Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Scheduling Vacation

This is how I envision vacation... Photo by Janne Hellsten
I posted earlier this year about taking vacation and here I am again. A couple of years ago, my library switched our vacation "schedule". Instead of taking your vacation time by your work anniversary date, we now have everyone on a January-December schedule. Employees here are awarded their vacation time January 1 and it must be used by December 31. A limited amount can be carried over each year, but I really try to encourage my staff to take their vacation time throughout the year.

One practice that has helped us with this is penciling in potential vacation time for the year at the beginning of the year. I know that in January not everyone is going to know every vacation date that they want for the whole year, so we are flexible about changing things around as we go. But having my staff look at the calendar and pencil in when they might want to take their time helps us in a couple of ways:
  • It helps me plan programming and school visits around folks' vacation time. I always want to give people the time they want off when they want to take it. We earn our vacation time and it's part of our salary. Planning ahead helps me give people the time they want off without driving everyone crazy because we scheduled a ton of programs when we're short staffed. 
  • It allows me to see where I have two or three people wanting the same time off (happens most often around the holidays) so I can figure out our staffing levels. If I have to tell someone they can't have the exact days they want, it gives us plenty of time to figure out who will get what and what is a fair compromise. 
  • It helps my staff be aware of the vacation time they have and it helps remind them to take it. My library is generous with staff vacation time, especially for staff that have been here awhile. If we go ahead and pencil in weeks for the year, even if they are kind of random weeks, it helps everyone remember that they can use their time even if they're not expecting to go out of town.
I prefer to make my staff schedule pretty far in advance. At the beginning of the month, I start working on the schedule for the next month, so we know our schedule up to 8 weeks in advance. Of course, as we get around to each month, situations may have changed. Staff may or may not want to take the time they penciled in 7 months ago, but I can check with them and make any changes. A couple of days before I start working on the schedule, I send everyone an email asking them to submit any time off requests that they haven't already put in. That has really helped cut down on the amount of times I need to make changes or redo part of the schedule once it's published.

I try with all my might to get staff to schedule their vacation (or at least pencil it in) BEFORE we plan major programs, which requires sending out some reminders. For instance, I just put out a call for winter/spring vacations since I'm about to schedule booktalks for the spring semester. Summer vacation requests must be in by March 1, etc.

We can almost always keep everything covered, but I make sure to maintain a good relationship with our circulation staff and our reference staff just in case we get in a jam and need someone to babysit our desk. Other departments are willing to help us out because they know we are willing to jump on the circ desk if there's a long line or send someone up to the reference desk to cover during a meeting.

How do you or your workplace handle scheduling staff vacations? Any tips or tricks for me?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Readcation Update

Here's what I've been reading this week on my Readcation. I'm in the middle of Radioactive!: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling, which is my favorite of the books I have tackled this week. The Christopher Pike book on top is for an upcoming episode of The Worst Bestsellers, on which I will be appearing next month!

And I also had a record-breaking week of walking. I walked 23 miles this week (!!), while listening to the excellent audiobook Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. I have been on a big chef memoir audiobook kick lately and I'm enjoying this one a lot.

What have YOU been reading?!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Readcation

My staff and I pencil in vacation dates for the year when our vacation is awarded in January. I wrote up a whole big boring post about it, which will be coming sometime soon. But this is on my mind because 10 months ago, I penciled in a vacation week for myself this upcoming week. I was thinking we might go to Harry Potter World or somewhere else. Instead, we bought a house and so I am taking a Readcation this week (in my new house! So exciting!).

Last week was PERFECT timing for this awesome Book Riot post by Kelly Jensen on taking a readcation. I will definitely be following her advice, especially about UNPLUGGING, which is very hard for me (and a huge distraction).

I will pop back in at the end of the week and let you know what progress I made on these books (and others - my TBR "pile" is an entire bookshelf and it's absolutely out of control):

What are YOU reading this week??

Monday, October 12, 2015

Diverse Chapter Books

Diversity has been on my mind lately, and that's not going to stop. My staff and I have made it part of our departmental goals to include diverse material in our programming, including our many booktalks to school groups. It has been a challenge finding diverse chapter books to include for our younger patrons, but my staff and I have made a special effort to seek them out. Recently, a writer on Book Riot asked "What do I read to my 3-year-old that isn't just straight white people?" It's a legitimate question and one that I definitely was asking last year as I was starting third grade booktalks for the first time. Over the past year, my staff and I have come up with a list of diverse early chapter books, which I would like to share with you today!

