Because librarians are all about service, we always want to leave things in the best situation we can. Here are some tips that should help ease the transition for you, your employer, and the person who will be stepping into your shoes.
Give Ample NoticeOf course, giving two weeks' notice (at least) is good form, as is making sure that your boss knows before you tell any coworkers, and before you post anything on social media. This is all common sense, but always bears repeating.
It's up to you if you want to let any regular patrons and families know that you will be leaving. If you do, you may encounter unwanted attention or even tears, but not giving notice may leave your patrons feeling confused or abandoned. It's absolutely up to you; I have found that telling people at programs (such as storytime) is a good way to let everyone know, while avoiding making a big show of things. Then again, if you are retiring (or even if you're not), you may want to throw yourself a big party. It's absolutely your call!
It's also a good idea to let any community contacts know that you're leaving. If you're the point person for the local school district, contact them and let them know who they should be speaking with, instead.
Leave Things In Good OrderAs public service professionals, a librarian's main concern is the public. While it may be tempting to slack off and not care what happens once we're gone, the truth is that we do care (or we wouldn't be in this line of work). Leaving everything in good order is not just the professional way, it's also just plain considerate. This includes:
- Make plans for upcoming programs. - Many of us plan programs weeks or even months in advance, and leaving a job with only a couple weeks' notice doesn't give as much time to tie up loose ends as we'd like. Take time to discuss with your supervisor any upcoming events on the calendar. Will they be canceled, or will someone else be able to run them? If a performer is scheduled, be sure to send along any contact information to your supervisor, and alert the performer of correct person to speak in your absence.
- Make plans for upcoming book orders and subscriptions. - Even the most prepared new hire will need some time to get their feet under them when in a new position. If you take care of any book ordering or subscriptions, make sure they're set up for a couple months after you're gone. (For example, have carts of books ready for purchase with anticipated titles.)
- Leave a list of passwords and other log-in information that may be needed. - You'd be surprised how often a staff laptop is sitting around with nobody able to log in, or a professional social media account with nobody authorized to run it! If you aren't comfortable leaving passwords (for example, social media is often linked to personal accounts), make sure administrative power is granted to someone actively working at your library. They can always transfer power to a new person later.
- Write instructions for any quirky things to know. - Sure, you know that when this specific patron comes in and asks for a mystery, they mean the newest Joanne Fluke cozy, but how the heck would anybody else know? Think of as many random tidbits of information you can, and write them down. Save your replacement oodles of time!
- Leave a note for the person who will be filling your shoes - Every library has its own community and its own likes and dislikes. (My current library, for example, has very little interest in fantasy novels, which is very unusual in my experience!) Make some notes. What has been successful? What hasn't gone over well? What days should you totally avoid holding programs because that's when everyone in town goes to Zumba? If your replacement decides not to use this information, that's their choice, but nobody can say you didn't try to start them off on a good foot.
- Set up an email away message. - Your work email may be deactivated right away, or it may take a great deal of time, but in either case, it's probably a good idea to set up an away message stating that you are no longer reachable at this library, and letting your contacts know who the correct person to reach out to will be going forward, whether it's your replacement (if known) or your supervisor.
Take Care of Your Own NeedsYou've cleaned out your desk and made sure you grabbed all the photos of your cats, that Tide pen that lives in your top drawer, and your Nancy Pearl action figure. What more could you possibly need to do?
- Copy any digital files you want to keep. - Did you really spend hours making up a Winter Reading Challenge BINGO board, only to leave it behind? Check and see if there are any book lists, information fliers, pamphlets, or the like that you may be able to adapt to your new environment, and stick them on a flash drive. Not sure if you want it? Luckily, digital files don't take up that much space.
- Clean your workspace. - As mentioned, of course make sure that you get any of your own personal items. Also, make sure you leave everything else in good order. That stapler you borrowed from cataloging? Bring it back. Those genre stickers shoved in your desk drawer? Organize them quickly. Maybe even give your desk a quick swipe down with a bleach wipe. If nothing else, it'll force you to go through everything one last time and make sure you have all your personal items.
- Go through storage. - I'm always amazed at how many craft samples or program posters I save. Do you want to take these things with you? If not, will anyone else really want to keep them around? Save staff the trouble and get rid of unnecessary stuff, being sure to grab anything you know you want to hold onto. (This will also help you remember things that you personally own that may have been shuffled to storage for safekeeping, like that raccoon puppet that comes out at storytime every year or so, but really belongs to you.)
- Make a list of contacts you would like to keep. - Whether you're moving to the next town over or across the country, there may be some professional contacts you would like to keep. Send your personal email a list of contacts, so you can easily find that performer you loved, that author who gave the amazing talk, that vendor with the exceptional books. If you never use the contacts list, that's okay, but it's always better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it. (You may also want to share these contacts with your replacement.)
- Prepare for later. - Of course, your new job is going to be perfect and you're never ever going to leave it. But just in case: it can't hurt to get written references from supervisors to keep in your pocket. It also can't hurt to make sure your resume is in perfect order, adding in all your job responsibilities while they are fresh in your mind. If you are leaving for another job, you have likely done this for the job search, but if you're leaving for another reason - to stay home with your kids, or to take care of a parent, or maybe to travel the world - you may not have done this already.