ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I hope you have David Bowie running through your head thanks to that title.

I’m a big fan of change. I’m of the opinion public libraries should change. Our communities certainly change so it’s our responsibility to reflect those changes in our programming, our collections and even how we operate behind the scenes.

My library is in the process of some pretty massive changes.

We’ve gone through changes in the past. Due to declining tax revenues, our hours were reduced as were our staffing levels. Our teen department moved from the main floor to the 2nd floor with the children’s department. We ceased loaning VHS tapes. And so on and so forth. Some of these changes were barely a blip on staff radar. Some of these changes were devastating to staff morale.

I can only assume staff morale was a big reason leadership at my library decided to have an all staff meeting on “change management” to introduce the latest changes. A four hour meeting on change management to be precise.

I’m not going to lie: I was skeptical. I’m fine with change! Four hours seemed excessive and really challenging staffing-wise to cover desks as we remained open and staff were split into 2 groups. Plus, my group was meeting at 8 am.

I am not a morning person.

The very first thing I did was bring my own coffee. Because coffee. When I walked into the room, I purposely decided to not sit with my department and sat in the front row, dead center. I’ve been accused of not being able to “hide my face” which essentially means, I’m completely readable. I was determined to be open-minded and present.

I gotta say, it was way better than I expected.

We started with introductions of our facilitators and then our director shared the changes that were coming: an entire rearrangement of the main floor, centralized ordering, staff shifts in responsibility, etc. We had 10 minutes to process the changes by ourselves and then we broke into small groups to talk about them. I was so glad to have not sat with my department for this. I love my team. I really, really do. But it was really nice to hear from people in other departments how they were feeling especially since the major changes would not be affecting my department-except for a little part about losing a full time person to collection development and not replacing her so….yeah. That’s going to be quite a change for our department.

We got back together and were able to ask our director specific questions about the changes. We had a short break (snacks! more coffee!) and then got back together to discuss leading change.

This is where I had a major aHA! moment.

There was discussion about “common dysfunctional behaviors” people tend to fall into when faced with change: conflict, distance, triangulation and under or over functioning.

Oh hey. That’s me. I over function.

Upon hearing we were losing a staff member in YS, I immediately starting thinking about what I could/should/would have to do in order to absorb the loss. I could sneakily skip breaks: there’s 30 minutes a day! I should take on more responsibility! I would have to learn how to multitask even more!

This fall I had my annual review. We have a new review system I really like that involves setting personal measurable goals and a section involving our supervisors rating us on personal service, innovation, library stewardship and teamwork. I was feeling pretty confident going into my review and was at first shocked to hear I got a “needs improvement” on teamwork.

WHAT?! I’m an amazing team member! I take on as much as I can in order to reduce the work load of my team! I take responsibility for my programs and execute them as much as I possibly can without help!

Oh wait. That’s not being a good team member. That’s actually the opposite. My supervisor explained in my review that I set incredibly high standards for myself which is good, but my expectations of others is unrealistic and I make my disappointment known when they don’t meet my expectations. That’s when I learned I don’t hide my face well.

As I look back on this year, I’m incredibly proud of the work I have done for my community. My storytimes are so much more intentional as I’ve learned more about child development. I’m able to communicate clearly with caregivers why I’m doing what I’m doing and encouraging them to continue to read, sing, talk, play and write at home. I’ve led the charge with passive programming allowing so many more children to have positive experiences within the library. I’ve sought outreach opportunities to expand the reach of the library in my community.

As I look forward to the upcoming year, I’m optimistic about the changes forthcoming. I’m going to take what I learned from that four hour change management meeting: be calm when I recognize I’m anxious, try and understand other people’s perspectives, share my own views without demanding agreement from others and listen more than I talk. I’m going to attempt to recognize when I’m about to over function and ask for help from my team. I’m committing to be a better team member.

Don’t worry. I won’t be able to hide my face. I’ll over function. I’ll fail.

But you can bet I’m going to do my very best to fail forward.

 

 

ain’t no party like a noon year’s eve party ’cause a noon year’s eve party has all of the things!

I’ve been meaning to blog out about our Noon Year’s Eve Party and I just got a request for information so I thought “NOW! DO IT NOW! MAYBE IT CAN HELP PEOPLE PLAN NOW!”

Here we go:

1. Celebration hats! When people come into the department, we direct them to our Children’s Activity Room where they decorate party hats. We purchase hats from Oriental Trading Co. or Party City, get a mess of star, fireworks, celebration-type stickers, curled ribbon and lots of tape.

Once they’re finished we direct them to the floor where they help decorate:

2. The Wishing Tree! We provide a bunch of die-cut bells with twine (to “ring in the Noon Year!”) and ask everyone to write down one thing they wish for in the next year. For an older audience, you might be able to veer into resolution territory, but we thought wishes would make more sense to our younger population. They then hang them on our “wishing tree.”  Last year one of my favorite wishes was “To be a my little pony.” I hear you, kid. I hear you.

