I love that my job gives me opportunities to create programs. But if I was truly honest, sometimes I would say that I hate that my job lets me create programs. Why? It’s sometimes so hard to tell what’s going to be a success or not. And when you invest yourself and put everything you have into a program, to see it fail can be hard.
Truly, creating programs is fun. The sky is the limit (but also in that limit is budget, time, availability of staff and space, and interest). You hope that turnout is going to be amazing but sometimes it just falls short. Teens (and in this I’m including the 6th through 8th graders that I mainly work with) don’t always show up. Connecting Young Adults and Libraries talks about whether or not you cancel a program just because one teen shows up. The answer? Of course you don’t because that teen made a choice to come to that program and this is your chance to start a relationship with this teen. But it’s hard in a numbers world to justify the cost and time when few teens show up.
This is why I get nervous about programs. I go to plan but I’m seized with questions: is this a good date? Will they like it? Will they come? Toddler and young grade school programs are easier–you know the parents are going to bring them. But that’s not likely to happen with teens. For teens either they’ll come on their own or their parents will force them and they’ll be unhappy while they’re there (for example, in my “Monsters, Wings, and Other Halloween Things” program where the young teen voiced his displeasure at the program, the movie we played–everything).
My new program jitters are happening again. Our new monthly program Book Blitz is going to be starting in two weeks. This book talk program will feature a different book genre each month (October’s is Scare Your Socks Off) and allow myself and our Teen Librarian to share awesome titles they might have missed. Teens will be able to share their favorites in that genre with us. Since we get asked about book discussion programs (but in my experience they never have time to all read the book) I’m hoping that this program will fill a need with teens who are looking for great books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for teens to show up that day. And if it should fail after a couple months? I’ll dust myself off and try something new. It’s hard but you know what? It’s so absolutely worth it.