Closing the Knowledge Gap: March Poll Results

Erin M. Schadt /

Last month we asked about those job responsibilities that maybe weren't covered in your training to become library staff. Answers varied, but the most common area you identified was finances—whether that's how to create a budget, bookkeeping, or vendor relations and contracts.

Close on the heels of finance were several areas of management, from how to handle basic human resources issues to leading a staff. "Supervising others is really hard, especially when you're thrown in," commented one reader.

And many people responded that one of their biggest challenges was the ever perplexing issue of difficult personalities, whether a problem patron or sorting out workplace conflict. One reader puts it well: "What motivates one person or group may not the next and that some people just plain enjoy being difficult."

It's no coincidence that one of the most popular WebJunction archived webinars is Dealing with Difficult Patrons!

One reader found knowing which state and government offices to send people for services was challenging. That person used their past experience to help navigate: "From working a variety of jobs before I became a librarian:  secretary (banking and legal), collection caller for utilities, book seller, teacher, boy scout leader, American Red Cross Volunteer … all these jobs make me a better librarian because you have to learn to listen to a person's perspective before you can really help them find the information they need."

Additionally, readers commented that finding new programming ideas for kids through adults was a constant challenge.

How are people finding the resources they need to meet these gaps in their knowledge? On the job training, baptism by fire, mentors and guidance, and self-directed learning such as webinars and courses were all cited.

WebJunction has many free resources in these areas and are adding more all the time! Here are some suggested starting points for readers:


Course: Directors ASK!

Course: Public Library Directors 101

Webinar Archive: Supervisor Success: Development Programs that Work

Webinar Archive: Accidental Leadership with George Needham

Webinar Archive: From Librarian to Proficient Manager: Uncovering the Transitional Journey

Customer Service

Webinar Archive: Dealing with Difficult Patrons

Course: Extreme Customer Service, Every Time

Course: Dealing with Angry Patrons

Webinar Archive: Creating a Culture of Yes at Your Library and in Your Community

Webinar: Community Engagement: Serving Diverse Communities Where They Are


Programming topic page

Children topic page

Young Adults & Teens topic page