books and stay away from graphic novels and “easy books”.

  • Deficits-based assumption: This parent doesn’t understand the importance of reading motivation and only cares about getting his child into the best university.
  • Strengths-based assumption: This father loves his son and wants the best for him. There may be cultural or other factors influencing his parenting decisions and beliefs. How can we have a non-judgmental conversation with this father starting with the assumption that he is the expert when it comes to his family’s well-being?

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

During Stay & Play, a mother mentions she’s worried that her 18-month-old isn’t playing well with other kids.

  • Deficits-based assumption: This parent doesn’t know much about child development, so she would benefit from learning about parallel play and being assured that her that her child’s behavior is normal.
  • Strengths-based assumption: Whether or not this parent is familiar with child development theory, she is an expert when it comes to her child. Instead of positioning ourselves as authorities on child development, how can we use this interaction with the parent to build a partnership around the child? What open-ended questions can we ask to draw out the parent’s expertise before offering advice?


This strengths-based approach can also be a powerful tool for youth services managers to use when working with staff. Staff members who feel acknowledged, valued, and heard will be more likely to extend the same courtesy to the public!


Madeline Walton-Hadlock is the Early Education Manager at the San José Public Library and a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee. You can reach her at [email protected] 

The post We Don’t Need to be Superheroes! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Apps, Online Tools, and More!

Being a children’s librarian has to be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs a person could have, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! Balancing multiple responsibilities, tight scheduling, and having to constantly be “on” are just a few of the everyday challenges. Luckily, for us, there are tools out there to help us along the way. I posed the question to the ALSC Listserv “What are your favorite apps or online tools that help you stay organized, focused and energized?”

Here are some of the ways youth service staff are using technology to their benefit.


Google Keep is a post-it style system for checklists and notes. Share across your devices or with others. See real time progress on collaborative checklists or setup location reminder notifications.

30/30 is a task management system with a built in timer that tells you when to move on to your next task. The task list is controlled completely by gestures, and is the recipient of many awards and positive reviews.


Professional Development:

Many people use Evernote for note taking, but it can also be used for much more. Save program resources and collection development resources, tweets, bookmarks and more!

Pocket  allows you to store articles, videos or anything else to read at a later date. Save directly from your browser or from apps and access anytime, even without internet.



Headspace is a meditation app that provides personal training for your mind. Learn the basics of meditation and participate in guided or unguided exercises ranging from 2 minutes to one hour.

Pocket Yoga  lets you take your yoga instructor with you anywhere you go! Choose between different practices, different durations and different difficulty levels.



Canva  allows anyone to create visually appealing graphics. Flyers, social media posts, ads, and even presentations can be created by dragging and dropping images and fonts. Canva for Work is coming soon.

Finally, this one isn’t available yet but I know it will be worth the wait!

The Mother Goose on the Loose Online Construction Kit (OCK) is a free cloud- based tool developed by Mother Goose on the Loose, LLC that is designed to make planning storytimes easy by utilizing three big databases. One database aggregates nursery rhymes information such as:  lyrics, instructions, pictures, relevant illustrations, etc. The second database stores titles and bibliographic information of quality children’s books. The third database consists of developmental tips that can be used to explain the value and purpose of certain activities being done with children. There is also a wizard friend who will help users combine information from all of the databases mentioned above to generate either a barebones outline or a fully-fledged script with lyrics and instructions to help make planning high-quality programs for young children a breeze. OCK is still in beta testing, and anyone  who is interested can contact [email protected]

We hope these tips will help you further the amazing work you are already doing!

The post Apps, Online Tools, and More! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Managing the Youth Collection: Weed to Thrive

Like a garden, a collection needs to be weeded regularly in order to thrive. Many weeds are beautiful, but left to their own devices they will take over a garden and drown out the things you are actually trying to grow. A library is the same. We must weed out grubby and unwanted items to make room for popular titles, and attractive copies of classics, and other materials to round out our collections.

Just a few grubby items from juvenile fiction

Just a few grubby items from juvenile fiction

When I began in my current library, the collection needed to be weeded badly. Popular items were falling apart, and other items (including a vintage 1983 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles chapter book, which I failed to take a picture of!!) had been sitting so long that glue dust flew from the binding when opened. By the time I finished Juvenile Fiction (chapter books), more than 1500 items were discarded or replaced. Look how pretty the stacks look now!

juvenile shelves post weeding

Do not put off weeding until you are in this situation! Sit down right now and make a weeding plan. Decide the order in which collections will be addressed, and/or assign collections to staff members to focus on.  Determine the criteria you will use for weeding, and how you and staff will regularly fit time into your schedules for this important task. Look at your budget to determine how much money can be allocated to replacing shabby copies, or filling gaps in series and subjects.

Revamped Series Section

Revamped Series Section

If you have a large weeding project like mine, make a plan for how you plan to use the additional shelf space- displays? special pull out collections? a passive program in the stacks? -to get jazzed about the possibly daunting task before you. Motivate yourself and your staff by keeping track of circulation statistics and taking before and after pictures.


Go forth and weed!


Consider these sources for more on weeding:


“Why We Weed” from Awful Library Books.


-The CREW method (pages 69-70 are specific to youth collections) may be especially helpful if you are new to weeding. Keep in mind, however, that depending on your community and the use of your collections, the number of years you allow an item to sit on the shelf may vary. In my library, most juvenile fiction items sitting for more than one year need to be reviewed, as this is a high circulating collection. They may be put on display, or find themselves in the book sale.


