Monday, August 03, 2015

5 Simple Questions to Inspire Your Service

I'm in my fourth week on the new job, and am really starting to feel like 1) I'm part of something great, and more importantly 2) I CAN DO THIS. Oh and also 3) holy-crap-I-live-in-Oregon-how-did-that-even-happen. That last feeling is mostly on my drives through the county when I actually take in the incomparable beauty of my new home. It will probably last for awhile.

One of the things I had planned to do from the beginning was try to meet every one of the youth librarians I'll work alongside and tour their space. In the middle of summer reading. I know: I'm already The Worst; it can only go up from here! But truthfully, I have been so fortunate to be welcomed warmly and have scheduled sit-down chats with nearly all of the member youth librarians, with a last few ironing out a time.

I wanted to share the questions I'm asking to see which member librarians I haven't met yet read my blog and will be prepared when I see them. Just kidding. Clearly. I actually wanted to share them because I've found them to produce such a wealth of information and have inspired so many ideas that I think everyone should do this with their own colleagues immediately, whether you've known each other for decades or if you're just starting out; if you're a student or unemployed, you can ask these of your mentors or squirrel them away for when you're a new hire.

These questions are designed to get sense of historical insight, to see the thought process that has brought our Cooperative to present day. I've found in my visits that every library in the Cooperative uses the space they have to best serve their vastly different communities in unique and targeted ways; it's awe-inspiring, really.

I first ask for a tour of the space, and here are a few questions I've thought up as I've visited different libraries:
-What special collections do you circulate?
-What WCCLS (i.e., me)-created resources and services does your community use the most?
-What world languages do you circulate? (This has been so fascinating to me. One library has a wall full of books in 20 languages; another library 25 minutes away has half their entire collection in Spanish. This county is as diverse in service as it comes!)

Afterward, we retire to an office or work room and I ask the following questions. I don't take notes, as these questions create a story in my brain so I can remember:

1. Can you tell me a little bit about your summer reading program?  I found out that with the diversity in service populations, every library's SRP is different. This usually ends up including the process of how their particular SRP came about.

2. How/Why did you become a librarian? We all have different stories and I love to hear them!

3. What is you favorite part about working at your library? My absolute favorite thing in the whole world is hearing someone talk about what they're most passionate about. Even if it's as simple as "getting hugs after storytime", hearing about someone's favorite part of their job lets me know what they value most.

4. What are some challenges you face as a YS librarian at this library or in the Cooperative? Do you have any tips for me? These have been some incredibly interesting discussions, and this is definitely a question I might not be able to ask so bluntly a month from now! I want to start, however, from a place of trust, and this question has given me great insight into what support each library needs and how I can honor each library's unique situations.

5. What is your favorite program you provide? Would you mind if I dropped in to see it sometime? Just like talking about passions, seeing people do what they do best, whatever it is, gets me so jazzed. I feel as though seeing YS librarians do their thing helps me understand them as librarians even more. And who doesn't have a favorite program they look forward to?

So those are my questions! How would you or your colleagues answer these?
EDIT: Mel wrote an awesome response to my questions! Let me know if you do, too. 


  1. Hi Bryce! I answered these questions in a blog post :)

  2. Hey-o Bryce! I've been stopping by your blog off-and-on for a couple of years. Now, I'm coming out of lurking-mode to say, "Hi!" Storytime University (via Storytime Underground) sent me out into the world-wide-web to earn my "read and comment" badge by engaging with someone's literacy blog.

    So here goes:

    And may I say, that this Q & A session was a good challenge. Could you challenge us readers (lurkers) again with another round of questions in the future? For introspection’s sake?

    1. Hi Dwayna! This is so awesome. Thank you so much for posting!

      You know? Maybe I will come up with some new questions now and again. My most recent post has to do with questions to ask when discussing change, so be sure to read that one! As a former reading coach, I love asking questions since I feel like it brings out the best in people. I recently asked that "how did you get into libraries?" question at a staff meeting and it was so funny-- people who had worked together for YEARS were finding out brand new things about their coworkers You've got my wheels turning. Stay tuned!

    2. I'll make sure to check it out soon. (My attention span this morning is terrible.) Good luck with the new gig!