Friday, August 4, 2017

7 Tips for the Newbie Library Director

Congratulations, you have landed the coveted role as a Library Director! But what to do now? This was a question posted on ALATT Facebook Group, and there were so many great responses, we thought we'd record them below so they would not be lost in the black hole of the internet.

1. Find Mentors

Reach out to other directors in the area. They will make a great sounding board and resource.

2. Interact with All Staff

Don't hide in your office. Meet with all staff members, not just your supervisors. Work with staff on the desk and out in the stacks. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Give them opportunities to shine and ask for feedback. Help them re-tailor their jobs so they can love it as much as they can. Make sure to establish clear boundaries between boss and friends (No Facebook!).

3. Support Staff

Attend staff programs so they know you care and patrons can also interact with you, too. Ask questions about their workflow. Every library does things differently and there's usually something that can be improved. Ask them what their biggest challenges are and find ways to help them through them.

4. Reach Out to the Community

Create community contacts (PTO/PTA,Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business, United Way, Lion's Club, EDC, etc.) for possible donations, supporters, etc. Attend all meetings so they can become familiar with the library and you get to learn more about your community. This will help with knowing who's who in your community and for collection development and program planning.

5. Read, Read, Read

Read the minutes from previous board meetings. Read the Trustee manual, internal procedures, State and Federal laws, flowcharts, who's who in the internal and external environment, history of your library/library system, human resources files: the resum├ęs of your people, if you have a person covered by ADA in your staff and so on. Learn the HR rules in your state.

6. Remember:

  • There is very little that you can do which cannot be fixed. It might take time and money, but they can be remedied. So, don't worry about mistakes!
  • Treat your first year as your learning year. Listen, watch, assess, then take action.
  • Morale is your number one asset. Treasure it, nurture it, do not let an individual destroy a team. 
  • You don't have to fake it to make it. Just act as what you think a dynamic holder of the position would look and plan to grow into that full role.

7. Visit the Library Directors' website

Lastly, you can connect with a broader group of library directors through the Join the listserv, check out their long list of resources, and more! If you are active on Facebook, you can also join the Library Management Group.

Do you have any tips for new directors? Please share below.

Like this article? Check out:

Management 101: What to Be & What to Do
Management 101: A Manager Should Not, A Manager Should Know, A Manager Should Remember


  1. So grateful for this blog! I am staying sane as a new director thanks to the valuable resources and information here. Can you recommend any sites or resources for a solo librarian?

    1. Thank you, glad our blog has been helpful. :) There are many great blogs and websites out there, but the question is: what are you most interested in? RA? Social media? Advertising? Programming? Productivity? I am not sure what other directors find valuable -- that is a good question for the listserv on background is YA) It is a great question, though. Please share if you hear of any good ones!