Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Library Page Boot Camp Training Plan

Y'all I am SO, so, SO excited! I feel really prepared and ready for my new library pages and I thought I'd share my training plan with you guys in case it could be helpful for you.

The nuts & bolts of my plan really boil down to communicating my specific expectations to them. I think this is a big part of what went south last year--sometimes something is so familiar to us that it becomes a "well, of course, they get this--it's so obvious" when really it is anything but obvious to someone new to the work-in-the-library world.

To prepare for creating this plan I studied two sets of companies: those who are known for fabulous customer service, and those that are known as great FUN places to work.  I studied the training programs of Chick-Fil-A and The Ritz-Carlton, of Apple and Disney and Southwest Airlines. There are definite overlaps in the two listings, which speaks volumes regarding the way folks feel when they are given the proper training.  Nothing feels better than a job well done (okay, so there may be a few things--but you get what I'm saying here!) I also read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White, and of course applied the wisdom of Marie Forleo.

I want to keep the training simple and straightforward, yet *hopefully* not bore them to tears. In keeping with that, I have created a three-fold approach per class period with student pages--yes, it will be repetitive for me, as well as being an investment of time.  I believe it will pay off in the end. Each day we will 1.team build, 2.learn a new skill, and 3. review & reward. I haven't included specific team-building exercises in my list.  I'm still thinking on what will work best with such a small amount of people, but basically my goal is that they will actually KNOW one another and be able to work together as a team.

1. Day One. We do a short intro. Kids will receive their Training Guide and fill out a short information sheet about themselves. We will go over any and all questions they may have regarding the guide.  There will be snacks.  Snacks are good.  Snacks create a hey-I-care-about-you warm fuzzy vibe.  We appreciate snacks at meetings.  Teens appreciate snacks at meetings.

2. Day Two. We tour the library. Yes, all my pages are seniors--but to assume they know the sections of the library would be a mistake ---one that I definitely made last year! They will be introduced to the super-secret inner sanctum of the library (okay, the supply closet, but whatever.) We spend time on what it means to "posh" the library (that's what I call cleaning & straightening the library and is explained in the training guide above) with specific real-life examples. We move on to working the copy machine and shutting down computers.

3. Day Three. Shelving 101. We start with fiction because that seems to be the easiest to comprehend for most people. Because I am transitioning into genre-fied fiction sections, this one will come with a warning that change is coming and explanations of the shifting spine labels. I'll move into the other shelving specifics and the pace will be determined by how well the students are getting it. I plan to make videos going over the details of the various types of shelving for the kids to watch, and I'll link them here when I have them completed.

4. Day Four.  We do a super quick review of shelving and then practice for the bulk of the class period.  We will learn to shelf read on Day Four, as well.

5. Day Five. Boot camp survival certification day! This will be the first celebration my library pages earn. I know it may sound a bit silly, but I honestly plan to have certificates for them and a little ceremony.  Do I think they will keep these forever?  Heck no, but I hope it will be a fun way to show them recognition for a job well done.  These certificates will be their storing place for future badges to be earned, as well. I had considered something digital, but we really aren't set up for that at this point. Also, one of the regular rewards my kids can earn are special passes for 30 minutes of free time to be used as they need/want to use them.

So, this is the basic boot camp training plan I've made for the year. After my kids have mastered the boot camp skills, those who are ready will move on to the Ninja Jedi skills of processing magazines and then books. I'd love to hear your feedback and want to know what you have done in your training of student aides that has been super successful!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Library Page Boot Camp

Over the past couple of weeks, I've started developing my new-and-improved training for my library pages. I've done a lot of brainstorming and have asked an awesome librarian friend of mine to brainstorm with me because I really, really want to get this right this year. 

The one thing I've totally committed to doing is to refer to them as Library Pages--mainly because it tickles me. I mean, seriously doesn't Page just feel more bookish than Aide or Assistant or Clerk?  So, Page it is. Whew! It feels so good to have that major point settled! ;)

Last year, while I loved my students and appreciate what they did do, the training I provided was severely lacking.  This became more apparent as time went on, and I'm determined to make some serious changes in my training program so that the library runs more smoothly and we are all um...on the same page, as it were.  
(Yes, I have the Nerdy Humor Sickness.  It's a Thing and I totally have it.)
If any of y'all out there have some great suggestions you'd love to share I'm all ears, by the way--but here are the nuts & bolts of my thoughts at this point of my work-in-progress:
  1. My goal is to train them & treat them in a way that encourages a strong work ethic.  I don't want a lot of sitting around or staring at screens.  We have student pages because we need them to do work.
  2. I want it to be FUN.  Okay, so we know a training (and the work itself) won't be Broadway show fun or county fair fun, but you know what I mean, right?
  3. I want the expectations to be crystal clear.
  4. I want a working environment that encourages self-motivated workers, but also is a safe place to ask questions without fear of appearing dumb.
  5. I want to reward a job well done. 
  6. The basics they need to know are: shelving fiction, shelving non-fiction, shelf-reading, keeping the library organized, neat & pretty, and working the circ desk.
  7. The second-tier skills they need are working the copier and processing magazines and books.
  8. These can be "boring" skills to learn, so I want to add some interesting ways to impart the knowledge--some video, something interactive, etc.
I want them to know that I love to be able to write strong recommendation letters for both scholarship and work opportunities for my kids.  I want them to know that hard work pays off. I want them to take pride in a job well done and feel a strong connection to the library being amazing in part because of all they do.

