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Up or Out: Smarter Ways to Get Library Employees Back on Track

Up or Out: Smarter Ways to Get Library Employees Back on Track


$25 per person for 4+licenses

Perhaps the most difficult task for a library supervisor or manager is dealing with employee behavioral problems in a respectful, legal, and timely fashion. Maybe it’s a new employee still in the probationary period that is not living up to their great resume and interview. Maybe the person is a good employee who has slipped into sloppy habits, such as arriving late and gossiping at service desks.

Maybe the problem behaviors are difficult to pin down, such as a tone of voice or nonverbal behaviors. Or maybe a longtime employee’s bad behaviors were disregarded by previous supervisors and can no longer be ignored.


The good news is that there are time-tested systems for anticipating problems, keeping employees on track, and handling difficult conversations. Documentation, precise communication, and setting agreements with deadlines and consequences are key to successful outcomes, including, if necessary, a parting of ways.


Learn how to reduce the drama for both employees and supervisors and address specific issues before they become serious.



•Hire for emotional maturity and the right skill sets.

•Ensure workplace and individual job expectations are communicated and understood.

•Make feedback concrete and specific.

•Plan and practice for employee meetings to ensure feedback is unambiguous, with deadlines and consequences.

Jamie LaRue is the director of the Garfield County Public Library District in Western Colorado. The author of  two books: On Censorship: A Public Librarian Examines Cancel Culture in the US and The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges, Jamie has been a Public Library Director for many years, as well as a weekly newspaper columnist and cable TV host. From January 2016 to November 2018, he was director of ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Jamie has written, spoken and consulted extensively on intellectual freedom issues, leadership and organizational development, community engagement and the future of libraries.

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