Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2005-04-19

The Accidental Library Manager

[N.B.: This article will appear in a forthcoming issue of The One Person Library Newsletter, published by preconference speaker Judith Seiss.]

When librarians make lists of professional goals, the phrase “Get a managerial job” often does not make the list. And that’s a shame, says Rachel Singer Gordon, because often, librarians with no managerial aspirations become managers themselves, with little or no training to help them settle into and thrive in their new roles.

What can accidental library managers do to ameliorate their situations? Gordon provides a handful of practical tips for managing the managerial experience:

  • Realize managing is all about people: communicating effectively with your fellow administrators, staff, board members, and higher ups will be the key to managerial success.
  • Understand that you’re not alone: a majority of library managers didn’t intend to manage, so you’re in good company.
  • Trust yourself: even if you haven’t had any formal managerial training, you have probably acquired skills that apply to managing a department or even an entire library. These include committee work, event planning, project management, child rearing, team captainship, and more. Don’t be afraid to mess up – if you admit your mistake and learn from it, people will respect you.
  • Be the manager your staff should emulate: armed with the knowledge that Generation X & Y workers are more loyal to people than to institutions, think about how to earn that loyalty if you want to harness and nurture their energy.
  • Be your own job coach: Ask yourself the tough questions, like “Do I want to stay in management? Do I want to move up? Do I want to move back to a non-managerial position?” Take charge of your own career, so that you can be open to happy accidents, and take advantage of interesting opportunities as they arise.

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