Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.
Last week I talked about presenting yourself as a professional. This week, the topic is:
Speaking the Language
When YA librarians talk about teen services they often--naturally enough--focus on the teens. They are likely to describe programs and activities in terms of the benefits to teens. Talking about how much fun a program or service will be, or how it's the latest rage may be what's on the top of your mind, or that of your teens, but it's not necessarily what your library's director thinks is important. Generally, upper-level managers are more interested in big-picture issues. In YALSA's recent survey of members who are identified as supervisors or managers, several of the respondents commented that the upper-level administrators at their libraries want to hear about programs in terms of issues like community engagement, community health, collaboration, purpose, sustainability, partnerships, and return on investment (ROI).
When presenting a request to management for funds for teen programs or services, then, it is critical to frame the request in these terms. Think about, for example:
- What impacts will the program or service have on the community at large? (Will it engage teens and get them off the streets in those dangerous after-school hours? Will it affect the drop-out rate? Will it help teens get jobs?)
- What community partnerships can you bring into the program or service?
- What developmental assets'® will this program or service meet?
- How will the program or service be paid for, and how will you sustain that over time?
- How will the program or service impact the rest of the library? (Focus on the positive ways it will affect the library: increases in circulation and attendance, for example.)
- Will the time, money, and energy spent on the program or service be worth it to the library and the community?
When you come up with a new idea for a teen program or service, it should not be something that, as one manager said, "is thrust upon the library director to make the workload more difficult." The teen librarian should understand the director's vision for the library, and be able to demonstrate how the new service or program will fit into and help fulfill that vision.
In order to accomplish that, you may have to do some homework. Find out what matters to your director, and think of ways to show that the programs and services you want to offer will help. Know your library's strategic mission and goals, and be prepared to demonstrate how teen services fit into those goals.
Speaking the language doesn't have to mean learning a whole new set of jargon, but it does mean being aware of the issues and concerns of management, and addressing those in your proposal.
Sometimes thinking beyond teen services can be the best way to get more support for teen services.
Next week, we'll talk about collecting the data that you may need in order to present your case to management.
YALSA Past President