The Rookie Manager: Classes End, Learning Continues

by flickr user clevercupcakes

by flickr user clevercupcakes

The semester of NYPL’s Managing for Excellence program (which I wrote about earlier) is coming to a close: we have our presentation to senior management and our graduation this morning. After three months of instruction on communication styles, performance management, team building, conflict, and more, I feel much more well-equipped to supervise and lead a department than I did earlier this spring. I still have a lot to learn, of course, but I at least have a framework now (both of theoretical concepts and concrete knowledge like the way discipline is handled at NYPL) into which I can fit what I’m learning from experience.

While the formal training provided by my library is over and I’ll definitely be doing a lot of learning from experience, I also want to keep up my deliberate book learning, too. I bought a copy of Be a Great Boss, and I’ll start working through it soon. I’m trying to find more readings about management and supervising, but there’s a lot of dumb business garbage out there to sort through to find the good stuff. I’m also following a couple management blogs (like As a Manager, Library Lost & Found, and Rands in Repose). What other formal methods for learning would you suggest, readers?

In the mean time, I want to reflect on one particular lesson I’ve been learning recently: how my work processes have to change as I make the transition from a department of one to a supervisor.

(more…)

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Leave a Comment May 31, 2013

Building Teen Services (Mostly) From Scratch (And Writing About It)

On Wednesday an article I wrote about building teen services (mostly) from scratch at my last library was published on In the Library with the Lead Pipe. In it, I write about the experience and about four things (the value of data, the importance of having a vision, how much relationships matter, and the value of professional community) that I wish I’d known before starting. I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think, especially if you’re also the first teen services librarian at your library!

I also want to reflect a little bit about the experience of writing for the In the Library with the Lead Pipe folks since I’ve done that twice now (my first article for them was about why everyone, even adults, should be reading YA lit and includes a now-old look at what YA has to offer).

(more…)

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Leave a Comment May 24, 2013

Voter Turnout (and More) for the 2013 ALA Election

Last year, I analyzed voter turnout for the ALA election and speculated on why certain divisions did better than others (if turnout is a measure of member engagement). Now that data for this year is available, I thought I’d do the same and make some comparisons.

First, comparative turnout between divisions (with all of these graphs, click through for bigger versions):

2013 by division

(In this chart and throughout this post, what’s labeled as ALA voter turnout isn’t the overall turnout for all members; it’s how many members voted for Council and President of ALA — “Big ALA,” if you will.)

And let’s compare that to last year:

(more…)

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Leave a Comment May 15, 2013

Other Things I Wrote

by flickr user Allie Holzman

by flickr user Allie Holzman

During my personal blogging hiatus, I was spending a lot of my free time on Amazing Audiobooks and on running The Hub, but I did make some time to write — it just wasn’t here. In case you missed any of it and are some sort of Gretchen Completionist, here are my words, elsewhere:

On The Hub

On the YALSAblog

The Rookie Manager: I Have No Idea What I’m Doing (But I’m Trying to Get Better)

i have no idea what i'm doing dogBy far the hardest thing to adjust to in my new job has been being a supervisor instead of just being my own department. This far surpasses the Bronx vs. New Canaan, giant system vs. small town library, and even full-time vs. part-time differences in what I do on a day-to-day basis and how I feel about my job.

Before starting with NYPL, this was the entirety of my supervisory experience:

  • A semester-long stint as the supervisor of the student staff of the front office for the residence hall where I lived in college
  • Leading Teen Advisory Board groups at my last job
  • A year-long term as chair of Amazing Audiobooks
  • About a year and a half of managing The Hub
  • I also read and loved and really took to heart From Good to Great, although as inspiring as that book is and as helpful as it was at my last job when I was creating a vision/strategic plan for my department, it’s more about leadership and less about supervisory/management work

It’s not a lot, but this is one of those “How are you supposed to get experience when you have to have experience already to get hired?” kinds of situations that I think a lot of job-seekers find themselves in. I’m grateful to NYPL for seeing potential in me and offering me this job, and I’m determined to live up to the idea that I can do this, and do it well.

But right now, I am definitely in the stage where I have a lot to learn, and I’m trying to learn quickly. (more…)

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12 Comments March 13, 2013

How I Learned to Read Again, Post-Selection Committee

by flickr user Miss Jo|我是周小姐

by flickr user Miss Jo|我是周小姐

It’s been about three weeks since I finished up my work as chair of Amazing Audiobooks and, for the first time in two years, could read what I wanted and at my own pace. But once our list was finished and the press release written, instead of feeling relief and release, I felt anxiety and distraction. I’ve been stuck in a post-selection committee reading slump, and I’ve been worried I might not escape.

(more…)

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4 Comments February 19, 2013

Ghost Hunting @ My Library

ghost huntersI’m still settling in at my new job, so I thought I’d get back to blogging by writing about some of the things I wish I’d written about while I was learning and growing in my previous position. Since the post I did on the Minecraft competition we held still gets me a lot of questions about how to do the same, I thought I’d write about another unusual, successful-by-some-metrics program.

