internship-imageOne of my very favorite parts of my job is working with Interns. My library employs three Library Science students as Interns. They work both independently and jointly at the Reference, Readers Advisory, and Youth services desks, and they participate in a variety of projects around the library. For example, they create displays, participate in outreach like school visits, help plan summer reading programs, teach computer classes, lead story times, and a pretty much anything else that interests them.

Interns report to me, the Head of Adult Services, as well as the Head of Youth Services. We manage their schedules and projects and make sure they are offered a variety of opportunities throughout their internship. That said, it is everyone’s job to mentor the Interns. The Librarians work with them at the service desks, share tips, techniques, and advice, and even turn over full projects to Interns. It is beneficial to both the Interns, who get to experience a wide variety of library services and programs as an employee and to the Librarians, who get the fresh perspectives and infectious enthusiasm of new professionals.

When projects are turned over to Interns, we let them make decisions with enough guidance so that they can be successful and also uphold the library’s standards. They often observe computer classes and other events before they lead them, talk about collection philosophy before making weeding and selection decisions, and look at bulletin boards and displays before creating them. We give them all the tools available and then let them run with their ideas. We genuinely want them to be successful, and of course, we want the library to be successful, so we share our experience and knowledge with them without holding back their creativity.

This is often Interns’ very first library job, so we do our best to minimize the fallout of hellomynameistheir failures. They will fail in all the ways Mary mentions in her post Everyone Needs a Librarian in Their Corner, so it is up to us to make sure that those failures are not because we didn’t warn them or stop them from making a mistake we saw coming. Part of the lesson is that “you win some, you lose some” and it is ok to fail. Failure, where Interns are concerned, usually comes in the form of no attendance at a program they planned, a patron asking for a book they weeded right after they weeded it, a typo on a bookmark, or an awkwardly-presented storytime or computer class. (In other words, the same things that we all fail at from time to time!)

Being an Intern is as much about learning to do the job of a professional Librarian as it is about learning to be a good employee. We teach them the importance of showing up to work on time, thorough communication, and asking for help when help is needed. They are never treated as “minions” or “lackeys.” They are our future colleagues, and we respect their input and appreciate their drive. We provide them with as many learning opportunities as possible, and we also provide moral support for both their graduate studies in library science and the projects they take on at our library. There is no “us and them” between the professional staff and the Interns – they are “us!”

We provide them with networking opportunities as well. They are encouraged to attend conferences, workshops, webinars, staff in-services, and cooperative level meetings. When they go into the library world for their first professional job after their Internship, they will have already been introduced to our colleagues and shown an interest in an area of specialty. Internally, too – anything they see happening at the library that they want to get involved with is fair game, no matter what department it comes from. Any idea they have for something new will be considered the same way any new service, program, or collection is considered from other staff. We hope that they will form relationships with staff members across departments to become well-rounded professionals when they finish their internship.

It is crucial that we spend time supporting and mentoring the next generation of professionals. Our library is fortunate to be in a position where we can pay for three student Internships at any given time. We are honored to give back to the profession! Interns bring so much to us, keeping us updated in trends in librarianship that are being taught in library schools, inspiring us to do our very best work as good role models, and just generally being helpful.

pile-of-booksLibraries have different ways of dealing with extra copies. After these books are 6-8 months old, they’re ready to retire to the regular stacks. But how many copies should we hold on to? And for how long? At our library, we keep two copies and hold onto them until they get weeded (which means no checkouts in 4 years). So, browsing through our regular stacks, it’s hard not to notice the many copies of older Patterson’s, and Baldacci’s, and [any popular author we get more than two copies of]. Many are newer, but many are old – really old. Like over 10 years old. Do we really need two copies of a Patterson novel from 2002? That’s a lot of real estate, after all.

Turns out, yes.

Focusing on our Central (downtown) Branch, I recently ran an experiment in CollectionHQ tracking the performance of (a) books we had two copies of and (b) that were at least 10 years old. I scanned a large sample of these books into one experiment, a total of 281 books – from Child to Connelly, Cussler, Evononvich, Kingsbury, Koontz, Macomber, Patterson…you get the idea.

And then I waited.

In four months, 102 of those books had circulated (35%). Not bad. In six months, 129 had circulated (46%). That’s a lot, and doesn’t count renewals, which accounted for 291 circulations. And in many cases, both older copies were checked out (not just one of them).

Don’t sleep on your older but popular authors.

This Library Lost & Found series dissects job ads for library leadership positions. We analyze library job postings from the perspective of building your career. We’re also interested in how to write a great job description that will attract the best candidates.

The Story Center Director – you guessed it – directs the Story Center at MCPL, supporting digital, oral and written storytelling for Kansas City and beyond.

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self-care-in-addiction-recoveryI think it’s safe to say that a lot of us had a rough 2016. For those of us that interact with the public for the majority of the day, a charged, political atmosphere gave many of us an added challenge during desk shifts.

It’s important to say that my personal politics do not affect how I speak to patrons, and I think the same can be said for most of us. As librarians, we should be giving patrons the same quality of assistance regardless of how we feel about them personally, whether we agree or disagree with them. It is our job to be helpful and impartial.

However, while we are able to control how we react to a reference interview, there is a lot we cannot control about how the patron perceives us, or what kind of opinions or emotions they bring with them into the library.

When there is conflict all around us – all over the media, in our community spaces, maybe even in some of our homes – no matter which side you identify with, we cannot take for granted that any interaction will mean the same thing to both of the people in it. There is an added layer to how we react and the potential for escalation.

Navigating that minefield can be tiring. Sometimes being civil is difficult, and sometimes being reasonable doesn’t feel especially satisfying. But, because we are professionals, we bite our tongues and do our best. I feel like I did more of that in 2016 than in previous years.

As a manager, I have noticed how tired my staff is. I think 2016 has taken a toll on everyone. We talk about it a lot off the desk. This intangible atmosphere brought on by the minefield is the only thing that has changed, so it’s what I believe I can attribute it to.

My goal for 2017 is self care. The election is over, but my community still feels very charged and hyper-aware of our differences. Between needing to build our strength reserves back up and looking forward to providing all of our services with energy and compassion, we need to pay attention to how well we are taking care of ourselves.

In my never-ending quest to make my workplace a space where people enjoy spending 40 waking hours every week, I recently resolved to check in with staff more often, and those meetings will be good outlets. There isn’t much I can do about how much time people spend out on the desk interacting with the public, but I can encourage staff to be self-aware and ask for help when they need it.

I’ve seen relief come in many forms – sometimes you just need someone to make you laugh, or reassure you that not every interaction will feel so draining. We can share and emphasize the positive interactions we have with patrons. As a manager, I can make every effort to honor staff requests for vacations when they need them, and recognize urgency when it’s in front of me.

Catching Up

Kevin King —  April 25, 2017 — Leave a comment

catching-up

Still there? We apologize for the time between posts. The spring has been extremely busy! We will once again start publishing great content from library leaders. In the meantime check out these great articles we have been collecting.

Why Culture Fit is the Most Important Factor for Employee Retention

6 Ways To Increase Employee Morale And Performance (Without Giving A Raise)

8 mistakes I made as a manager and how you can avoid them

How to Make Everyone on Your Team Feel Like They Belong

How to Get People to Take You Seriously

7 Ways to Leverage Your Strengths as an Introverted Leader

Library Lost & Found has a Flipboard where you can find all these articles and more!