Best Practices in Youth Services

Today we are talking about best practices.  People use that word a lot, and I thought rather than talk about a specific best practice, I would focus on what a best practice is.

According to, “A best practice is an idea that asserts that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc.  Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount to effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people.”

In terms of Youth Services, there are many best practices in areas such as:

  • Story times
  • Summer Reading
  • Collection Development
  • Readers Advisory
  • And many, many more

But how do you determine what a best practice is?  To me, it means that there is something that either everyone already does (such as offering programs to kids) or that, when people hear about it, they say, “Why aren’t we doing it that way?”  A best practice sinks into the culture so that you don’t even realize that most libraries are all doing it, such is putting books on display.

Taking an example from the world of business.  Henry Ford first built an assembly line to produce cars.  This was a revolutionary concept at the time.  Yet, people now could not imagine putting things together without an assembly line.  It is so much more effective in terms of staff, resources, and work flow.  To me, best practices are something we all do (such as story times), and they determine what the best, most cost-effective, and patron friendly way of doing this program or service.

Take a moment to think about what you do all day.  What would you define as a best practice?  Then check back here for some ideas on best practices for Youth Services staff.

Kate Hall
Library Director
New Lenox Public Library District

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