Thanks to ongoing City budget woes, we haven't hired any new librarians for about two years, so we haven't been able to fill holes caused even by normal attrition. And then about a year ago, an Early Retirement Incentive Program was approved, which encouraged over 100 retirements, mostly from the supervisory and administrative levels, by May 2010. In June, about 160 LAPL employees were laid off, including 20 librarians.
As a result of this severe pruning of our workforce, we eliminated two of our open nights and all Sunday hours at all agencies last April, and in July we eliminated Mondays as well, leaving us open only 5 days a week.
Here's where it gets interesting. Back before all of this, the professional staff at a typical branch consisted of one branch manager, one adult librarian, one young adult librarian, one children's librarian, and one more half-time librarian (who might be adult, YA, or children's, depending on the branch).
Thanks to our leaner workforce and shortened hours, that professional staff has been cut back - now the typical branch must have just one branch manager, one young adult librarian, and one children's librarian. A few larger or busier branches might have a bit more staff, including perhaps an adult librarian, but in general the adult librarian positions have been eliminated, as well as almost all the half-time positions.
Ah, but there are still plenty of librarians inhabiting those eliminated adult and half-time positions!
Bluntly put, those adult and half-time librarians must make a change.
- If there is a children's or YA vacancy in their own branch, they may choose to take that position.
- If there isn't a vacant children's or YA position but the adult librarian has seniority over the children's or YA librarian in that position, the adult librarian may "bump" that librarian. The bumped children's or YA librarian must then interview for a vacant position in another branch.
- If adult librarians don't wish to remain in their previous branch, they may interview for a vacant position.
- Same thing goes for half-time librarians - except that since they aren't allowed to become full-time right now due to the hiring freeze, they must inhabit half of a position, leaving the other half vacant and available for another half-time librarian.
Interviewing will take place through the end of this month, selections will be announced in the beginning of December, and all librarians will start in their new locations and/or positions on January 3.
Now - if you were a life-long adult librarian who became an adult librarian precisely because you did NOT want to be a children's or YA librarian, would you be happy right now? Probably not. I'm figuring that there are at least a few worried, scared, annoyed, and downright angry and resentful adult librarians out there in LAPL-land, dreading January 3 with all their souls.
On the other hand, there well may be a few adult librarians who are thrilled (or at least cautiously optimistic) about the prospect of joining the ranks of dedicated children's and YA librarians. After all, it is undeniable that we have the most fun (even if we do work the hardest as well). And if I do say it myself, our Youth Services coordinating office pretty much beats the pants off all the other departments.
Still, I have to acknowledge that there will be a bit of unwillingness, some negative attitudes, and quite a bit of ignorance about early literacy, teen advisory groups, manga, storytime, and on and on. I'm rather worried that some of these soon-to-be children's and YA librarians don't even seem to like or understand kids and teens.
My challenge is to provide these librarians with the training, the resources, and the motivation to do their new jobs well. The skills and knowledge are easy to impart, but the enthusiasm and missionary zeal that we dyed-in-the-wool children's and YA librarians feel about our jobs will be a harder sell. I don't want a bunch of half-hearted librarians serving this City's children, teens, families, teachers, and caregivers. Good service matters, now more than ever.
I plan to draft all our excellent, experienced children's and YA librarians (at which ever branch they end up after the Great Migration) to help me train, mentor, and encourage their new youth services colleagues. It's going to be an exciting and energizing challenge.
Bring it on!