“FIZZ…BOOM!” Managing Librarian’s Stress!

By Cherie Roeth

Hi There…I am Cherie from Bradford Public Library! I know that all of you are busy, busy, busy and getting ready for Summer Reading programs is just one more “weight” on your shoulders! Instead of giving you lots of research about Stress Management, I just want to hit the highlights! Pick and choose what will work for you so that the next few months will not
“fizzle your brain” or create a “booming situation” in your own library!

I came across this article created by Edmond Otis for the Infohio Project (infopeople.org).
The bibliographic information is at the bottom of this blog!! Here goes!

The “Bakers Dozen” – How to Reduce Stress

Many stresses can be changed, eliminated or minimized. Here are some things you can do to reduce your level of stress:
(Note: I have tried many of these over the years and they really work for me! Cherie)

1. Become aware of your own reactions to stress.*
2. Reinforce positive self-statements.*
3. Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments.*
4. Avoid unnecessary competition.
5. Develop assertive behaviors.*
6. Recognize and accept your limits. Remember that everyone is unique and different.*
7. Get a hobby or two. Try to Relax and have fun.*
8. Exercise regularly.
9. Eat a balanced diet daily.*
10. Talk with friends or someone you can trust about your worries/problems.
11. Set priorities and learn to use your time wisely:*
• Evaluate how you are budgeting your time.
• Plan ahead and avoid procrastination.
• Make a daily/weekly schedule and try to follow it.
12. Set realistic goals*
13. Practice relaxation techniques. For example, whenever you feel tense, slowly breathe in and out for several minutes.*

Cherie’s Afterthoughts! The Baker’s Dozen that have an (*) are the ones that have been successful for me!

• Don’t try them all at once.
• Pick one or two to begin with.
• Give them ample time so that you see some personal success (Perhaps 2-4 weeks)
• What you find to be successful stress reduction techniques will soon become a part of your daily life in the “long run!”
• Remember to also find the “gifts and talents in others” so that you will be able to delegate some of your “stressors” to others!!

1 Otis, Edmond. “The “Bakers Dozen” – How to Reduce Stress.” Created in support of the Infopeople Project (infopeople.org) and supported by the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services. Summer 2007-Winter 2008. (Found on the following website on 3-31-14: http://www.librarianbyday.net 2009/02/13)


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Who, What, Where, Why, When, and Hows of Passive Programing

Amanda Bennett, Director
Ada Public Library; Ada, OH

You may have heard the term “passive programming” thrown around lately in the library world, but what does it mean exactly? In the simplest of terms passive programs alludes to programming which requires little or no effort or money for the library’s part, with simple set up and little to no supervision. Ideal for small libraries, right?

Who benefits from this?: Everyone. As we all know, programming can be tough for smaller libraries; we don’t have the budgets or the prep time to do as much as we’d like to do, so passive programs are a win-win for everyone.

What: Passive programs can be anything that engages your audience; get creative, and if you’re not the creative sort, get Google. Search passive programs, or see a list of suggestions below.

Where: All over your library: Children’s movies, Teen minute-to-win-it challenges, speakers for all ages, and the list goes on and on!

Why: Keeping our patrons happy with and engaged at our libraries is every library’s dream, right? Being a small library shouldn’t automatically prohibit our abilities to serve our populations.

When: Whenever you can fit it into your schedule! Since passive programming requires so little effort on our part, it’s easy to make it work with and for us.

How: Start small and simple, learn what works for your library; steal ideas from other libraries, ask them what did and didn’t work. Have community members who want to volunteer their time? Ask them what they love to do and see if they’ll teach a class. If your library can’t afford something you’d like to do or use in a program try social media, ask for donations or help on your library’s Facebook page; hit up your friends whose kids have outgrown art supplies or games or Legos; ask local grocery or craft stores to make donations toward your programs.