I am looking for ideas I can incorporate specifically from companies who are well-known for creating awesome work environments for their employees.  It isn't enough for me to have kids who are just assigned to work in the library for a class period their senior year--ultimately, I want pages who LOVE to be there. 

What are YOUR thoughts?

image from http://crossfitliger.com/boot-camp/

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Promoting your library

Back in April, I wrote a blog post called "Librarian as Change Agent" that lists several things you can do as a librarian to be the positive change in your library, your school, & your community regarding how the library is viewed.

One of the points listed is promoting yourself and your library. I believe this is something many of us struggle with---even those of us who are typically extroverts---because we don't want to be seen as braggarts.

We MUST overcome the idea that to self-promote is a negative thing.  FOLKS...we have an excellent "product" (and if you don't feel you do---fix it to make it so!) and we must shout it from the rooftops. We can sing the praises of the library to each other and bemoan the fact that the word is not getting out OR we can take an active role in getting that word out.

Libraries have grown, shifted, and evolved through the years.  We are not our grandma's libraries; we are not even our mama's libraries.  Our stakeholders will not have any idea what we can offer them if they are not informed. Yes, we are still curators of information and keepers of knowledge, but that looks very different today in some ways than it did even 15 years ago.  We are bastions of literacy of all types.  We are techie-wonderlands and hands-on learning environments and inclusive safe havens for everyone.  We have both serenity and FUN depending upon our activities at the time.

(listen to Ms. Whitney now to get a peek inside my head on this topic!)

Libraries ARE so much to so many.
It is downright amazing if you really stop to think about it.
AND...our services are FREE to our incredible stakeholders.
Now, why on earth should we not be incredibly PROUD to promote that?

In my never-ending quest to improve myself and my endeavors, I have come across a pretty amazing woman named Marie Forleo.  She is a multi-passionate life coach whose work is aimed primarily at entrepreneurs.  I have found, however, that her work also applies beautifully to libraries and librarians. If you think about it, we are a "small businesses" trying to improve and increase our client communication so that word of our incredible services and products can reach the largest audience possible.  We are trying to connect with those we can serve. 

I subscribe to her newsletter and watch her videos, and I must say I've gleaned much from her work. She is also FUN and a bit quirky, and I like that very much. I have embedded her self-promotion video in this post, and I hope you'll watch it and feel that shift happen in your mind and in your heart about self-promotion of our libraries.

What do YOU do to promote your library amongst your various stakeholders?
I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In the middle

July 7th,  mid-point of my summer vacation.  I will go back to work one month from today. As I've mentioned in a couple of posts, I've been working on several projects this summer but the main task has been KonMari-ing my home.  (see The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo) and I've reached that mid-point, too, of organization vs. clutter explosion.

Stuff is, quite literally, EVERYWHERE.  Ack!

To put it gently, I'd not let you in my living room if you knocked on my door right now, even if you were my sweet mama. Oh, I'd bring you some sweet tea or lemonade in a mason jar with lots of ice and we could sit outside under the trees and chat.  But not.in.the.house.

Much progress has been made to be sure.  I have hauled bag upon bag to the thrift shop, and each and every Thursday my trash has been filled to overflowing. (my hubby says nothing else will fit in there, but I make it work each and every time. so what if the lid doesn't shut, amiright?!)

I have 2 boxes of ribbons and mum supplies to donate to our floral design class at the high school. I've taken 2 boxes of pretty papers and other scrapbooking supplies to my library office so they can be used by students needing stuff for projects next year. 

I've got 3 craft projects going right now.  These are things that have been sitting around my house for a couple of years now--intended to be cool stuff for the library that instead were just taking up space. This summer spray paint has been purchased and USED! My almost 13-year-old is working on creating a fabulous tabletop display for my library by decoupaging an old 3-legged table, spray painted red, with pictures from weeded graphic novels. I've painted an old globe with black chalkboard paint. You know, those Pinterest projects that never get done?  Well, they are finally happening, folks.

Momentum is a good thing, and I really need it to see me through.  I'm just in the middle.  4 more weeks to get things done (and up out of the middle of my living room. and my bedroom. and my closet.)

I have new piles of bags & boxes to be taken to the thrift shop (are you singing Macklemore in your head now, cause I am!) once I get a few more ready. I have more sacks of paper trash just waiting to be put in the large outside can (I know this sounds weird--but believe you me it only takes one week of not being able to fit your kitchen trash in the outside can because you already filled it with paper-trash-which-will-not-make-your-house-reek to teach you that it is worth the minor irritation.)

So, here I am in the middle of it all.  I'm feeling pretty good even though we are definitely at that it-has-all-been-dragged-out-so-I-can-look-at-it phase.  I try not to feel guilt that I am not letting my kids play with their friends inside the house just yet.  I know in the long run if I can make this summer REALLY count in the decluttering it will pay off for all of us with less chaos and more joy.