Thankfully 2022 did not bring big changes as 2020 and 2021 had, but it was still a very challenging year. I had just started a new position as the YS manager at a small-medium sized, somewhat rural library, where I basically had to start over and re-build everything from scratch. Nothing was in place, and my predecessor had left me absolutely no information. I quickly realized that the collection had been *severely* neglected, there had been little to no programming for elementary aged kids, the department was very sterile, cold, and unwelcoming; families were not using the library at all, and I certainly had my work cut out for me.
Although I was able to quickly assess what needed to be done, I knew that it would take at least 2-3 years to really get things the way I wanted them and running smoothly. I immediately hit the collection hard and fast, frantically weeding each section and ordering new materials, and made noticeable improvements right away. I added displays, began decorating to brighten it up and be more welcoming, and implemented ongoing passive activities to encourage families to come in and hang around awhile. I did minimal programming that first 5 months, putting all my time into the collection and planning a successful summer program to be our springboard back to "normal" programming to get people back to the library, and it worked.
Our circulation has increased to equal or even better than pre-pandemic levels, program attendance and foot traffic has greatly increased, we now have weekly storytimes, a monthly program for elementary ages, a monthly family Pokémon club, solid teen programming, plus occasional special programs .In addition, I gave a presentation on STEM programming at our state conference that was well-received, and my research paper was *finally* published. It's a lot of trial and error figuring out what the public really wants and will show up for, but I think we've reached our new 'normal'. Though there's more to be done, I'm very proud of what I've accomplished my first year (with the help and support of the rest of the staff) and we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from patrons, staff, and board members
It hasn't been easy, though. While I'd like to think I'm a pretty good children's librarian, I am still learning to be a good manager. While I think I've done okay, it has been a little haphazard, jumping from one thing to another, trying to keep all the spinning plates in the air. I've felt stressed because things have just been hectic and disorganized all year, and I haven't yet gotten organized systems and schedules in place to help things run more smoothly, and managing personnel has proven to be the most difficult and stressful parts of the job. So my biggest goal for the next year is to focus on being more available and approachable to my staff and finding more time for mentoring and coaching, to be more proactive about addressing problems rather than letting them fester, and to get some system/schedules in place so I don't feel panicked and pulled in a dozen directions at all times.
Some specific objectives for 2023:
- Set up a weeding schedule so that reviewing the collection is ongoing, a little each month, allowing the entire youth collection is reviewed over the course of a year.
- Set up a formal desk schedule - I didn't think this was really necessary with such a small department, but it has become apparent that it is needed in order to provide a constant reminder and some degree of accountability for desk coverage.
- Create a daily checklist of opening and routine tasks to provide reminders and accountability
- Have formal departmental meetings once a month to have mini-trainings and discuss things, plus weekly check-ins - Again, with such a small department I didn't think formal staff meeting were necessary, but I can see now that it would be helpful.
- Continue to improve the collection through weeding and buying carefully selected new materials.
- Picture book collection in particular needs expanding (though we don't have room to expand as much as needed).
- Juvenile non-fiction section needs to be nearly completely replaced as it is full of materials that are old and/or in poor condition; I hope to complete this over the next 2 years.
- Expand manga collection that is currently very small now that we have additional space.
- Continue re-building YA non-fiction
- Provide more mentoring/coaching to YS staff, more closely oversee continuing education.
- Have another successful summer program, hopefully increasing participation in the reading challenge by going back to traditional paper logs in a low-pressure, non-competitive format rather than all online (not a good fit for a rural community).
- Continue to try to develop community partners and outreach clients (I tried this year, but whereas in other communities people begged for us to come, here it's like pulling teeth to give away free services. People do not respond to attempts to contact, or wait way to late to invite us to events, or mention opportunities, then ghost us.)
- Attend a conference; maybe present at the state conference again or attend a national conference.
- Seek more worthwhile continuing ed opportunities, particularly focused on management.
- Work on maintaining healthier boundaries between working and living. I don't work a lot of extra time or take work home, but mentally I have a very hard time leaving work at work and not thinking about it all the time. I'm hoping that will become easier in time.