Advice on Being a Good Library Boss

Megan Hartline —  June 16, 2016 — 3 Comments

Do you want to be a good supervisor?

I do, so I had to read Baharak Yousefi’s amazing list of good library boss practices on Letters to a Young Librarian. I was pumping my fist by the middle of the first paragraph:

When I come across smart, awesome, politically progressive librarians (which happens with delightful frequency), I try to convince them to consider management. This is not because I think management is the only path forward for these wonderful humans, but because I want more smart, awesome, and politically progressive folks at those tables.

Darn right! If you care about how libraries are developing, taking on a formal leadership role is the easiest way to influence change in the future.

The point from this list that has stuck with me over the past few days is #5:

Make absolutely sure that people who work for you have the resources to do their work. If resources are scarce, then change their work. Do less with less and more with more.

In a time of flat budgets, “Do less with less” might become my mantra. It’s so easy for library staff to get overwhelmed because we naturally want to do all the things for all the users. The reality is that we’re limited in resources, including employee work time. A good boss needs to understand the capacity of their team and make sure the workload is humanly achievable. If we can’t fulfill every service without overworking our staff, it’s time to hire more people or gracefully sunset something.

The rest of Baharak’s list is equally relevant to any library boss. If you’re not already regularly reading Letters to a Young Librarian, it’s a great resource to add to your regular rotation. Jessica Olin curates submissions from all types of librarians about career lessons they learned after library school.


Photo of neatly arranged bookshelves

By Maarten van den Heuvel via Unsplash

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

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