Most of us are actively creating and supporting ways for young people to connect, create and collaborate with each other but are we doing it in our own work? This is a series of three posts about these three Cs in our work — this one focuses on connecting with our colleagues in the library.

For the staff that I work with today in our library system, collaboration and co-creation are critical and happen every day. We have many libraries that are co-managed and nearly all of our work in Youth Services, which I manage, is done by workgroups or small project teams. Even if you’re the sole project manager on a small pilot project, you still are in constant communication with your colleagues who are testing your form or trying a program you came up with.

This type of work is harder for some us than others – but in a big system, it’s absolutely critical – we don’t have the capacity for all of our libraries to be doing 41 completely different things – we have to share what’s working and let our colleagues take our good idea and make it even better.

Something we’ve gotten better at in our system – but still have room for improvement – is how we keep youth services staff connected to one another in a large system that continues to experience budget reductions. We’re having more online meetings and have gotten selective about the staff development or trainings that we offer. We support a number of workgroups – opportunities to connect with colleagues around a meaningful project or assignment. At the beginning of this year we launched an Early Literacy Traveling Team – they are working with a few libraries at a time – lending their expertise and building capacity in the staff and libraries they work with.

We’re just talking about a way of getting more cohorts in our work – smaller groups with something in common that meet together on a regular basis – to meet regularly. We’re looking at a couple of models – peer-coaching, appreciative inquiry, etc. We’ve been doing more talking than acting on this, so I’m excited about finally getting a few models off the ground in 2013.

What are the many ways you are collaborating with your colleagues?

About Maureen Hartman

I am the Division Manager for Strategic Services at the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota and a former Board member for YALSA.

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