I know there are series and titles that I'm missing and I would LOVE for you to add your suggestions in the comments!!

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (and sequels). Alvin Ho is sure that he has what it takes to be a hero - he comes from a long line of Chinese farmer-warriors, after all - but first he'll have to conquer his fear of, well, everything.

Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet by Graham Salisbury (and sequels). Calvin doesn't go looking for trouble, but somehow trouble always finds him, including a run-in with the school bully on the very first day of fourth grade.

Dog Days by Karen English (The Carver Chronicles series). When Gavin accidentally breaks his sister's snow-globe, he has to earn the money to pay her back by walking dogs.

EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner (and sequels). When EllRay is getting picked on at school, every way he tries to deal with it gets him in trouble! Can he be good for one whole week to earn a trip to Disneyland?

Emma is on the Air: Big News by Ida Siegal (Emma is On the Air series). When Emma sees a glamorous news reporter on TV, she knows that's what she wants to do. But first, she'll need some news. When a kid finds a worm in his hamburger from the school cafeteria, Emma is right there to report it.

Freddie Ramos Takes Off  by Jacqueline Jules (Zapato Power series). Freddie finds a pair of new shoes delivered to his apartment and when he puts them on he can run super fast. Will his new power help him be a hero like his dad?

Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin. Katie has adventures with her friends in the many books in this series.

Keena Ford and the Second Grade Mixup by Melissa Thomson (and sequels). Keena Ford always seems to be finding trouble, even though she's never looking for it. When a birthday mixup happens in her new second grade class, can Keena make things right?

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin (and sequels). Ling and Ting are twins and they share a lot of things in common, but they are NOT exactly the same!

Little Rhino: My New Team by Ryan Howard and Krystle Howard (Little Rhino series). Little Rhino is so excited to join his first baseball team, but will a team bully ruin it for him?

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay (and sequels). Everyone can tell you that Lulu LOVES animals, but her teacher does not. When Lulu rescues an abandoned duck egg from the park, she's worried that it might choose to hatch in the middle of class, getting Lulu into BIG TROUBLE.

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes (and sequels). Dyamonde Daniel is the new kid at school and she really wants to make a best friend. But the only other kid who doesn't already have a best friend happens to be the grumpiest person Dyamonde has ever met.

Sofia Martinez: Picture Perfect by Jacqueline Jules (Sofia Martinez series). Sofia is sick of blending in with her two older sisters. What can she do to make herself stand out? This very beginning chapter book series includes some Spanish words, which are defined in the back of the book.

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng (and sequels). Anna Wang is having a hard year. Her friends are suddenly friends with a kind of mean kid in their class and most of the time Anna would rather read her new library book than hang out with them.

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin (and sequels). The Year of the Dog is a good year for finding yourself, and that is exactly what Pacy Lin sets out to do. But where to start?

This list is a start, but I would love to hear what other diverse chapter books you would suggest. Please leave titles and series in the comments!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Leaf Rubbings on the @alscblog

Friends, today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about leaf rubbings. It may seem like a very basic, boring activity, but our Afterschool kids go crazy for it every year! Please click through and check it out.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reading Wildly: Scary Books

It's October, so it's time for another round of scary books for this month's Reading Wildly meeting. We explored scary books a couple of years ago, and it's such a perennial favorite that we brought it back this year. We were a little pressed for time at this meeting because we had to combine our department meeting and our RW meeting (happens sometimes, especially with Fall Break happening), so we didn't have a really in-depth discussion about our article. It was Are Goosebumps Books Real Literature? By Leslie Anne Perry & Rebecca P. Butler (Language Arts, Oct. 1997) and we did have a few takeaways:

  • Kids know what to expect when they pick up a Goosebumps book: an easy to read, slightly scary and exciting story. 
  • Scary stories, including the Goosebumps series transcend gender divides. As much as I really hate the idea of "girl books" and "boy books" (and I really do hate it), scary stories, for kids who like scary stories, are easy to hand to both boys and girls without objections from kids or parents. 
  • If we had had time, I would have liked to compile a list of scary story series that would be good for everyone to know, but alas we didn't have time for this. 
So, here are the books we read: 

For next month, we are reading horse books (Children's) and animal books (Teen). It was determined that teens didn't have an overwhelming interest in horse books, but my teen librarians did feel like animal books were something more teens were interested in. We'll also start to brainstorm genres that we'd like to explore next year and I'm excited to now have our teen librarians' input in this process! 

Horse books are definitely NOT my wheelhouse, so do you have any suggestions for me?!