Librarian Skills: Attending a Conference

My favorite conference of the year is coming up this weekend!  The CYPD Conference is this Sunday and Monday.  Not only is it my favorite to attend, I’ve been luck enough to be on the board that plans this fabulous event.

CYPD was my first big library conference, and I’ve been lucky enough to have mulitple conference experiences since then (but still not ALA Annual, that’s the dream).  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you have a great time at your next conference!

A large bag, you need one.  Be it a tote bag, backpack, or a huge purse of doom, you need something to carry stuff!  Vendors will have swag for you (sometimes even a bag!) and you need a way to comfortably carry it around all day.  Instead of carrying my everyday purse, I also just pitch the essentials my conference bag.  Much simpler and less to keep track of.

WEAR LAYERS.  At some point, you will either be too hot or too cold.  The group/committee has very little control over the temperature in the building.  Bring a sweater.

Wear comfortable shoes.  Your feet will thank you.  (If you’re into the whole FitBit thing, make sure it’s charged before the conference.  Don’t miss those steps!)

Bring snacks!  Sometimes the conference will have snacks in the budget, other times not.  Don’t risk it being a no snack conference!  (Especially if you’re prone to hanger.)  Bringing some change for a vending machine isn’t a bad idea either.

Divide and conquer.  At some point, you will want to go to two conference sessions that are going on at the same time.  Unless you have a Time Turner, you will have to pick one of the two.  Talk to coworkers and friends who are going to the same conference before you go and see what sessions they’re going to.  There’s a good chance one of them is planning on going to one of the sessions you were also interested in.  Ask if they’ll share their notes from the session with you.  Offer to share your notes with them.  Help out your fellow librarian!

Be kind to vendors and speakers.   Vendors and speakers travel long miles and put in lots of prep work for these conferences.  Be courteous, and please use your manners.

Other suggestions?  Is anyone else going to CYPD this weekend?




Librarian Skills: Summer Reading Preparations, Part 1

It’s that time of year, folks.

Summer Reading is about to consume my every waking moment.

Well, not quite yet.  The panic doesn’t officially begin until May 1st when I claim no responsibility for anything I say or do until after Summer Reading.  THEN it’s time to panic.

Planning for SRP is a year round event.  Even when it’s no where near Summer, you’re still thinking about SRP.  You may come across a Pinterest craft in October that will be perfect for SRP.  A book that comes in in March will be just what you need for an SRP Storytime.  A parent will ask you in January when SRP starts.

And for some of us lucky few, we get to plan a program for multiple branches (six to be exact).  Six times the prizes, six times the paperwork, six times the programming, and six times the headache fun!

Here’s how my planning breaks down (our program runs from June 1st to August 1st, and we use the Collaborative Summer Library Program, for reference):


-CSLP disc and catalog is shipped to us from the State Library.

-We (the adult librarian, teen librarian, and I) go ahead and place an order for prize/staff t-shirts, prizes, and posters immediately.  As it gets closer to Summer, they do run out of some of the materials, so we like to make sure we get what we want.  We have the numbers from past Summers for reference in terms of how much to order.

-Begin looking through files on the disc to get ideas.  I will print out certain portions of the manual because it’s easier for me to look through it.  I flag any programming ideas that appeal to me


-Begin looking for a kick-off event.  We host a big kick-off event for the whole family at each of our six branches for SRP.  I typically start getting fliers/advertisements from different vendors in January.  I just like to get this done and out of the way ASAP.

-Look for an intern.  My library is fortunate to be a hop, skip, and a jump from a university with a Department of Library and Information Sciences.  Without someone to help out during the Summer, there is NO WAY we could have programming at our branches- end of story.  Interns gain real-world programming experience by doing these programs for me.  Fun fact: I started my library career at the library I’m working at as the Summer Reading Intern.

-New books.  Publishers are very in tune to what we’re doing for Summer Reading.  About this time of year, there are (conveniently) a TON of new books that will be perfect for this year’s theme, whatever it may be.  Time to stock up!

This finishes up the preliminary Summer Reading plans.  March is when things really go into high gear…..






Librarian Skills: Illness Prevention

The Tiny Human has been sick.  I’m starting to hack my head off.  Many of my coworkers have been ILL.  A few others have had minor sniffles or ongoing allergy issues (yes, allergies strike in Winter, trust me on this one).  Those of us who aren’t sick are doing our best to avoid whatever staff and patrons are dragging in with them.

So how does one avoid illness when working with the public?  Very carefully!

*Please note, I have no medical training of any kind.  This are observations and practices I have developed based on my own experience.  Contact your medical provider with questions.  Results may vary.*


1.) If this is your first time working with the public (especially if you’re working with kids), you’re going to get sick.

I’m sorry, but that’s just how it goes.  Your body needs time to build up immunities and if this is your first time working the circ desk, you’re going to catch everything that comes in.  Start stocking up on tissues, cough drops, and pain medication.


2.) Wash your hands. 

We all know this is one of the best ways to keep illness from spreading.  Hand sanitizer will work in a pinch.  Also, try to cough/sneeze into your elbow, not on your hands.


3.) Get a Flu Shot. 

