Budgeting: Or, How Much Does That Cost?
As a new librarian, one of the first tasks is to find out how much you will be involved with the fiscal management of the library. Here are some questions to ask your principal or superintendent:
Knowing answers to these questions will be helpful.
Guidelines: Or, Get It In Writing
We like to think of libraries as peaceful, quiet places where people are always nice to each other. Much of the time this is true. There are times, however, when libraries are not so quiet. In fact, sometimes libraries can become downright controversial.
For example, sometimes there are people who do not like some of the books or other materials that a library makes available to the community. Or an employee may feel that she has been treated unfairly. Or somebody’s behavior disturbs other patrons. Or someone claims that his books have been returned, although the library’s records show that they are still checked out. Read the document below to learn how to respond to these situations and about tips on preparing a guidelines manual.
Planning: Or, If I Knew Where We Were Going ...?
Planning is an important part of the work of librarians. With limited resources, it is important that your library use what it has in a strategic, systematic matter. Unplanned changes usually cost more in time and money than changes that are thought out in advance. Planning can help secure funds from outside sources. A well constructed plan shows funders that the library knows what needs to be done for the community. It also is an indicator of a fiscally responsible agency.
Planning is considered to be so important by the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) that Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants are not available to libraries without written plans.
In our dynamically changing environment, strategic planning helps a library be more responsive that the traditional long-range plan of the past. Writing a strategic plan is not enough, however. Once the plan is written, you have to follow it and monitor it. If your library already has a written plan, you should be using it as you make decisions throughout the year.
To find out if you have a plan, look for a copy in your policy manual or other materials that you obtained from the previous librarian or principal. If you cannot find a plan, ask your principal or district librarian. If it has, ask for a copy.
In a well written plan, you will find activities for each year. You can use these activities to help you make decisions about what your library will be doing. Sometimes activities cannot be carried out, in which case you should decide whether to continue, modify, or drop the activity. This should be done on regular basis, with an overall review of the plan at least once a year.
If your library has not yet written a plan, you need to think about doing so.
One planning process that is recommended for public libraries appears in a book entitled Strategic Planning for Results, by Sandra Nelson for the Public Library Division of the American Library Association. There are other planning models that also can be used.
School librarians should explore AASL tools for planning.
Procedures: Or, Where's the Light Switch?
A brand new director walked into her one-person library for the first time. She had worked in libraries before. She had highly developed library skills. The school had been lucky to find such a qualified person. They had given her a key and a policy manual. She arrived early enough to open the library with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, no one had thought to tell her where the light switches were located, so she spent a lot of time trying to find them, and then trying to find someone who knew where they were. The first day was not off to a good start.
Whether we like it or not, school libraries, like all organizations, are dependent on routine. We keep regularly scheduled hours; we shelve books consistently in the same manner; we use the same procedures to check out materials and check them back in; we catalog materials using the same system, day in and day out. If we did not follow these routines, our libraries would be disorganized, no one could ever find anything, and our customers would never know what to expect from us.
Read the document to gain tips on developing a procedures manual.
Statistics: Or, What Numbers Do You Have?
The sites linked below may be useful to anyone interested in library data in other states and at the national level.
COMPASS Ada and Canyon County Maps, etc.