3. Dance Party! We put together a playlist for a 15 minute dance party. Last year we used: Tooty-Ta, The Mack Chicken Dance, Banana’s Unite, Silly Dance Contest, 1, 2,3, Whee! and The Jumping and Counting Song. We purposely added counting songs because we do a countdown to noon and we wanted to get them ready with the numbers!

4. Story! I looked and looked for a good New Year’s Eve book and at the last minute discovered we had a big book copy of “Chicken Soup with Rice.” It was perfect not only because it explained the months but because we ended up with an enormous crowd. I introduced it by asking what in the world were we even celebrating and we talked our way through the book. It’s long-ish, but there’s a lot to talk about. This year we MIGHT be singing it, but the talking is pretty important for the youngest ones.

5. Countdown! Originally, I was going to ask for 10 kids to come up and help me put the numbers in order, but, again, we ended up with such a big crowd I ended up putting the numbers on a shelf and mixing them up myself. First we put them in order from 1-10 and then we had to put them in order from 10-1 because COUNTDOWN! This ended up being a perfect activity for the timing. If you have more time than you thought, you can easily drag it out and make it super silly. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can do it pretty quickly.

6. Bubble wrap fireworks! Last year, we started collecting bubble wrap around the holidays from staff. We ended up with a bunch, but we still went out and purchased more. I cut them into 12″X12″ squares. This year? We purchased 350 feet for $18ish on Amazon and it’s perforated. Post putting numbers in order, staff helped pass out the bubble wrap.

7. Countdown! I instructed everyone to put the bubble wrap on the ground at the very end of our countdown and get ready to jump. We counted down, we jumped and gosh darn it if 250 people jumping on bubble wrap simultaneously doesn’t sound like fireworks! (It also made our Reference Department think the ceiling might be caving in. That was just a bonus.)

8. Balloon Drop! We purchased a few balloon drops from Party City. Static made them kind of sad. This year we’re going to rig up our own with…something…this week we’re hoping to test out a few options.

Sad static shot with numbers in the background:

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9. Dance to Celebration! By Kool and the Gang! Because it was my favorite celebration song when I was a kid!

There are a lot of options for alternative crafts: noisemakers, more complicated hats, poppers, etc. We just suspected we’d be inundated and wanted to keep things as simple as possible. And I’m not gonna lie, for the payoff? It’s a pretty simple program to put together. It was one of those programs where the immediate feedback was incredibly positive.

I’d love to hear if and how others are Noon Year’s Eve-ing it up at your libraries!

and then i knew what i wanted to do when i grew up but i didn’t know how to get there

I always assumed I would get my MLIS. It’s what you DO when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life working at a public library. I’ve been encouraged to do so by every supervisor I’ve ever had. I’ve been encouraged to do so by our last director and our current director. Many people I respect graduated from Wayne State-which is the most convenient and economical option for this Michigander. I’ve explored University of Wisconsin at Madison. I’ve looked into University of Denver. I checked out University of Michigan.

I just…it all just…well…doesn’t…interest me.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely respect that degree and I definitely respect people who have chosen to get that degree.

But as I spend more time in youth services and I hone in on what it is I’m really passionate about I’m starting to wonder if I really need to take “Foundations of Library and Information Science” and “Introduction to the Information Profession.”

Here’s what I want to do:

I want to develop programming for caregivers and children 0-3 years old. I want to identify partners in communities providing services for this population and I want to support them with outreach opportunities highlighting best practices including ECRR. I want to create a network of organizations dedicated to supporting this population and I believe the public library is an appropriate place to do this.

My love of toddler storytime is well known. After each session, I evaluate what I believe worked and what did not. I incorporate new elements based on independent research I have done: books I have read, articles I have stumbled across, webinars and professional development opportunities. And this session it became abundantly clear with attendance numbers, programming for 3s and under in my community is very much needed. I love my storytime kids and caregivers. It truly is the best part of my job.

BUT there are so many people in my community who are not able to attend my storytimes. Two working caregivers, lack of transportation, wrong time of day, caregivers intimidated by how it all “works” (What if I have fines on my card? Can I still attend storytime? How do I handle a child who wants to check items out but I owe too much?), language barriers and simply not knowing what’s the big deal about storytime anyway?

One of the main reasons I’ve become so attracted to this population is that I honestly, truly, 100% believe that if every caregiver knew how important reading, talking, playing, writing, and singing is to the brain development of their infants and toddlers, the world would change. And I also believe there are a lot of people who have no idea how any of that reading, talking, playing, writing and singing even looks like with an infant or toddler.

And I believe it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars to extend the reach outside the library.

My current job is definitely not only about storytime. I work at our local Boys and Girls Club with elementary kids. I provide parent training at local schools on how to read with your child. I provide tours for preschools-5th graders. I provide programming for school aged children and families. I am assigned desk hours to provide reference for our department. And I love just about every single one of those parts of my job.

But my dream? My dream is early literacy.

So, an MLIS just doesn’t seem to be the right path for me. I am completely self-taught right now. I know I am a lifelong learner, but I also know I my dream won’t come close to coming true unless I get an advanced degree no matter how many books I’ve read or webinars I watch or conferences I attend.

I’m more than open to suggestions.