Trust me, this helps. It’s fairly affordable, with or without insurance.  Many workplaces will even pay for their employees to get a flu shot.


And here is the biggie…..



Do you have a fever?  Can you not spend more than 10 minutes away from a bathroom?  Has a medical professional told you to stay home from work?  THEN DON’T COME TO WORK.  Seriously.  Stay home.  Rest.  Get well.  Keep whatever you have to yourself, we don’t want it here.  The library will run without you. (Another Disclaimer: Check with your employers sick leave policy.) 


That being said, if you are not sick, please come to work.  We need you.


What are your illness prevention measures?


Librarian Skills: Vacation Preparation

Vacation is upon us!  Well, at least it is for me.  I had scheduled some time off in December early on in the year.  A few weeks ago, after consulting with our library’s scheduling goddess (really, I have no idea how she does it), we realized I had a few more vacation days that needed to be used.  Thus, I will be off work from December 13-December 26 (other than a training I’m going to).  Wow.

But before vacation starts, I need to take care of a few things here at work.  I’m lucky to have an awesome staff who keep the Youth Services department running smoothly at all times, so that’s never a worry (no pressure girls!).  I do try to leave them a list of special projects to work on, as well as a list of projects for our volunteers.  We’re heading into our “slow season,” so it’s a good time to clean house and get some things back in order.  The only thing out of the ordinary is that my staff needs to view a webinar about some changes coming to our circulation program.  My director is going to make sure all of them see the webinar before the changes take place.

Because my vacation falls in the middle of the month, however, there are some business things that need to be taken care of.  What needs to be done before I can have some fun?

-Schedule for January

-Monthly Board Report (early meeting due to the holidays)

-Final book orders for the year

-Final craft supply order for the year

-Winter Reading Program- Our WRP begins in January but we’re sending everything out to our branches next week.  Many of our staff members have vacation time coming up and we want everyone to have a chance to look over the program information before it starts.

I also need to do little things, like set up my auto-respond email message and voice mail (if I can figure out my phone), and maybe clear off my desk a bit.  I doubt the last one will happen.

What do you do to prepare for vacation?


Librarian Skills: Schedule Organization

My name is Alyssa and I am an Organized Mess.


This is my desk.

Right Desk

This is my bookshelf.

Left Desk

This is to the left of my desk (hi Princess Labelmaker!).

Behind Desk

This is behind my desk.


Yes, this looks like a pigsty (my home is far worse) and I should probably be ashamed to share it with the world.

But you’d better believe I know where EVERYTHING is in my office.  Could I send someone to find something in my office?  Absolutely not, but I could find anything in less than 60 seconds.

Except for the stapler remover.  I can never find my stapler remover.

I may not be good at organizing a space, but I would like to say that I’m pretty good when it comes to organizing a schedule.  Since I’m the head of a department, I have to be able to sort out a monthly schedule for my self and my staff.  How do I do it?


Organizational Tool #1: The Yearly Calendar

Every year, I create a calendar in Microsoft Publisher for programming.  This includes weekly programs, special program, and class visits.  I go through and try to fill in all of the weekly programs for the year; I add the other programs as the year goes on.  There are some programs, I know immediately who is doing what and fill in their name (i.e. weekly storytime).  For other programs, I fill in who is doing what on a monthly basis (i.e. class visits).

On the whole, this is a calendar for my eyes and my purposes only.  Every month, I will print out the monthly calendar for each staff member and one copy for our Circulation Manager, who creates the master work schedule.


Organizational Tool #2: The Weekly Planner

We keep a weekly planner  like this one on our circulation desk at all times.  It lists every program we have during the week, as well as who is doing the program.  Again, I fill out a big chuck of it at the beginning of the year and then add to it as the year goes on.  It has also been helpful to write down our local school schedule in this planner, so we know when the kids are on  break.

I’ll also make a note of when I have a meeting.  We don’t write down any vacations or personal appointments on this calendar because it is in public view.


Organizational Tools #3, #4, and #5- Personal Planner, Desk Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook Calendar

Ok, so this all boils down to how I keep myself organized.  And yes, it requires three calendars.  All three calendars contain the following information:

-My programs and meetings

-Personal appointments

-Appointments for my son

Personal PlannerThis planner is always in my work bag (which is worthy of it’s own separate post).  It’s what I have on my person 95% of the time, making it easy to add info to.  It’s also where I keep track of birthdays and when payday is. 🙂 (Sidenote: I’ve tried 503 different smartphone planner/organizing apps and have HATED all of them.  Paper planners 4 life!)

Desk Calendar- In addition to making a large and fancy coaster, this calendar gives me a quick glance of what’s going on during the month.  Very helpful during phone calls when I’m trying to schedule quick meetings or class visits.

Microsoft Outlook Calendar– This calendar is attached to my work email.   I keep a lot of future dates scheduled here before placing them on any other calendar.  It also sends me reminder messages of when things are coming up.

Why three calendars with essentially the same information in each one?  My brain requires repetition in order to remember something, particularly dates.  By having to record the same information in several different places, it becomes easier for me to remember the date without having to look at the calendar.


Maybe one day I’ll apply the same effort to cleaning my office that I do to organizing my schedule….


How do you organize your schedule?