Weeding Library Collections: A Selected Annotated Bibliography for Library Collection Evaluation from the American Library Association


Today’s blog post was written by Kendra Jones, a Children’s Librarian at the Tacoma Public Library in Tacoma, WA on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

The post Managing the Youth Collection: Weed to Thrive appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Communication: the Spine of Supervision

If you are like most people in middle management, the word “supervisor” makes you break into a cold sweat. Your former lunch buddies are now your employees, and you are “the boss.” In fact, things might be feeling down right awkward as you transition into a supervisory role! But fear not – there are a few things that you can do to gain the respect of your colleagues and supervise with a smile (most of the time!) on your face:

1. Take a Personality Test

No really. See if you can find a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test training in your area, either in person or online. Knowing where you – and your staff – fall on the 16 personality type scale (are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you use your senses or intuition for decision making? Are you a thinker or a feeler?) -can help immensely when it comes to supervising and decision making.

2. Let Your Staff Evaluate You

This one sounds scary, but I find it to be very useful –it helps show staff that you are serious about not just changing their behaviors, for instance, but your own as well. Ask staff to list three things they consider a strength of yours, and one area that they think could use some more attention or focus. For example, maybe you think you are great at having meetings – until someone points out that the last time you held a department meeting was six months ago! Scheduling regular times to meet and talk with staff helps keep communication flowing, and it clears any mis-communication up before it turns into a game of “telephone” throughout the department

3. Go Through Job Descriptions and Duties

Often, people inherit job duties and routines based upon the holes or needs of a department, or from a previous supervisor. But it can make the department stronger in the long run if you ask your staff to write down the following for you:

  • What projects, programs, services are they currently working on or responsible for?
  • Are they responsible for any areas of collection development?
  • What are three things that they like about the department?
  • What are three things that they would change about the department?
  • Is there an area of their job that, if possible, they would like to change or not be responsible for? What would they like to work on or try that they aren’t currently doing?

Once you gather these statements from your staff , take the time to read and reflect on them. Are there changes that can be made? Perhaps someone has been in charge of pre-school story time for years, and is looking for a change. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the staff you have. As managers and supervisors, we can’t make everyone happy, but your staff can tell when you are truly listening and responding to their ideas and requests. Even if you can’t make a change directly or immediately, taking the time to meet one on one with staff members to discuss their ideas and visions for the department can help build a community of trust with a strong foundation of communication.

Finally, remember this: No matter how much communication and assessment you do as a supervisor, there will be days when being fair isn’t the same as being popular. But being fair will gain you the respect of your staff, which is a far greater benefit to have.


Lisa Gangemi Kropp is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, and the First Steps early learning columnist for School Library Journal

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8. ‘Children’s Services Librarians’ or ‘Community Facilitators’?

I was lucky enough to land my dream job four months after completing my library science degree. I had dreamed of being a children’s librarian since I was five years old and received my very own library card. I was thrilled to announce to the world that I was going to be the new “Children’s Services Coordinator” at my local library! I got a lot of questions from loved ones: “Wait – but didn’t you go to school to be the librarian?”

In my early tenure, I assumed this title was chosen to encompass all that I was expected to do in the library, in addition to providing the standard library services to children (Ex: managing staff schedules, attending county meetings as a library representative, collection management, etc.) I soon realized, though, that the title of “Coordinator” best represented what all of these tasks quickly enabled me to do: make connections between patrons and needed community resources.

Some examples of resources that I regularly refer both patrons and other agencies to include: various contacts in the school system, homeschooling groups, public health offices, local specialty businesses, crisis pregnancy center, food banks, and environmental agencies.

While I will admit that all of our communities and libraries are unique in the best manners to become effective community facilitators, here are some of my own tips for children’s services librarians for creating or strengthening community relationships that will ultimately better serve patrons.

1. Become an Engaged Community Member

This is probably something that you are already doing as part of your duties as a librarian. If not, it’s easy to plug in to your community quickly! Volunteer at community events as a library representative, join local committees, and make a point to follow local newspaper, radio, community events, and relevant Facebook groups.

2. Vocalize Struggles

After a few months on the job, I had become extremely frustrated at many failed attempts to make a connection in our school system’s central office. I finally mentioned this in my department recap in a board meeting, not laying blame on any one party, and one of our board members knew so-and-so who worked there and could stop in and put in a good word for the library. This simple act has opened so many doors for partnerships between our library system and the school system. Sharing what I thought of as my “failure” has led to years of invaluable collaborations. Be sure, though, when vocalizing struggles to always use a positive approach. Bashing another community member or group is never going to get you a good end result!

3. Make Yourself Available to Patrons

I believe that my most important facilitating work has come about during regular programs in our Children’s Department. We host a twice monthly early literacy play program, in which I do about 10 minutes of hands-on, focused program, and the rest of the hour is spent playing and socializing with our patrons. The other program in which I more often than not get to wear my facilitator hat is our twice monthly Lego Club. In this program, I set the kids up with all of their gear, give a challenge, then again, have the rest of the hour to socialize with patrons. In each of these situations, I receive many community type “reference” questions. I believe that I get these questions more often in these programs because the patrons are more comfortable approaching me while I’m in the program rather than in my office. I’ve also learned much about our community gatherings and opportunities in these programs while sharing information with patrons, which I very much believe is making me a better librarian.

4. Put Your Connections into Action

By becoming a more informed librarian/citizen, you will be able to quickly connect families in your library to other needed/wanted services. Obviously, setting up services for families is outside the scope of our role as librarians, but connecting patrons into the community is a valuable service that we can easily provide.

Why Work to Become a Community Facilitator?

Serving as a community facilitator will only strengthen your relationship and foster trust with patrons. It will also potentially open doors to future collaborations and prove commitment of the library to the community as a whole.

What are your thoughts on serving your community as a ‘facilitator’? What practices do you employ to help you better engage with your community?


Today’s blog post was written by Amanda Yother, the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville, TN on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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