Starting a new job can be tough, especially if you are a librarian. Here are a few tips that can make your career launch less painful, and even enjoyable!
1 Join a Local Library Association
This should be your first priority, whether you are new to the industry or just changing location. Library associations are great places to share information, get support and to keep abreast with latest events. In Zimbabwe, membership to the Zimbabwe Library Association is $20 for institutions, $100 for schools, and $70 for students. Get more details from their website here.
2 Join a mailing list
There are several types of mailing lists that you can be part of. A no-brainer is the one for your library association of course. But, you should also consider joining mailing lists for library software such as Koha. These can be great places to discuss a varying range of issues with librarians from all over the globe.
3 Use Social Media
Social media has become a very popular, and easy, means of communication and learning. Join groups dedicated to librarians on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, PInterest and more. These sites can be treasure troves for getting new ideas and learning new stuff.
4 Set Library Rules…And Stick to them
Libraries are often seen as places of strict discipline and serious study. And they should be. Make sure you set library rules at the beginning of the year and be consistent and constant in applying them. Be firm but be fair – you want your patrons to enjoy coming to the library and discover it’s secret pleasures. Examples of areas where you want to set good policies are consumption of food and liquids, fines, verbal and non-verbal interactions, bags, and use of resources such as computers. Make sure patrons know what to expect and are well-informed of the rules – you can post signs and warnings in strategic locations around the library.
5 Seating Charts
These can help you to manage primary and high school patrons much more easily. Assign permanent seats to your students and try to seat them in small groups (four is an ideal number) per table. They will spend less time trying to decide where to seat, and you can separate known mischief makers beforehand.
6 Get Your Patron’s Involved
Allow your patrons to help out in the library. They can help out with things like circulating books, shelving, stock-taking and orienting new patrons. It’ll require a fair bit of work to train them, but it’s rewarding in the long run. Oh, and don’t just use your patrons as cheap slave labour, look for fun ways to reward them.
Being a librarian makes you a key member of staff in any institution, for the simple reason that a library is the centre of learning. So use your position to build good relationships, especially with teachers/lecturers. Get to know them well and try to be as helpful as possible. Suggest books that might help them or their students, and get their input when ordering new resources for the library.
8 Be Positive
Managing a library can be very challenging, and sometimes monotonous. You can easily fall into the mould of the stereotype librarian – sullen, overly harsh, or downright miserable. Find ways to make your job more enjoyable through creativity and innovation.
9 Make Yourself Indispensable
It’s no secret that libraries are often the first to suffer budget cuts whenever a school or institution is in trouble. So you need to build a solid reputation as an indispensable member of the system. Without necessarily “sucking up” to the principal, make sure that he or she knows your worth – by your work. Give your principal regular updates about the library. Use statistics to your advantage – for example, you could send them a list of the top ten circulating books. Or, you could link the performance of the best performing students to their usage of the library.
10 Automate Your Library
If your library doesn’t have a management software, make it a priority to get one. A good library system will reduce your workload and help you to do things like cataloguing, circulation, stock-taking and reports quickly and easily. It will also make searching for resources faster and simpler for your patrons. There are lots of such software around – a good, low-cost and widely used example is Koha Integrated Library System. Contact us for more information on installing and using Koha.
What do you think of our tips? Are there any others that you think should have made our list? Let us know in the comments section below!