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.
In the first three weeks, I talked about presenting yourself as a professional, about speaking the language, and about collecting data. This week I want to talk about a sometimes forgotten piece of the puzzle:
Sharing Information Up the Ladder
When YALSA surveyed members who were identified as library supervisors and managers, we asked them about best practices and success stories in increasing upper management buy-in for teen services. There were several recurring ideas:
- Publicize successful programs that succeed in engaging teens
- Have teens speak to library board/Foundation boards to share their love for the library
- Document reports with photos/videos from programs for teens
- Share teen comments in monthly narrative reports
- Share successful award-winning projects that have increased library usage by teens
- Share stories of how teen services develop youth and transform communities
- Tie teen services to youth development
What these comments have in common is the importance of letting upper-level administrators and board members know what you are doing, and why it’s important to the community.
Just because you are deeply involved in creating and presenting teen programs, don’t assume that everyone in the library knows what they are, and what they are accomplishing. So how can you make sure that the decision-makers know what you are doing and the difference it makes?
Tell them. Share that information up the chain of command. Here are a few ways you might do that:
- Does your library have a newsletter (either in-house or for the public)? Offer to write a regular column on teen services. In the column highlight teen programs and the developmental assets® they relate to.
- Don’t skimp on your monthly or quarterly reports. Include statistics, anecdotes, and comments to demonstrate the success of your programs and services.
- Send brief emails of success stories to your supervisor, his/her supervisor, and the library director. If you can share a positive comment from a community member, do it!
- Does your library have staff meetings? Offer to do a five-minute presentation on a successful teen program (and, again, tie it to developmental assets and community building, if possible)
- Offer to attend a library board, foundation, or Friends of the Library meeting to make a brief presentation on teen services. Again, share specific statistics, anecdotes, and comments, and tie it to youth development.
- Follow the templates that YALSA provides (under “Publicity Tools”) for Teen Read Week® and Teen Tech Week® and write up proclamations. Ask your director if you can submit the proclamations to the City Council or County Board of Supervisors for adoption. Personalize the proclamations with data about your library and your teens.
- Ask your manager if you can attend a City Council or County Board of Supervisors meeting and make a brief presentation about teen services during the open comments section of the meeting.
Whatever you do, keep communicating. Don’t keep the good news to yourself–share it, and make it interesting and appealing. Keep your messages short, and liven them up with photos, quotations, or simple infographics.
Next week, we’ll talk about using all the skills we’ve been talking about these past four weeks to make real changes in your library’s teen services.
YALSA Immediate Past President