What kinds of Passive Programs can I offer?:

·         Movie Showings

·         Family Game Night

·         Craft Bonanza: put out any leftovers crafts (great after summer reading) and any other odds and ends and let the kids get creative

·         Patron led book groups

·         Knit & Crochet Club

·         Quilting Club

·         Reading with Rover program

·         Lego-Palooza

·         Euchre tournaments

·         Minute-to-Win-it Challenges

·         Scavenger Hunts through your community

·         Scavenger Hunts at your library

·         Gnome Home: hide a gnome or other object in your library, leave clues for its whereabouts on your Facebook page

·         Toddler Playdate: set out coloring sheets, simple puzzles, Playdough, other age appropriate toys and let the kids and parents make new friends

·         Zumba or Yoga classes: get local certified teacher to donate their time and host it at the Library

·         Butcher paper Q & A wall: hang it up, post a question, and see what patrons have to say

·         Patron Book Reviews: hang the reviews around the library; teens also love the

·         Playlist your book: challenge your patrons to come up with a playlist of songs that would go great with the book they just read and loved. Post around the library

·         Put crossword puzzles or SUDOKO around the adult department

·         Leave coloring sheets and crayons in the kids department

·         Host local speakers of interest to your community

The two most important things I’ve learned since starting this job are 1. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help from your community, your patrons, and local businesses. If you’re fortunate enough to be near a university be in touch with them, many sororities and frats have to do local volunteer hours—we’ve had sorority run storytimes, and frats show up to assist us in programs. Remember, a good library is a good investment for your community! 2. Don’ be ashamed to barter. I donated our recently digitized reels of microfilm to our local genealogical society and asked in return that they come and do a lecture during summer reading. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY!

So, what kinds of passive programs have folks done and rocked?

For more information and ideas, try checking out these articles:



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Getting Your House in Order

By: Chauncey Montgomery, Director
Sunbury Community Library


About a month after taking the position as director of the library, I remember one day making a series of calls to contractors to get some needed work done on the facility.  After talking to the second or third contractor, I thought “they never taught us anything about facility management in library school.”  I could tell you about information-seeking behavior, organizational theory, collection development, and even how to set up a basic computer network, but I couldn’t tell you much of anything about boilers, post indicator valves, carpet tiles, nor asphalt seal coating.  Perhaps at larger library systems, a specialized individual with a vast knowledge-base and years of experience fills the position of facility manager, but in small public libraries facility management often falls to directors or assistant directors that have little to no experience with managing a building.


For years, perhaps because of my lack of knowledge, our library was quite reactive when it came to facility management. Our approach was, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” This approach works; however, the result can be less than desirable.  Some building issues may not be causing immediate, pressing problems, but over time can result in an uninviting and perhaps hazardous environment. We experienced this with our carpet. Our carpet started to show signs of wear, but we ignored it (swept it under the rug, if you will) thinking the cost of carpeting would be too much.  One day we noticed that the worn and stretched carpet was creating a potential tripping hazard and we realized that the cost of carpeting would be less than dealing with a lawsuit.  Laying new carpet not only made the facility safer, it also made it much more attractive and welcoming.  


As time has passed and as we have completed more facility projects, we began to experience a couple things. First, every time a project is completed, the results improve the space.  For example, we had some awkward cabinets removed and replaced with some nice shelves and slat wall displays.  The result created a much more inviting and functional space.  Patrons praised us for weeks on the improvement.  People like to inhabit clean, fresh spaces.  


The second benefit we experienced was avoiding the stress of reacting to problems by being proactive in tackling facility issues.  If you improve a space before it becomes a major issue, you have time to research different solutions, talk to multiple vendors, and even communicate with the public. Often times when reacting to an immediate problem, the solution is to replace what was originally there instead of using the opportunity to improve the space. Being proactive about facility issues gives you the time to consider all options.


As a result of our experiences, we have become more proactive about facility issues. We have also been more confident approaching projects that could be viewed as superfluous by concerned taxpayers.  The truth is, the library is a reflection of the community, and we owe it to our communities to provide facilities that look nice and inviting, while facilitating discovery and life-long learning.  Every community should be bragging about the local public library building, whether it is five years old or fifty years old. Being mindful of the facility does not mean that you are not being prudent with public funds, and I would argue that not keeping the building in top shape is being irresponsible.


If you do take a relaxed, reactive approach to facility management, I would recommend that you begin to be more thoughtful and proactive in maintaining the building.  If you are like me and not trained to manage a facility, here are some quick tips to help when approaching facility maintenance:

  • Do a walk through with a critical eye. Look for damaged carpet, etc.

  • If you know a trustworthy contractor, invite them to do a walk-through with you.

  • Ask staff if they see any issues.

  • Ask the board what they would like to see done to the building.

  • Ask the community for their input on building improvements.

