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Solo Librarian Interest Group

Meeting Notes

March 16, 2021 - Getting it all done when you're the only one!

8 attendees.

Virtual vs. in-person meetings

  • Not having to travel for meetings has saved time.

  • Virtual meetings work well

  • Prefer more intense training to be in-person 

    • Solo librarians are also helping patrons when they participate in online events, and they are often interrupted. 

    • Interaction with instructor and classmates difficult via Zoom. 

    • For hands-on demonstrations and discussion-based classes, greatly prefer in-person. For straight lectures and slides, virtual is ok. 

  • People more tolerant of participants briefly leaving virtual meetings to take care of other tasks vs in-person, which helps solo librarians. 

  • Having recordings of events is helpful because you can go back and replay parts you didn’t completely understand or remember. But not all events should be recorded. With some topics or formats, want to give people the opportunity to speak more freely. 

Workload during pandemic

  • Hard to juggle hours when libraries had COVID cases and staff had to quarantine because there are so few staff members. Don’t want to give out personal information, but usually fairly obvious who has the case because of the tiny staff.

  • Volunteers - some have stopped during COVID, and some have found projects to do remotely. 

  • Virtual programming is difficult. You cannot be at the desk and do programming at the same time, so solo librarians are doing their programming during their days off. This is not sustainable. Also, will not be able to do as much programming, either remote or in-person, once libraries are more open, so need to temper people’s expectations. 

  • Some employees voluntarily work lots of extra hours without pay. Libraries need to be very careful about monitoring this. If the employee is hourly, this could run afoul of labor laws. Also an issue of equity. Some people can more easily work extra unpaid hours than others due to life situations. People who provide unpaid work can set unreasonable expectations for other and future employees. 

  • Small towns often expect their public librarians to do more than in other places. Librarians need to guard their time and think about any legal issues involved with doing extra tasks that are not in their job description, such as delivering books to patrons.  

Time Management

  • Pomodoro Method - Concentrate on a task for 25 minutes. Set a timer, and don’t answer the phone, email, etc during that time. This helps to avoid the ping-pong effect of going from one task to another without focusing on more difficult tasks. Can be very difficult for solo librarians to implement, though, because there may be no one else to help the person at the desk. 

  • Eat the Frog method - Do your most onerous or dreaded task first thing in the day. This will get it out of the way and give you momentum to do the more interesting tasks. 

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