Tag Archives: programming

This Week’s Challenges–and it’s only Tuesday!


I have to take a look and see if there’s a full moon coming because this week has already thrown me for a loop and it’s only Tuesday!

1. A boy last night was doing a one minute talk and needed research about how carpenters were like in New Jersey during Colonial era and could only use Internet resources. After I found out he could eventually use books and we looked at our “career” books from the Colonial section and while it had information, it didn’t have information about New Jersey and he felt very strongly that he also needed New Jersey carpenter information. This is where I failed as a librarian. I was able to give him books that talked about the middle colonies and books about carpenters, but not the two combined. Did I mention that this was for a very short piece?? When I told him “Wow, this is some very specific information you’re looking for” he very seriously replied that “I have Mrs. So-and-s0 and she is VERY particular.” No kidding. He waved hi to me today and said he was back for more research so I hope the project was going okay.

2. I had a mom with a small baby ask “For the book, I can’t remember the author, called Red Hat Green Hat.” I searched for that book, different variations, asked questions about the plot (was there other clothing involved?)–then grabbed my coworker when she came back to the desk and asked her if it sounds familiar. “Oh that’s the book by So-and-so.” WHAT? She walked to show the lady the section. I didn’t get a chance to follow up with my coworker about what that book exactly was, but you can bet I’m going to do that when I next see her.

3. I had a mom ask me if I thought there were any value to comics. As the person who orders graphic novels I take that section extremely seriously and don’t like when people look down at the collection–and the way she phrased her question indicated what her preconceptions were. Luckily, I had some info to back up my point and showed her some of my favorites. I think she walked away feeling better about the collection. Some of them she was really impressed by the artwork so that was a plus! What could have become a very uncomfortable situation ended up all right in the end–but it was a little uneasy there for a bit.

4. Today was our first Book Blitz program (which I wrote about two weeks ago). Unfortunately, no teens showed up. My coworker, our amazing Teen Librarian, and I sat through and got a chance to practice what we would have done (which was helpful). So time to assess–what went wrong? Weather could have been a factor. It was storming/raining in the afternoon. When I came down to our youth internet computers at 5:20 when it’s normally very busy and noisy there were only 5 kids. Maybe something was happening at school that day keeping kids away? Was it the time? 4-5 might interfere with after school activities. Maybe they didn’t like the theme–horror books aren’t for everyone. The lack of food could have been a factor. We offer food at our other teen programs. I had the idea of turning it to a later program with decaf coffee and deserts but maybe I’ll start small with serving hot chocolate. I know once we get them here they’ll see how awesome it is and keep coming back on their own.

Needless to say, I’m disappointed with the lack of turnout for today. We’ll keep the same schedule for the program next month and hope tweens and teens show. Sigh.

Some weeks are just like this. You feel like a mass of obstacles has been placed in front of you and you have so far to go. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the week goes better, that next month’s program is a hit, and I figure out what carpenters did in New Jersey in colonial times. But first, I think I’m going to have an adult beverage.


New Program Jitters


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.

Youth Services: Do You Have it in You?


Recently I read Elizabeth Bird’s cover story in School Library Journal entitled ‘Role Call’. The subtitle sums it up pretty well: “Want to work with kids in a public library? Here’s the scoop.” In the article she gives gives a breakdown of your options (public vs. school), LIS classes she found useful, salaries and job prospects, and the importance of networking. She touches on the kind of personality it takes to be a public librarian.

I would have loved to have seen this article before I started school several years ago. While I started this program set on being a Youth Services librarian, it’s always great hearing another person’s perspective on what you need to know and it’s a nice overview. I’ve been working as an assistant in the YS department for four years now and I’d like to elaborate more on the skills (personality and inner strength-wise) you’ll need to have in you.


Of course, this seems obvious. Patience is something we all need. Betsy used a great phrase in her article “Have a short fuse?” If you do, than YS might not be for you. You might have a child come up to you 17 times in one night asking for Barbie DVDs and though you’ve showed her exactly where they are 16 times earlier on that 17 time you need to still have a smile and be enthusiastic.

Quiet vs. Kid Quiet

The kids department will never be “library quiet.” There are always babies laughing or crying, toddlers who don’t know how to talk quietly, middle school age kids who can’t be quiet, and a wide range in between. It’s a mix of voices and excitement but it will never be like the adult floor. So don’t expect pure silence. Also, be prepared for the few adults who will complain about the volume of your floor.

Know the Classics

Not the classics like Alice in Wonderland. Every library will have the top series that every kid seems to be reading. This was one of the biggest pieces of advice I got when I started in the department. Once I knew where Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, Judy Moody, and Amelia Bedelia books were things started going smoothly.

Forget Summer

Summer is classic for vacations and relaxing, but not for Youth Services staff! This is when our customers are here. Again it seems obvious, but don’t expect to get much done through June and July. You’ll be running from one program to another if you’re not constently at the YS desk. You might forget what your desk looks like buried underneath your projects. Summer will fly by like that and the best part: it’s a lot of fun.

Plan for Summer in January

Seems early but it will save you a lot of stress come May. And since I’m a person who’s not the best at planning ahead, trust me on this one.

Be Friendly and Have a Big Smile

This goes with tip 1, but you should be super friendly and smiley when you’re on the floor. Say hello and have a nice day to everyone. Having a bad day? Fake it till you feel better. Kids do not care. But they will remember if you were grumpy. Besides, even if you’re having a bad day I bet you won’t be when you way goodbye to a toddler and they respond by blowing you a kiss. See? Things are looking up already.

Do you have anything you feel are key skills or things new or soon-to-be YS librarians should know? Please respond! And make sure you check out Betsy’s article “Role Call” by clicking here.