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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

SLP Musings Part 4: On Getting Help

Asking for help should be easier and more pleasant than a giant dose of castor oil!
Moving on from the things that people HATE about the Summer Library Program, and moving on to the things that people thought they might be able to do to make their SLP easier.  A very popular choice?  Asking for help, delegating more projects to other staff members, reaching out to community members and staff members to ask them to help with programs about their interests.

I have to ask people for help quite often.  In order to make our continuing education offerings robust and practical (and affordable), in order to find mentors for new librarians, and in order to help me think about and act on challenging issues, I need to ask people who are busy and working hard to do extra things.  Guess what?  It turns out that for the most part, people are really generous and happy to be asked to share about something they care about.  Sometimes they say no--and I always applaud people for knowing their limitations!  But often, they say yes.

Over the course of several years of doing this and messing up, I have learned to be clear about the expectations that are important to me, and provide as much guidance as people want about the other parts.  Sometimes people really relish having the autonomy to choose their topic or their delivery method.  Other times, people really are looking for some parameters.  As long as I'm clear on the things that are most important to me, I find that it works well to be flexible--and be as bossy as people want me to be.  One constant--I try hard to not lose track of thanking people for the extra time and effort it took to help me.

What works well for you when you are asking for help?