Kindness for the Solo Librarian

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d8/Seeking_human_kindness.JPG/256px-Seeking_human_kindness.JPG

Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless.  Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter.  Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily.  It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need.  Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile.  In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though.  In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing.  (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RULE ONE.  Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind.  Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals.  I put my new year’s goal on a list every year.  When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list.  There is one goal that is on the list year after year.  Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal.  By the way,  the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.

I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established.  And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!

RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally.  Validate yourself as a professional.  You care about your library and the students you serve.  Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully.  There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that  resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them.   Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library.   Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome.  Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.

RULE THREE.  Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed.  For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily.  For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage.  You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.

RULE FOUR. Developing.  Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned.  Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish.  Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it.  Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals.  Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year.  I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point.  As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group.  I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals.  I can embrace these goals as developing.

KIND goals.  Those are my kind of goals.  Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens.  It is the same kind of library I like to foster.  The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is to start with the way we treat ourselves.  If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can  and will achieve.  Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.

District Days 101: Planning an Event with a Politician

By: Annie Schutte is Director of Libraries and Center for Inquiry at the Maret School in Washington, DC.

Libraries are doing amazing work in our communities, so don’t you want your elected officials to know about it? Your senators and representatives are your direct link to federal policies that determine library funding, and they’re more likely to support programs when they have first-hand knowledge of how they work for their (and your) constituents. The best way to educate your elected officials is to invite them to an event at your library (see: District Days 101: How to Get an Elected Official to Your Library).

Follow these eight easy steps, and you should be well on your way to hosting a successful event for your elected official, your patrons, and your library.

1. Start with a pre-existing event. You don’t need to create something special for your elected official. Pick an event you’re already doing that would give you an opportunity to show off a library program or educate your Congressperson about the type of work your library is doing. An example would be asking a Congressperson to participate in the culminating summer reading event at your library.

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Back to School: Learning About Your Community

A photo of The Toolbox hardware store by Tim GreenI think a lot about how libraries need find out the best ways to support the needs of specific communities. Often, we do that internally by talking about the teens and families that we know or that we think we know. We do that by going into the schools and talking to classrooms of teens and teachers. But, do we do that by really connecting with the community and finding out what their needs really are? I’m not so sure. Or, maybe I’m not sure we do it enough.

That’s why when I learned about the Community Tool Box I thought, “Wow this is amazing.” And, “This really gives me some good information about how to learn about the community from the community.” My favorite part of the website is the section labeled “Learn a Skill.” For one thing I really like the phrase “Learn a Skill,” It sounds positive and encouraging. But, more than that, the content is incredibly useful.
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Leaving the Nest

Lately, my two older twin sisters have been busy packing their entire lives into boxes and suitcases. Deciding what to take, what to leave, what to completely toss. They’ve purchased twin XL sheets and comforters, coffee pots, laptop ports and keyboards. This can only mean one thing: college. And that’s exactly what it is; in just one week’s time, my sisters will be leaving the only life they’ve ever known to begin a new one.

Right now, the stress the next few months will bring on hasn’t sunk in yet. The tests and crammed study sessions are simply a far off worry at this point. Right now, they are much more eager beavers than worried warts. For good reason, too. For the first time in their lives, they won’t have our parents there every day prodding and questioning at the dinner table. They will be surrounded by people their age 24-7. They will be able to make their own decisions on their own schedule. It is a whole new chapter for them.

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ALA Annual 2014: Great Graphic Novels For Teens

GGNFT-ThomasTraci

Among the many selection and award committees choosing books at ALA Annual in Las Vegas this year, Traci Glass and I (pictured) served on Great Graphic Novels For Teens June 28-29 and put together this Q&A to give people an idea of what selection committees are like.

Rather than come up with our own questions, I asked some of my library’s Teen Center residents to prompt us. As it turns out, they didn’t know quite what to ask. I rephrased the task: “Imagine I just told you I was one of eleven people to vote on the Oscars. What would you want to know?” The following questions were rapidly delivered.

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Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Ways to Prioritize Your Work

If you’re working with teens in a library – any kind of library — you should be a leader. Being a leader doesn’t have to mean you’re the boss – or that you ever want to be the boss, but it takes intentionality and may mean thinking about your role in serving teens a bit differently. Level Up Your Leadership Skills is a regular feature on leadership topics for staff working with teens.

We all have a lot on our plates. Working the desk, doing outreach and working directly with teens are all important parts of our work. Depending on our role, we may not have direct control over our schedule or exactly how we manage our own time.

But we often have control over how we spend at least some of our time — so how can we decide what to prioritize within the many possible tasks we could be doing or new projects we could be starting?

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YALSA NEEDS YOU – for our Award & Selection Committees! Volunteer Form Deadline is October 1st!

Happy Summer! Hope you are all surviving and thriving as your summer reading programs come to an end this year. Don’t forget to look toward autumn, as YALSA’s Fall Appointments season approaches!

As President-Elect, I’ll be making appointments to the following YALSA committees and taskforces:

*Please note that the PPYA Committee is an all-virtual committee for the coming year. YALSA members with book selection and evaluation experience and who are comfortable working in an online environment with tools like ALA Connect, Google Docs, Skype, etc. should put their names forward for consideration.

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YALSA Policy Update from Annual 2014

Greetings, all! For those of you who traveled to Annual, I’m hoping you’ve recovered from the high temperatures, the hot winds, the pervasive smoke, and the ding-ding-ding of casino machines. If you didn’t travel to Las Vegas, just remember the YA Symposium is coming up in November, and Austin is not a desert, presents more opportunities to mingle with colleagues passionate about youth services, and doesn’t require as much walking around in a convention center. Plus, migas!

I wanted to call your attention to a couple of significant policies that will impact your work as committee members and leaders. At Annual 2014, the Board confirmed an update to the YALSA Social Media Policy, and adopted an Ethical Behavior Policy which sets expectations for YALSA committee members and leaders, as well as providing information about what those leaders and members can expect from YALSA. Both documents recognize the increasing impact social media has on both professional identity and networking, and helps set standards which ensure the integrity and enjoyment of all the work both members and YALSA perform. Continue reading

From YALSA’s Board Meetings at ALA Annual

The YALSA Board had an extremely full agenda for its meetings during the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.  Various board members presented items for action and discussion, including a topic on a new national celebration of teen services in libraries.

Coming in at Item #26 on the agenda, Board Director Jennifer Korn proposed that Celebrate Teen Services Day take place during National Library Week in place of Celebrate Teen Literature Day.  Why the change?  As you can see in the rationale portion of the board document, YALSA currently celebrates particular facets of teen services through Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week.   What’s missing is a celebration of the overarching service area – serving teens in libraries.

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