About a week ago I saw this tweet from the great Cate Levinson @storytiming. We talked about management and supervision in libraries over email and it was a great conversation…so great that it got me thinking that I really needed to share my most recent library management and supervision stories and lessons learned here on the blog.
Folks, let me tell you: my transition towards a lot more library management hasn’t been easy. I’ve messed up a lot. But on the other hand I’ve been a part of some pretty rad things. It has a lot been stressful. I think about all of the little intricacies in libraries and how to make the 2nd Floor even more awesome a lot more than I used to. For example: I woke up from a small nap this past Saturday and my first thought was “OMG. I NEED TO SUBMIT THE PAYROLLL…TODAY!” when in reality payroll was due on Monday (and it got in on time!).
Here are the lessons that I have learned:
- Always get payroll and scheduling and all that important behind the scenes stuff in on time. There are other employees whose work depends on you completing a task. If your part is not done, their part cannot be done and that just rocks the whole boat. Speaking of which…
- Think of the library as one big giant organism. This was hard for me coming from a youth services background. It’s not all about the kids, tweens, and teens. In order for the library to work, you have to think about how anything you do affects everything that everyone else does. Sure, the 2nd Floor is a 14,000 square foot space for kids, tweens, and teens. But what happens on the 2nd Floor may affect everyone else in the library. How do I be respectful to others while still giving the age group I primarily focus on the best possible service? That’s a tricky one, but if you give it enough thought and care you will get there.
- Your mood as the manager/supervisor sets the tone. Are you stressed out? Are you being negative? If you are, get ready for that to come back to you from the library staff. Set a positive tone in the work environment. Keep your employees shielded from the stuff that may cause them stress that doesn’t directly involve their work.
- Piggybacking on that last one: keep your employees well informed about what is happening but also remember…not everyone needs to know everything…AND THIS IS OK! You as a manager and supervisor are not hiding away information from the people you work with. You are giving them what they need to know and keeping the rest where it needs to be. Yes, information overload is a real thing and it can have a harmful effect on the work environment.
- Work well with others: you will be working with everyone in the library. Everyone has their jobs and they are all trying to do them to the best of their ability. Thank everyone for what they do. Be patient with everyone that you work with. Remember that we are all in this together.
- Finally, and I think this is super important: HAVE FUN. Work does not need to be super stressful. Work should be fun. It should not just be a place that pays the bills. It should be a place that encourages your heart and your mind to grow. It should make you smile.
PS: Sometimes I like to refer to myself as Mister Manager just because of this
Excellent reflections as usual Justin. Here’s another idea, if at all possible do staff annual reviews in neutral territory. I take my staff across to street for coffee. Meeting in your office or conference room sometimes feels like being called to the principals office.
Great advice, Justin. I’m definitely bookmarking this post for my future career.
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