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Thursday, January 13, 2011

RA Staff Meeting

I have a day of meetings scheduled throughout the day today (first one in 20 minutes), so I thought this was a good time to talk about staff meetings.

Our fearless leader Kathy, schedules about 6 RA staff meetings per year (we try for every other month).  She gets an agenda together ahead of time, asks us to prepare for the discussion, and also selects a topic so that we all book talk at least one title.  Some times, I also provide a quick training exercise for the group to do.

Today we are meeting to hammer out the details of the 2011 Summer Reading Program.  Yes, we are talking about it now, in January.  If you run an Adult Summer Reading Program, I suggest you gather your staff by February to start planning.  Today we will hammer out the details of displays, give-aways, prizes, and the overall look of the program.  Our theme is "Novel Destinations."

We are also going to have a chance to ask Kathy questions about the goals for 2011.  I should note here that in the early Fall we all met with Kathy separately to discuss our personal and department goals with her.  Then, later in the Fall we got together as a group and talked about who would be responsible for what in 2011.  Now today, we have had time to think about it, and can work out any kinks early in 2011, so that we are all moving in the same direction as a team.

Finally, we will be book talking one of our favorites from 2010.  I am doing this one.

"So," you may be asking, "why should we care what you are doing at your meeting today?" Well, I am using it as an example of good RA staff training.  Like many libraries, our department is made up of both full time and part-time people.  These meetings, at the very least, serve as a chance for us to get together for 60-90 minutes as a unit and talk about how things are going.  Yes, the planning and training is important, but it is this chance to have someone else cover our desk, allowing us to be all together, that allows us to improve our service to our patrons.

We also all get a chance to have a say in larger programs such as Summer Reading.  While, for example, John is responsible for getting the displays physically up, we are all responsible for coming up with the ideas, making the lists, and writing the annotations.  Even if we are not in charge of a specific display, we are all aware of what is going on.  This is important.  When a display is up in your department, each staff member needs to be aware of the details behind its creation.  Otherwise, how can we help our patrons use it to find their next good read.

It is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day details of serving patrons and keeping ahead of the most immediate projects, but it is only when your staff can come together as a team and look at the larger picture that your patron service goes from average to great.

Not to mention how much I love hearing what books everyone has been reading.

The point of this post is simply to remind you that no matter how busy you are, taking the time for staff meetings is never a waste of your time.  If you haven't been good about holding staff meetings and training, why not use the new year as a chance to start having them?

Also, let me know what your library does, and whether or not it helps or hinders your service to patrons.


Laurel said...

Could you post some of your quick training exercises? I've passed your RA meeting idea around to a few of my colleagues, and everyone loves it, but none of us know of any training exercises. Thanks.

Becky said...

Laurel, I will post those soon. Thanks for asking.