There were three people on this panel. Kathleen, Selma and Dale. Kathleen asked about who is already a supervisor, and most of the room raised hands.
Dale started speaking. Selma also introduced herself, and she supervises quite a few folks. Kathleen does HR for the Burlington County Library System.
Dale read the first scenario:
A staff member is habitually late but never takes his breaks. The library is getting more work out of him by doing this. Other staff members are complaining. What do you do?
Selma: She tries to be flexible with staff. If she is taken advantage of, she sets a hard line. For her, the public comes first. Does the person have a morning desk shift? Her strategy is to talk to the person and find out what is going on. If it is a desk shift, that really isn't negotiable. If the person has to drop off kids, that is tough, but still take in consideration for other people on the team. They would problem solve as a team. Someone might want a desk shift if they are up early. An employee once was chronically late, but this person kept pushing her. And disciplinary action can happen.
Also, look at your work policy.
Kathleen: She agrees. Talk to the employee. Make sure you are both on the same page. We can't assume people know. Talk to the person and see if a different start time could happen. Give them 3 months. This makes sure there is a goal set. Put the first conversation in writing.
Lateness is tough. If you have to constantly have a conversation, it's time to counsel and possibly reprimand. Some people might not think 9 am at the desk means "on the dot." But customers come to the library "on the dot."
Someone asked, what if someone shows up to the desk late and makes someone else late? Kathleen reiterated still talking to the person. You have to be firm and say "it's not negotiable" especially if you can't move the person to another shift. Selma agrees with this, as it negatively impacts another member of the team.
Instead of saying, "I have been told," say "I have observed."
Your employee has a daughter who plays soccer. This employee frequently asks other staff to cover her evening shifts. Other staff have, but are they getting fed up?
Kathleen: This employee is getting stuff covered, so that is fine. If we allow people to switch, there shouldn't be a problem.
Selma: She would observe people, but can you tell if they are bothered? She might privately take the person aside who is taking the shifts. If necessary, she will intervene. Do you try to problem solve? There should be a balance.
One of the librarians does not agree with the weeding policy. She checks out stuff to herself that otherwise would be discarded. Confronted, and says she is doing good.
Selma: She asks about policies during interviews. If something is passed that you don't like, how do you handle it? Directors are hired to make policies, and they have to be enforced even if you don't agree. Just because it's your opinion, doesn't mean it's ok to not be on board.
Kathleen: That person is being insubordinate. She has worked for three library systems. She was told that there is the right way, the wrong way and the library way. The library way will have 25 extra steps. We always try to find a solution to make everyone happy. No director sits in an office and says, "I'm going to weed these or I'm going to do this." Every decision comes with careful thinking. Insubordination is a choice, where you know you should've done something one way, and you CHOSE to do it another. That has a higher price.
A member of the public has taken a liking to a librarian and has engaged in a lot of chit chat. Staff are complaining that the librarian is spending too much time socializing.
Kathleen: You need to say to the person, is this bothering you? It's a hard call when it's a member of the public, and sometimes the member needs to be addressed. This is hard because we are "captured audiences." Librarians aren't leaving the library. Be conscience of young people or teens to work in your library, because they might not be able to address a member.
Selma: This could be sexual harassment, and that should be addressed. If the staff member is not comfortable, the member needs to know that the behavior won't be tolerated. You need to protect your employees. Employees also need to be available for other people to ask them questions, so one patron shouldn't be taking all of their time.
A good offense is your best defense. We want all staff to feel part of this service, and paraprofessionals rarely get training in this service.
Reader’s Advisory is a conversation. We suggest and don’t recommend. It’s not about our list, but their needs.
We always should sugget more than one title.
It’s a judgment-free zone. We need to keep our opinions to ourselves. There is no right answer, because this isn’t reference.
Questions to Get You Started:
Tell me about the a book you enjoyed
Tell me about a book you hated
Who are your favorite atuhors?
What kind of book are you in the mood for? Do you like books with ___or do you prefer ___?
Tell me about a TV show or movide you enjoyed…
You also need to consider: Pacing, Mood, Genre, Format
Also important is to know what you know...and what you don’t know, too! One woman talked about how she didn’t read romance, but her co-worker did. It’s important to know who knows what on your staff. We love reading, so it's important to find out who knows what they know.
How to Read a Book in 5 Minutes: (great for front desk staff)
Jacket Blurbs (who wrote these? This can tell you about quality)
Font Size (how much white space? Is it physically readable?)
Read a few pages (read the first chapter if you can)
Identify appeal characteristics (does it capture your audience? Fast paced or leisurely paced?)
Writing style (is it lush or with short sentences?)
How to Listen to a Book in 5 Minutes?:
Length (some are over 20 hours)
Listen to a few tracks
Identify appeal characteristics
Extras: Sound affects? Music?
@ Your Fingertips:
- Printable tips of popular authors at the front desk
- Also Writing As (AKA)
- Best bets or Top 5 Go-To Books
- Using the Catalog to Your Advantage (make sure your staff know what is not obvious, including the nuances of your OPAC)
Websites and Resources for Training: (easy to Google)
Based on the Book
Juvenile Sequels and Series (great for kids/teens who don't want to wait)
Booklist Online (archives its book reviews by author and title)
Lit Lovers (great for book group members and they can get discussion guides)
Fiction-L Booklists (very specific, look by setting, character, etc. Worth subscribing!)
Which Book (website where you can use sliders for appeal factors. Slow or fast-paced, etc. Gives an ideas of fun books to read. Very fun!)
Books that were popular a few years ago, might not be. It's difficult, but keep notes of things you are seeing. Journals, social media, other staff, and book recommendation databases (NoveList) are great resources.
Pen and Paper (old fashion, but still popular
Start a Blog
This was a panel of folks who talked about engaging with your part-time staff and how to handle turnovers. And, how do ywe keep them once they start?
Kate started speaking. She was a PT person when she started.
First, we had to recognize who are your PT staff. This could be as simple as learning their names. At her library, they have a lot of student workers, who change semester to semester. We never say, “oh, our student worker who comes in in the morning.” Know their names.
Second, understand their job duties. Do they handle a hectic desk? Are they learning new things? What kind of value do they bring? She said some of her PT staff serve as translators, and they go above and beyond to help.
Third, reward. Thank and acknowledge PT staff. Thank them for interactions, or do something more tangible. Have a gathering.
Fourth, be aware of language. “They are only part time” should never be used. There shouldn’t be any differentiation. It can create a distance between your staff and the larger institution. Many times, your PT staff are patron facing, so they know your communities better. They know the “mood” on the floor. She would spend time with supervisors to talk about ideas, patterns noticing, and what is going on.
Firth, encourage. Let them take on special projects. It develops a new investment in their position. It can also free up time for FT people. Also, utilize the strengths of PT staff. It creates a great environment and benefits everyone.
All of this comes down to being open and engaging.
Sara was next. She talked about being benefits of being a PT employee. She said it allowed for her schedule to be varied. Hours could be moved around for other responsibilities.
She also didn’t have to worry about sick days or vacation days. Shift swaps worked and using PTO didn’t apply.
She was allowed “off site” hours for greater productivity. She could do some things at home or away from the library. She had great opportunities to try new things. PT staff are often used as a “test run” for new projects and positions.
She could accept different jobs and had flexibility.
Kate Russo was next. Her staff at South River Public Library had a high turnover rate. They were hiring all the wrong people, because the talented interns they were hiring quickly were chosen for other jobs.
They were always training new people. They don’t have a training staff. This exhausted the enthusiasm of staff, and people were scrambling to cover shifts. The consistency of programs suffered. The Sunshine Fund was also depleted because they were giving stuff away for leaving staff. (haha)
The Goldilocks Hire
They changed their model to high PT people. There people wanted less hours, but were very flexible. This began in 2014, and the model has been working well. There has been great peace of mind to staff and patrons get to know them. One hire even came back for a full time job. They are willing to change the hiring model if it proves to be unsuccessful.
CL was next. She has entirely PT staff, with the exception of herself. She had three people leave in November at the same time. She spoke about training for PT staff. Most of her staff work between 5-12 hours a week. For some, it’s great. For others, it’s a stepping stone.
Things to consider:
What obstacles are there to training?
How do you best assess your staff’s training needs?
What are your priorities? Are there competencies you are using?
Are there differences between training PT and FT staff? How do we best train people who only work 5-8 hours a week?
Time - How do we do this?
Money - Sometimes training costs money
Resources - what are they?
Lack of interest - some just want to do what they want or don’t want to learn new tech.
-Start with the basics (registering a patron, looking up a record, etc)
- Customer Service
- Readers advisory
-How to do a reference interview
-Upselling (yes, we have magazines, but we also have e-magazines)
-What else is important to you?
-Tie training to evaluations
-Encourage staff to train each other. Some might click well with others.
-Create a checklist of things they need to know. Make it clear.
-Make training fun (23 things, scavenger hunts, incentives)
Then they opened it up for questions and comments. One person mentioned letting people “float” the first week. It’s tough, but it lets people get their feet wet and lets them feel welcome.
Someone else mentioned how monthly staff notes/changes should be emailed to all staff, in case they can’t make a meeting.
Someone else mentioned that all meetings should have a minute taker so that communication stays open.
There are also PT staff who like that and happy with it, and others who are looking for FT work or to move up.
Panel to talk about programs. They all had their slide hand outs, which I took.
Jen Lemke, Reference Librarians and Coordinator of Teen Services
She talked about Pinterest to use as a tool to plan programs.
Pinterest- some love it and some hate it. When she is brainstorming for a new program, she creates a new board on Pinterest and pins like crazy.
Google vs. Pinterest: We use Google to search for things and some might not turn to Pinterest that readily. When she did a search on Google, a lot of things from Pinterest came up. When we do a Google search, we get text. Pinterest is much more visual. It’s more stimulating to the imagination.
In Pinterest, you can search for all pins, like for summer reading or for a bingo program. You can also search for people or library systems or companies. It’s a huge form of social media. It’s an electronic pin board. If you start saving programs for a gardening program, Pinterest will make suggestions and appear in your feed.
She showed us a sample search, “Gardening Projects for Kids.” Some links go to Explore Topics. She likes the visuals on each board when she does a search. Gardening in an ice cream cone? Gardening with sponges?
When you find a pin you like, if you scroll to the bottom, Pinterest has related pins. This is helpful for programs. She found ideas doing a Mother’s Day craft.
Explore feature: Pinterest will make general suggestions about awesome stuff that is trending that day. But it also gives you recommendations.
You can also check out what others saved to a board. You can look at that person’s board and raid ideas. “Notifications” shows you who has been saving your ideas.
Pinterest might overwhelm you, so you can also turn it off.
You can also share your ideas. She made two giant games out of tarp, duck tape and poster board. She saved the photos and it got pinned 140 times!
Then she talked about Dollar Tree and how it is your best friend. Pinterest has a lot of DT crafts. She then shared a list of things to buy and not buy at the Dollar Store. Most of the do not is food, gum, electronics, sodas, pet foods, etc.
She also does a Teen Cooking program. She has done Smoothies, Mug Cake, Will it Waffle?, Gingerhouses and Christmas Trees, Hot Chocolate, etc.
Also, whenever possible, seek out recycled materials. She asks for donations months before a program, and has found people want to get rid of stuff in their closet, especially if they know it’s going to good use. She has done “Bad Art” programs, and the ugliest art, wins.
She talked about Cards for Hospitalized Kids, where you can make cards for kids.
Operation Gratitude has a lot of options for community service projects. Soldiers cherish letters or you can also send Halloween candy.
She then talked about more ideas.
The NJ Summer Reading page has a lot of ideas.
Lisa O’Shaughnessy started speaking about Lifesize Board Games. She said they are very easy to do. They always do a LS Candyland.
When planning a board game, think about your space when you choose your game. How are you going to make the game work in your space?
Everything they make for Candyland is recycled materials or from the Dollar Store. You then have to decide on the rules, choose your stations and decide how to build each station.
She has done Grandma’s Nut House, Snowflake Lake, Gingerbread Gardens and Gumdrop Mountain.
Volunteers and helpers are great. They let kids really young to 13-14 to play. They do some prizes and do a craft as people are waiting.
Another program she does is Olympic Games. Balloon Tennis, Potato Sack Races, etc.
She also does Karaoke, which is fun and free to do. Use YouTube to make a playlist, which has a lot of songs already on it. She has had 75 kids show up to this! She has done this in the winter with hot cocoa. Having a kid MC the event can really make it fun.
Marissa Lieberman began to speak. She is a children’s librarian at the East Orange Public Library.
She talked about her ideas.
Life-sized games: Angry Birds. This is something she does and the materials can be recycled.
She also loves game shows and creates them on powerpoint. She has prizes on hand usually, and she adapts a lot of them.
She showed an example using Jeopardy. She sometimes puts the kids in teams. This is great for all ages.
She also uses 10,000 Pyramid, also created on Powerpoint.
Trust Me, I’m a Librarian, has also been adapted.
All three ladies had great ideas!
This was a Discussion on a lot of topics. The following sheet was handed out, and each person had 2 minutes to give their argument. Then, at the end we voted on our favorite. It was a funny, informative session.
Paper Library Card Registration:
Pro: He works at two libraries. He talked about patrons who come in and deny things, and it's easy to pull out paper statements and agreements. Many IMLS systems will not allow signatures. Also, it keeps your clerical staff busy. Patrons like to have something to fill out and sign, and it's the initial step. They know they are a member.
Con: She has 31 libraries, and they have the capability to do signatures. If other companies aren't using paper, why are libraries doing it? Is it secure to have a whole drawer of patron record information?
The "con" won.
Food and Drink in the Library:
Do we allow it?
Pro: People are using our books and things at home and taking them on the beach, but we are keeping the library neat and clean. This is a privilege, but people need to clean up after themselves. We can't stop people from doing things at home or getting tomato sauce on their books. We want people to feel comfortable, so let them have a snack with a book.
Con: She said without full-time custodial, this does not apply (laughter). In a perfect world, people would be neat and considerate, but most are inconsiderate slobs. It is not part of our jobs to be cleaning up after people who are slobs. Rodents and things will be attracted to messy food. But, we will lose more people when they find out that our library is infested with cockroaches. (more laughter)
What about designated snack areas?
Pro: Volunteers diversify our options, especially with our budgets. It benefits the community and the individuals. It increases community engagement. We should screen them, use applications and have them be trained. We can also "fire" them if they are bad volunteers. Having them allows us to do more with less.
Con: She said, it depends. If you are very small and able to do more with volunteers with dedication, it's a good fit. The work is important to both parties. They disbanded their program because it's convoluted. Most volunteers at organizations are vetted, and this takes time. Oversight, scheduling, follow up, etc. takes time.
Pro volunteer won.
Family Library Cards:
Pro: He talked about "Your Right to No." The mission of the public library is to content people with content. Formats have changed, but our role has not. It's not our role to figure out how households exchange information. We should offer options and choices. It's useful as a choice.
Con: What about the right of privacy? A library card has an emotional attachment. It's so exciting when a child at age 4 or 5 gets their own card. They get that attachment.
The con won.
Charging for DVD Borrowing:
Pro: DVDs are declining and some are unique. If we are charging extra fines, maybe it's more upfront to ask people to borrow it.
Con: Her library chose not to charge. How did this evolve? We are trying to lend out content and eliminate the barrier. They have 3 at no charge, then they charge.
Meeting Room Use by Outside Groups:
Pro: The community wanted space, so they changed some of their space. It's a good way to get people in who haven't used the library in awhile and see what else is happening.
Con: Outside groups leave a mess. Why are they coming to the library? They also wanted them to help with the programs. What if you don't have custodians for the evening? They also compete for time. Meeting rooms are for the library and its programming. How do we manage an open public forum?
Deputy State Librarian for Lifelong Learning
She used to be a director for a very small library. She does recommend consultants, but they do cost a lot of money, and it’s hard for some libraries to be able to afford that. She wants us to take away that strategic planning is for everyone and for every size library. Most libraries do a three-year plan, because tech is changing so quickly.
She said libraries can’t keep doing what they have always done and expect to survive, let alone to flourish.
What does the director need to do?
-Education your Trustees. Why is this needed?
-Work with a planning team
-Help conduct the research
-Show the Trustees Good plans
-Help set goals, strategies and priorities
-Collaborate to draft the plan
-Suggest action items
Manage the library to support it
What do the Trustees need to do?
-Establish how to work on it
-Determine goals obkectives and priorts
-Regularly evaluate it
It's Not OUR Library, it's THEIRS. Strategic planning reminds you of who you serve. You need to do some field research that forces you to ask some tough questions. What should we do differently in the future and is it sustainable?
Basic Elements of an SP:
Average plan should be 10-20 pages.
- Vision Statement
-Goals and Strategies
There isn't a "correct" way to do a SP. No two of them are the same.
So, where do we start?
Vision Statement: This focuses on what the library will be in the next decade. It focuses on what the customer needs. It should be short and readable. A few sentences is fine.
Mission Statement: This is your purpose statement, the reason you exist. What are you trying to accomplish? Who are we as a library? Where are we headed?
Information Gathering and Analysis: Observing, watching, listening. We want to skip this part, but we can't. This is the research that we need.
She showed us some sample plans on the NJSL website, which also has some scripts.
Goals and Strategies: 3 to 5 goals are ideal, and plenty, for a small library. Keep this simple, because we want to be able to achieve it. If you have a staff of 4-5, you have to be realistic.
Goals: What will the community receive? General statements. Should be achieved in a reasonable length of time.
Strategies: How do we reach the goals? They set a framework for the activities in the library.
Budget and Anticipated Costs:
We need to estimate planned programs and include cost of personnel and other operations. We also may need a capital plan if saving for future building projects. The budget should be transparent.
They must be made to review the plan and check against current decisions and expenditures. Always use your SP as a check against the budget. We should map out a timeline outlining our goals.
After you do the SP, put it away for a week and don't look at it.
Ask, Did you create the plan you intended? Does it connect your mission to your vision? Is it realistic? Is it complete? Is it clear?
Finally, we have to monitor it and evaluate it:
Are things being achieved?
Will the goals be achieved according to the timelines specified? Why or why not?
Should the deadlines need to be changed?
Do you have adequate resources to achieve the goals?
Should priorities be changed to put focus on achieving your goals.
There shouldn't be any surprises with it.
How often do we monitor?
We should monitor monthly and update our board quarterly.
Adaptive Planning: If you come to a fork in the road, take it. (Yogi Berra). There are opportunities that come along, especially with grants. Plan for disruptions if you didn't see big things coming your way.
Promote Your Plan:
It needs to be transparent. The community should see it, and celebrate it with you. Instead of focus on problem solving, also focus on celebrating it.
Question: When a director is being evaluated, should this be tied to the SP?
Michele said this is an entire library venture, even though a lot falls on the director. The trustees should be moving the plan along.
We started by having some conversations with people around us. Some people shared some stories about dealing with disagreeable patrons.
First, he talked about practicing self care. The way we best deal with our patrons is by taking care of ourselves, and centering ourselves.
We also have to actively cultivate empathy. “Just Like Me” was a practice that was discovered in the 70s. When we look at another person, we need to keep in mind that, on many levels, are “just like you.” Even people on the political spectrum want to thrive. We tend to forget that. We all have biases, and we all can get reactive. Just like me, they have problems.
FInding a way to connect to the basic humanity of the person we are dealing with is a good way to disagree.
Third, one of deepest lessons about divesity is that everybody has a piece of the truth. If someone is misinformed, their “truth” has some validity to do. Even when people disagree, there is some validity.
Fourth, bringing choice to communication is good. We don’t have to react and can respond thoughtfully.
Deborah started speaking. She started with “start with heart.” Be committed to dialogue. This is about establishing a mutual and shared need. What is the goal? The beginning, the middle and the end. Ask yourself, what is your intention? We lose shared meaning, if we fail to come to the diaglogue with “I have a perspective, you have a perspective.” Stay in a position and a heart of discovery.
When we apoligize, we leave the relationship well.
What is our role in our conversations? What are we hearing and what are people saying? We are losing the ability at times to stop and prepare. The moment will come, when the conversation goes south.
Marie stared speaking: “I felt disrespected” is much better than you saying “you disrespected me.” Try to turn it into yourself (me) rather than you. It’s all about perspective. We have to prepare ourselves for these encounters. Non-verbal communication can be very ambiguous. Laughing to ourselves can be perceived from someone else as us laughing at them.
Marie likes face to face. Non-verbal behavior is ambiguous, but email and text is worse. Use face to face whenever possible. “Hey, next time, let’s talk. Let’s not start an email war.”
as a debate, and feeling like we have to “Win,” reframe that into dialogue. Instead of wanting to win, understand the other’s point of view, even if we don’t agree.
Don’t ask for someone’s opinion, but for someone’s facts. The dialogue should also be on who we want to be other than on what we want to be true. When things go wrong, reframe as a learning experience with a new awareness and an increased skill level for yourself.
They opened it up for questions. One audience member talked about writing out an email without a subject, and once she is done writing, she feels better. Great strategy!
Another director will read her emails to her admin assistant and do recommendations. Empathy is seeing, hearing and feeling for the other person. If we realize this, we know people are coming from a perspective that is different.
This was a small panel, and they started by saying they wanted it to be a conversation. No powerpoint.
He said as a director, it’s his responsibility to his city council to have tech needs. They have to make that need known to the powers that be.
They asked what our tech needs are. Melissa Brisbane started speaking. She started out behind the circ desk as an assistant. She clarified that every staff member is responsible for offering tech service. All staff members should be trained and working on core competencies. We shouldn’t rely on one person.
When she started, she was self taught.
Here is where I swtiched sessions to “Introverted Leadership.”
This was another panel, but questions were pre-planned of the four panelists.
How do you recharge?
James Keebler talked about how he talks with his staff and that recharges him. Karen talked about laughter. Susan said you have to recharge with people you trust. One day she actually ate lunch in her car. It’s a way to recharge. She also wants to give her staff time to complain about her.
What should we keep in mind when working with staff?
Karen said to keep in mind that not everyone has the same strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone is the same every day. When we are working on a project, we have to remember where staff members are at. Susan said it’s important to not box ourselves in and not say “I’m a this or that.” We shouldn’t limit ourselves. We can do anything we set our minds to.
Do you have advice to introverts regarding leadership?
Susan said, “you can do it!” She does a ton of research before she does anything. If you are the most researched person in the room, that will help you. You can’t “shoot from the hip” all the time. Read management books, take courses in leadership, learn the business side of the house. Preparing needs to happen whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Karen said to take on projects and start small. Take opportunities to stretch and grow. James said leaders need to have integrity and trust, and everyone can do that. Do a task to the best of your ability. Humility also doesn’t hurt. Be who you are and find other introverts to bring along with you.
Do you have advice for extroverts in working with introverts?
Karen said to know she will take a step back in meetings. Don’t take it as a sign of weakness. She said she needs time to defrazzle. James said “we don’t need to be fixed.” There is nothing wrong with us (laughter). Everyone fears public speaking and going up to people. Give introverts a chance to feel comfortable. Susan said if you follow an extroverted leader, it can be hard, but you have to be direct and honest. One time she had to give a talk in front of her staff, and she sounded like a politician. But, she is diplomatic. Over time, she has become more comfortable in saying what she thinks. Karen said, as an introvert, she never says “we are doing something” without having a plan.
They then asked the audience for questions.
Karen said she doesn’t do social things with staff, especially as a supervisor. She backs off if staff are having a bad time, until they are ready to get back on track. James said directors can be the lonliest position. Every decision is so critical. He has key people he talks to, and he also vents to his wife. He likes to go to other people’s desks or their areas instead of his, so it’s less intimidating. Organizationally, my job is to make tough decisions.
Karen said, “remember, it’s a book. It’s a program.”
Susan said, “no babies will die. If a conflict happens, no babies will die.”
Someone asked about being frazzled and how to balance being available and taking time.
Susan said she used the computer lab to do children’s programs, if she had to time to carve space. We don’t want to burn anyone out. Hiding in rooms not being used helped her get things done.
How do you manage?
Karen said she has staff take notes when they talk, so they are “hearing” the same things. It helps verify what they are all thinking. James doesn’t do a lot of “checking back” so he can build trust.
Susan said as an introverted leader, hire people smarter and better than you. Delegation is your friend.
General news for the Nicolet Federated Library System.