  • Make a list of known projects you want to tackle.  

  • Create a capital project fund for the items on your wishlist and complete them as money is available.

  • Always maintain a budget to address emergencies.

  • Visit other libraries to see what you like or dislike about their facilities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Giving shouldn’t be seasonal

Erin Barlow, Director
Gnadenhutten Public LibraryImage

Every holiday season we are overwhelmed with charitable opportunities.  We can donate food items at the bank, give our change at the grocery or donate toys at the local firehouse.  These are all great ideas, and I love it when libraries get involved, but always wonder why we don’t make more of an effort the rest of the year.  Certainly people are hungry in the spring and need clothing for the summer right?

This year one of my New Year’s Resolutions for the library is to make a conscious effort to collect items for the homeless and needy throughout the year. Because I am a nerd, I have already marked reminders in my planner to do something quarterly.  I don’t have the events planned out yet, but know that locally we have a homeless shelter and several food banks that could use our support.  We could even help the local animal shelters with pet supplies.

Think about it, if we strive to protect people from the elements in winter, wouldn’t they benefit from hats and sunscreen in the summer? As librarians we see the people who come in for free internet and DVD’s.  We know who comes in to cool off or warm up. We know the patrons who ride their bikes several miles to get to us.  If we see the need we should help if we can.


So often we are doing the asking; for donations or grants for materials, programming and furniture that I believe people would appreciate seeing us give back as well.  It would benefit so many people and could even be a good PR opportunity for the library.  People like to support people helping others, and not just at Christmas.  This year hopefully the community will see the library not only with its hand out, but also giving others a hand up.  We are a small library, but hopefully we can make a big impact in 2014.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Envisioning the Library of 2012

Chris Owens, Director
Blanchester Public Library

When talking to our fiscal officer recently about one of the myriad of OPERS changes, a staff member asked if she thought the library was even going to be around in 10 years due to all the changes in technology. When told about the conversation later, my sage response was, “I sure hope so.”

Earning a degree in journalism and a job at a newspaper out of college, I can attest to not being the best predictor of the future when it comes to careers. (Although you could say I got out of the profession just in time in the mid-1990s to pursue my MLIS.) And I will always argue that as a society we need professionals to gather and disseminate the news in whatever format we decide upon. I think we can make a similar, and even stronger, argument in favor of libraries. I just hope they are both winnable arguments. 

 I always seem to have a stack of books at my bedside much larger than the amount of time I have to tackle them, but one recent book all of us in the library profession really need to read is Library 2020 by Joe Janes. Janes is a professor at the University of Washington’s Information School and writes intriguing columns for American Libraries. For the book, he posed the question: The library of 2020 will be …? to a number of different people and collected their writings. (Here is an interview with Janes about the book and the future.)

Janes is convinced libraries will be here in 2020, although he is not certain what they will look like. The multitude of issues with digital media that need to be worked out will likely result in a multitude of changes in the library. While we definitely need to be prepared and changing for the future, we also need to serve our patrons today. And I am pleasantly surprised day after day at my small library by the number of people who continue to use the internet computers, continue to check out DVDs and continue to take advantage of the variety of “traditional” services the library offers. Hopefully, all of our patrons find it hard to imagine life without the library. Is the library even going to be around in 10 years? For our community’s sake, I sure hope so.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A fresh face on a tight budget

Erin Barlow, Director
Gnadenhutten Public Library

We are a small library with a small staff and even smaller budget.  However, we like new things too!  Who doesn’t want to freshen up the library and give patrons something new to notice? Maybe even create a little buzz in the community.

Over the years we have been able to “help” other libraries recycle some items they no longer need.   We have been fortunate enough to locate paperback spinners, a book truck and most recently a circulation desk.   I believe this type of cooperation and sharing between libraries is what will keep the small library alive in tough times.  As you know, small libraries have small library problems.  Who better understands that new paperback spinners are out of the budget than another small library?

Recently our book drop needed a makeover.  It is an old post office mail box that had gotten rusty and faded with age.  We priced getting a new one, but when that turned out to be fiscally impossible we decided to use the talents we had at our disposal.  A Board Member power washed and sanded it town for us and our youth librarian (and artist) turned our boring book drop into a colorful turtle.