Like all libraries, my last library had regulars. A particular group of regulars formed my core audience when I started to spin up programs: they were the ones who’d come to drop-in gaming and movie screenings regularly, so when I decided it was time to form a TAB, they were the first ones I went to, and they were my most faithful attendees.

As they got older and our teen services offerings grew, their use of the library changed (once they started driving, they did a lot less just hanging out!), but they were still the kids I knew best and the kids I could count on to come to things.

But it wasn’t just me counting on them, I was encouraged to discover. One day, one of these girls came to me and said that she and her friends had formed a paranormal investigation team, and while they had the equipment they needed and had done some investigations, they were having trouble getting access to other locations because grownups weren’t really interested in a bunch of teens running around on their property after dark. They wanted to know if they could incorporate as a library club so I could help them talk to the adults at those places.

(more…)

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Leave a Comment February 7, 2013

Brief Thoughts: Leaving One Job and Starting Another

by flickr user SashaW

by flickr user SashaW

On Saturday I had my last day at the first professional position I had post-library school (first and only teen services librarian at the New Canaan Library in New Canaan, Connecticut), and today I had orientation and training for my new job (working at NYPL in the Bronx Library Center as the supervising librarian for teen services). It’s a big step in my career, but it’s been bittersweet taking this position because over the not-quite-two-and-a-half-years that I worked in New Canaan, I’ve grown very attached to the town, to the library, and especially to the kids. I didn’t stay as long as I’d intended, but I’m really proud of what I built during my time there, especially since I was a department of one building teen services from the ground up, and super-especially because I did all of that on 19-28 hours a week (I got more hours over time).

Transitions always make me contemplative, and I’m not only thinking about what I did and didn’t accomplish in New Canaan and what my new job will be like and how I’ll grow and change as a librarian and as a person — I’m also thinking about how disappointed I am that I was always too busy to write about my experiences building teen services as they were happening. (more…)

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4 Comments January 14, 2013

I still exist! What I’ve been doing, the fruits of professional involvement, and ALA voter turnout

It’s been nearly eight months since I last posted here! A lot has happened in that time, and believe me, I’ve missed blogging. I’m not sure I can even pretend this post is the harbinger of a comeback; I’m still doing all of the things that took me away from here last winter, and until that’s over, I’m not sure I’ll be blogging regularly.

What are those things? Well, I’m getting more involved locally. And like I mentioned ages and ages ago, I’ve been on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee, and as of February, I’ve been chairing it. I also took over as member manager of The Hub last summer and I’ve been spending a lot of time on that as well. I started reviewing for School Library Journal. I think those are probably where most of my time is going — and as of the beginning of this month, I also have more hours at work! I’m still not quite full time, but I’m getting there, and there are so many things that have happened at work that I’ve wanted to tell you about but just haven’t made the time to write up. The things I do with YALSA seem to feed back into my work, and the things I do at work inspire new connections and conversations on Twitter, and then I see those people involved with YALSA and think to make new connections. I’ve definitely been busy, and it feels good! And while I miss blogging, I’m kind of enjoying just putting my head down and working. That feels really good.

So the more involved I get with YALSA — beyond committee work, I’ve also been on a taskforce, organized the speed networking session at Annual this year, and helped write up a proposal [pdf] that the YALSA Board form a task force to monitor what’s going on with ebooks and help YALSA create resources about ebooks for its members — the more involved I want to get and the more I want to learn about the organization and help make it better.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is member involvement in divisions and in ALA as a whole. (more…)

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Leave a Comment July 21, 2012

The Hub: YA lit on the Simpson, Anne McCaffrey, and giving thanks

It’s only Thursday and it’s been a busy week at The Hub!

The Simpsons episode that aired on Sunday dealt with YA/MG lit (with special guest star Neil Gaiman as himself). I was really impressed with how well they know the field and with the insight they had into the publishing industry. Sarah Debraski and I talked about the episode in a post on Tuesday.

Sci-fi and fantasy author Anne McCaffrey passed away on Monday; her books were among my absolute favorites in middle school and really shaped me:

I read fantasy and sci-fi almost exclusively from late elementary school through early high school, and especially in middle school, I think I read (and re-read) more of Anne McCaffrey’s books than any other author’s. Her Pern books got me so hooked on dragons that I started writing my own story about dragons. It stole liberally from other fantasy novels I was reading at the time, had absolutely no plot or character development, and rambled on and on (and on) for pages, but it consumed me for months. It’s embarrassing to read now, but I keep it as a testament to my obsession with dragons and Ms. McCaffrey, and with her ability to build worlds so real I became lost in them.

And finally, since today is Thanksgiving, a bunch of us at The Hub talked about what we’re thankful for in YA lit.

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Leave a Comment November 24, 2011

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