Gracious Greetings is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.

Presenters: Jacqueline Highfill, Chikae Shavers, Jose Lira Pedroza, Vivian Kwan, Gretchen McClusky, Wing Tang, Shin Park, & Luyi Yang

Track: Public Library

Abstract: Gracious Greetings is a virtual series that enriched public library staff with the ability to warmly welcome and assist patrons in our buildings. These were developed by the Gracious Greetings Facilitators team who shared their expertise in their native tongue with their fellow staff members. Through this program the facilitators learned new technical skills on how to utilize Microsoft Teams to host a meeting. The facilitators also gained skills in leadership, feedback and facilitation. The facilitators developed their own program through video meetings and Power Point presentations independently while taking feedback from their participants and their fellow facilitators. Gracious Greetings included the following languages:

  • American Sign Language -ASL (hosted by Gretchen McCluskey)
  • Cantonese – a dialect of Chinese (hosted by Wing Tang)
  • English – for ESL Staff (hosted by Vivian Kwan)
  • Japanese (hosted by Chikae Shavers)
  • Korean (hosted by Shin Park)
  • Mandarin – a dialect of Chinese (hosted by Cira Yang)
  • Spanish (hosted by Jose Lira Pedroza)

Suddenly finding ourselves working from home, we discovered that COVID-19 presented us with a unique opportunity. Jacqueline Highfill suggested that those who felt comfortable sharing their knowledge amongst their staff members could host language learning sessions. 6 staff members volunteered their work time and energy to help staff practice their language learning skills. Each facilitator oversaw a discussion and presented basic vocabulary focused on using the library. These sessions provided a safe space where staff could practice welcoming and assisting patrons with day-to-day transactions.

This time period will leave an everlasting impact on how staff viewed one another as teachers, coworkers and team members too.

Poster:
Suddenly finding themselves working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff members of the Northcentral Region of the King County Library System (KCLS) sought to create a conducive learning opportunity as they worked with Microsoft Teams. Knowing that our diverse staff provided an invaluable resource of being multilingual and realizing that there were staff interested in language learning sessions. Jacqueline Highfill suggested that those who felt comfortable sharing their knowledge amongst their staff members could host language learning sessions. 6 staff members volunteered their work time and energy into making a temporary program to assist staff practice their language learning skills. Each facilitator oversaw a discussion and present different words to help greet and welcome patrons into their libraries. These sessions also provided a safe space where staff could practice welcoming and assisting patrons with day-to-day transactions. Some phrases included, “Welcome!,” “How may I help you?” , “Where are the (items)?” and “Goodbye!” Some facilitators even shared how to utilize the Language Line telephone translation service, allowing staff members to easily transition to get immediate translation help.

Each session lasted for an hour. Usually there would be a demonstration on how to speak these phrases and the participants would be given time to practice and mirror the facilitator. The sessions went on for 7 weeks from April 21 to May 27. Some facilitators went above and beyond and hosted additional “office hours” to answer grammatical questions or “conversational sessions” that went beyond the basic of greeting and helping patrons in the library.

The English sessions operated differently in that they were for staff in which English wasn’t their first language. Vivian shared about the different English language learning resources available to staff on KCLS’ and on other reputable sites. Participants would learn how to “check in” with one another, where to access movies, news, podcasts as well as how to build confidence while speaking in English.

After every week, the facilitators would meet once a week for an hour to discuss how the sessions went. This helped establish accountability and trust among the team when they went to developing their sessions. Most of the facilitators attended each other’s sessions to learn and improve their own classes. Staff members who participated (in a non-facilitator role) felt more kinship and that they had been able to exercise a new skill among their peers. The sessions also allowed all staff members to learn more cultural insights into their languages, fostering empathy.

The Gracious Greetings sessions were innovative as they were developed by staff with no formal training on how to lead a language class using new software that allowed staff members to connect and learn with one another. This time period will leave an everlasting impact on how staff viewed one another as teachers, coworkers and team members too.

About the Presenters:
The Gracious Greetings Facilitators team consists of seven public library employees, including Jacqueline Highfill (Operations Manager), Vivian Kwan (Library Technical Assistant), Jose Lira Pedroza (Library Technical Assistant) ,Gretchen McCluskey (Library Technical Assistant), Shin Park (Library Technical Assistant), Chikae Shavers (Library Technical Assistant), Wing Tang (Library Technical Assistant) and Luyi (Cira) Yang (Library Page).

 

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Kellian donna Clink
2 months ago

Awesome idea! I know I learned just a LITTLE bit of Welsh before I went there and they really appreciated just a little Hello, Good Day, Thank you said to them in their own language!

Jacqueline Highfill
Reply to  Kellian donna Clink
2 months ago

Thank you for your comment. Yes, your experience helps illustrate what we are hoping to re-create and use as a starting point for making our patrons know they are welcome in our libraries.

Rick
2 months ago

Wow- What a great use of in-house expertise. I can see how it might create better communication and understanding between library staff as well as patrons.

Jane LS
2 months ago

What a great way to engage staff while supporting improved library customer service and community EDI support! I look forward to sharing this with my staff at Sno-Isle.

Christie Ericson
2 months ago

What a wonderful idea! I love this!