Supervision

In addition to the house-buying, a couple other things are keeping me from blogging as much as I might like. One of them is a semester-long class on supervision I’m taking through my university human resources department.

Many librarians “fall” into supervisory roles and do not have formal training. (See, for example, Rachel Singer Gordon’s The Accidental Library Manager.) I only took the management courses in library school because they were required, but I do remember one professor telling us that almost all librarians are supervisors—if not of full-time staff, then of students or volunteers. That woke me up, because I had no intention of being a supervisor.

I’m glad I was forced to take the courses, because here I am, a department manager. Even so, I felt unprepared for my first supervisory job, and still feel like I have a lot to learn.

Staff are the majority of my budget. I’ve spent a lot of time honing my tech skills and learning my subject matter, but relatively little time on improving as a supervisor. I come away from the keynote speeches at leadership events feeling really empowered—but that feeling fades after the event. With a weekly class and homework assignments, I’m forced to apply the things I’m learning.

I’ll try to report on the things I learn that are especially relevant for librarians. My first discovery is that I have shifted from Introvert to Extrovert on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. What a long way from the kid who was so shy her teachers wondered if she could talk! I’m sure that my supervisory experience and leadership roles in professional associations played a part in this transormation.

One of the issues I hope to investigate during the course of the semester is how delegation is different in libraries than in other departments because of the separation between MLS and non-MLS staff.