There is a really easy thing to do to make people feel welcome and part of the library. Invite them. It seems very simple but I often think we make simple things more complicated than they need to be. When you break something down, and get to the root of the issue – sometimes the simplest answer is often the one that makes the most sense.
So when you have those moments of, “why is no one coming to my program?” or “why do my coworkers not understand what I’m doing?” or “why can’t I do this because of (insert whatever you are struggling with here)?” It might be good to stop and make sure whatever you are doing is inviting and welcoming. Is your program at a bad time for the people you are trying to serve but fits awesome in the library schedule? Well, that’s not very inviting for the people you are trying to serve. If you get a chance ask people why they couldn’t make it and then give them a reason to come to the library – extend an invitation.
Do you sometimes struggle with advocating for kids with your coworkers? I think everyone feels this at some point and it hits like a brick. And sometimes it is really hard to work your way out from that feeling. And that’s okay. But dwelling too long in that feeling won’t help. Advocacy can be a friend here. A large part of advocacy is getting the entire library team on the same page, and that means you have to understand and appreciate. I think inviting people to see what you do and why you do it is a huge way to break down some walls. Invite staff to programs personally, let them observe. Show them the tech you are using. Did you get Sphero/Cubelets/MakeyMakey/etc.? Let them try it and if they have concerns – listen! Talk about why you do what you do, and why. Then ASK them about what they are doing – congratulate them on their success. Because the library is one team and that team deserves the recognition.
Inviting people is essential and I think it is taken it for granted. We must honor the trust the public gives us for wanting librarians and library staff to serve their community. After all, the library belongs to the people – make sure they know they are welcome and wanted.