The Ins and Outs of Managing Youth Services (Fall 2013)

The fall issue of YALS is all about the future of libraries and teens. This post highlights one of the articles in the issue on managing youth services in a public library.

creative commons image of meeting by Kifo The easiest way to create a chaotic working environment and discredit yourself as a manager is to be exclusive and detached.

 A year ago while preparing for a presentation about motivating staff, especially during tough times, I conducted surveys geared towards managers and employees. The results showed that both managers and staff appreciate being included in organizational decision making as well as being updated with potential changes that could reflect the way they work. Furthermore, even when final decision didn’t occur in employees’ favor, they still felt included if asked their opinions and were given genuine consideration.

Managing a youth services library department is no different, but requires special emphasis on other aspects of management as well. Two such areas include advocating for resources to effectively run the department and building up your employees to keep them motivated and maintain a team environment. These are two of the six areas that Elsworth Rockefeller outlines in his article Effectively Managing Teen Services Departments in Public Libraries: Basic Steps for Success.

Published in the Fall issue of YALS, the article goes into detail recommending that statistics, photographs, and reports can all play an important role in helping youth services managers to advocate for their departments and demonstrate their staffs’ successes. Specifically, Rockefeller says, “Collect and utilize statistics on use of the collection and teen area and keep good program notes. Put these records in reports and work them into board documents and any publicity about the library.” Additionally, caring about staff and showing it should be a priority concern for youth services managers. Rockefeller suggests, “Put true effort into your staff so they know you care about their performance.” Just as children can tell when adults aren’t really interested in what they are saying sometimes, so can adults tell when they are not being taken seriously.

Since teen services can sometimes be on the back-burner when it comes to funding and attention because it can be difficult to “reach teens,” it is important to maintain a team that will work together to get things done and to highlight the successes as a way to keep it thriving. Furthermore, when people feel valued, won’t they in turn give their best?

So who is this article for? Everyone! Whether you’re a current manager, a student studying library & information science, or you have interest in becoming a youth services manager one day, there’s something there for you. Readers can glean a thing or two from the various suggestions given to help them manage better right now or prepare to reach their goals of one day managing a youth services department.

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