The little things make a difference.  Patrons notice them, even if they don’t say anything.  We are now having a contest to name the turtle which is bringing additional people into the library.  On top of that when a local newspaper mentioned the book drop and our budget wouldn’t cover purchasing a new one we received a couple of donations to help with expenses.

I suppose my point is that just because we are small doesn’t mean we have to remain stagnant.  There are ways to freshen up the library that require little or no money. Plus you might find out a hidden talent someone on your staff or in your community would like to share.  This afternoon I found out that one of our library assistants took some courses on floral design.  I haven’t decided what to do with that yet, but you bet around Christmas and in the spring I’ll be brainstorming for some ways to get more color in here.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How Fragile is the Small Library

By: Chauncey Montgomery
Community Library-Sunbury Image

I just finished reading Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan). Taleb, a former derivatives trader, takes a look at the world and entertains the idea of antifragility. Things that are antifragile, Taleb explains, “benefit from shocks” and “they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors.” He explores the idea of becoming stronger when unpredictable, major events or “black swans” occur throughout life. With a background in finance, Taleb focuses on the economy and business, but he also expands his philosophical discussion into areas of technology, health, education, and other aspects of humanity.

This got me thinking about small libraries and how resilient we are. Are libraries antifragile? We could ask this question from a number of perspectives. Economically, are we antifragile? When the state cuts the public library fund do we get stronger. Consider technology. As technology impacts the way ideas are communicated, how are libraries impacted and what is our response?

Unfortunately, when libraries are faced with some dramatic change to their environment, often times there is mass panic, whining phone calls to legislators, and periods of self doubting,viz. are libraries still relevant? Conversely, I have seen responses to change where anything old is dismissed and everything new and shiny is embraced: “take a look at the library’s new facebook site, tablets, librarians on jet packs, etc.” So far we have weathered every change thrown our way; however, these responses make me wonder if we are much more fragile than we realize, and if so, what can libraries do to become antifragile?

First, I think being a small library works to our favor. The smaller an institution, the more agile it is. A small library can make policy or service changes much faster than larger libraries where policies and services need to be logistically implemented throughout multiple branches and to diverse communities. Many small libraries overlook this key feature and tend to wait for larger systems to react and then follow suit, when we could be setting the trends and quickly responding to evolving environments at a much faster pace than our larger siblings. In other words, the small library could be the sandbox for new ideas. A small sandbox is much easier to manage than an ocean shore.

Second, and close to embracing smallness, we need to remain independent. I know many have argued in favor of consolidation, especially during the last recession. Proponents of consolidation argue that a having a small local library (or school district, etc.) in each community is redundant, and by consolidating small libraries into one you’ll have a more efficient and cost effective library system. What is not discussed is how a failure impacts a system of consolidated libraries. The benefits of consolidation can easily be realized by partnerships and consortiums, where libraries work together to get group discounts and share best practices, yet remain independent entities. As libraries remain autonomous, they can each react to changes how they see fit for them and their communities. A bad decision that leads to failure in one library has no impact on the other libraries, other than to demonstrate what practices should be avoided. Contrariwise, a success can be emulated by the other small libraries.

Finally, a way for small libraries to be antifragile is to keep our approach to services simple. We need to make sure we’re focusing on what we do best and avoid being everything to everyone. Defining what we do best is largely dependent on the communities we serve. While I support the implementation of strategic plans, Taleb argues in his book that plans make you blind to optionality. Plan or no plan, you need to continually talk to users to ensure that services align with needs.

At the core of our services needs to be what has made libraries thrive throughout history: commitment to collecting and organizing information for the betterment of individual intellect. I personally think that if libraries continue to focus on improving the intellectual lives of our users, we will not only survive, but grow stronger as we face changes, big and small, in the information landscape.

I do think small libraries are much more antifragile than we may think. Consider the economic hardships we faced over the past several years. After losing a chunk of our state funding, many of us continue to thrive without seeking additional local funding, which I believe is demonstrative of how robust a small library truly is. Those of us that did seek local funding now have redundant revenue streams making us much less susceptible to the whims of legislators. Either way, we have shown that we can thrive despite adverse changes.

There is much more we could say in response when considering the fragility of small libraries, but hopefully we can begin reflecting and discussing the things that will make us antifragile to changes in our environment. I recommend reading Antifragile in its entirety. Whether or not you agree with Taleb, it is an interesting perspective on life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized