Posted in Career, Programming, Youth Services Librarian

Summer Reading… er, Summer Programming!

We’re halfway + a week into Summer Reading in my county (which only runs June & July because most families travel in August) and here’s a quick recap in the form of those superlatives that were added to your high school yearbook.

Most Attended Program

NC Zoo presents Animal Sound Bites – 130 attendance

The NC Zoo program is a staple in our county’s summer reading offerings. Most, if not all, of the libraries offered the program. I scheduled mine for the last Friday in June as a sort of halfway-finale. There was huge turnout (don’t worry, our auditorium fire code is 140, we could have totally gotten another 10 people in there!), including a couple of summer camp groups who walked or rode over from their locations. There was an owl and a snake and some hissing cockroaches. The kids had a blast and got to pet a snake at the end! My main concerns were the number of people vs. the volume of my presenters and the program ran a bit long, so the kids started to get antsy. It was a huge success, though, and for my first summer reading, we’ll call it lesson learned (get microphones set up next time!!).

Most Exhausting Program

Music and Movement – average 40 attendance

Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat because it’s a program I do during the school year as well, but the highest attendance in June was 53! That’s a lot of people to do toddler cardio with. Music and Movement is 30min of songs like Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Run Baby Run, etc. I affectionately refer to it as toddler cardio because that’s what it feels like to me. 53 is not my highest attendance (looking at April’s last M&M with attendance of 90), but with that many kids I tend to move from commenting on the songs (with things like, LOOKING GOOD GUYS) to shouting the instructions over the music (I SAID FREEZE!!! NO SHAKERS OR MARACAS PLEASE). Commenting is a lot easier, of course, because I’m also trying to demonstrate the movements while I’m shouting encouragement, but the kids always have such a blast with the songs. (If you want to know what songs we do, here’s a link to the playlist I used Spring 2018!)

Most Surprising Program

Young Yarners – 35 attendance

My attendance for this age group (6-11 years) is usually…. three. And those three are usually kids already in the library and I’m like “HEY COME DO THIS THING WITH ME.” So when I had thirty five people (this includes adults and littles) come to this program I was… NOT. READY. The kids had a blast and the moms in attendance were very gracious about how underprepared I was. We’re a small library in a small community, so adults with kids tend to be more forgiving of me saying “Well, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting this, but I will do my very best to help!” I had one girl end up with a gaggle of other kids showing them how to crochet and at least two kids who wanted me to help them learn to crochet, only they were left-handed. But, everyone seemed to have a good time and it might be a program I add into the school year schedule.

Well, those are the three programs I wanted to highlight. Even though I also offer teen programs, they’re so sparsely attended (of the two programs, a total of 9 attendance) they frequently end up cancelled. Teens are often doing other things during the summer, sleeping, working, etc. I didn’t go to the library as a teen, so I can’t really fault them.

Posted in Career, Everything Else, Youth Services Librarian

What Makes a Librarian?

As I’ve decided to start blogging about things that go into my job, I should probably start at what exactly my job entails.

So to start: I’m a Youth Services Librarian. This means I handle programs for ages 0-17 as well as collection development for the “kid’s” and “teen” sections of the library. Some libraries, like the Central Branch in my system, have separate Children’s and Teen’s Librarians, but in our branch libraries, one Librarian handles both.

Well, that’s all well and good, but what do librarians actually do? I can separate my job into essentially four categories:

  1. Programs
  2. Collection Development
  3. Reference
  4. Everything Else

People usually associate librarians with Reference and, especially Youth Services Librarians, Programs, but there’s a lot to Collection Development and the category I call “Everything Else,” which includes MEETINGS. I hate meetings.


As a Youth Services Librarian, there is one program that is inescapably associated with my job:

It’s not the only program I do, though. I have two toddler (ages 0-5) programs once a week, one to two school-age (ages 6-11) programs a month, and two to three teen (ages 12-17) programs a month, plus a few more that aren’t “set.” Sometimes I join with the local elementary school and offer school-age programs in conjunction with them, but for the most part, that’s my programming month. That is, until…

Summer Reading

My county’s Summer Reading takes place in June & July and involves… a lot. We hire performers, enlist volunteers, and I still do my two toddler programs once a week. It takes a lot of planning, which will get its own post some time later, I’m sure. Just know, school year planning already involves about 3 programs per week, but summer reading has about one program a day…

Collection Development

For me, my focus on collection development falls under three categories:

1. Adding
Once a month, I select books to be added to the county’s collection. In our county, the ordering areas are spread across the different librarians and we order for all the libraries. Outside of the order, we frequently get donations and I decide if we’re going to offer (to the other branches), add, or book sale them.

2. Moving
Sometimes, I’ll be in an area and think “wow, this might be better served over here, maybe it will check out more if I do that.” Then, I talk to my coworkers about it to think it through, then I talk to my boss about it, and if it makes sense through all those steps, I move the materials. I’ve moved a lot of stuff around since I started, so I’ll probably talk about this more in-depth later.

3. Removing
Wait a second! The library removes books? Yeahbsolutely, my friends. If we didn’t remove books from the shelves, we would run out of space to put new books in and I would have some very. ugly. books. on my shelves. Especially books that are borrowed by kids! Kids are sticky and if you read a book too many times, it tends to fall apart. Such is the life of a book. But once it’s fallen apart, I can’t keep it on the shelf! Sure it looks well-loved but it can make it difficult to see the books on either side of it. What do we do with these books? Offer, book sale, or discard!


That person you see when you come in to the library? Sometimes they are a librarian, but also sometimes they’re not. How to tell the difference? It really doesn’t matter in that context. Whoever is at the front (circulation) desk when you walk in is just as able to help! That person also answers the phone, so we answer a lot of questions at the library.

Sometimes those questions are things like “Do you have solar eclipse glasses?” (NO) and sometimes they’re things like “What’s the phone number for _____?” (Hm let me look that up for you). Sometimes it’s “Can I renew this/put it on hold/do you have it available?” (Maybe, Maybe, Maybe, let me check!) and sometimes it’s “What time do you close?” (8pm Mon-Wed, 6pm Thur-Fri, 2pm Sat).

We also check materials out, help people with the computers, make copies, direct volunteers, help patrons find items in the library, help them find a book they might like, etc. etc. etc. A lot happens at the front desk!

Everything Else

As you may have noticed, we wear many hats at the library. A lot of this is just my experience and I’m still pretty new to this job, but everyone in the library wears many hats. There’s a lot to be done. It’s hard to think of what specifically falls under the umbrella of everything else, but there’s a lot of it.

Well, that just about sums it up, I think. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but hey. I’m only one easily distracted librarian. Of course, this blog is all my own opinion and experience and cannot be applied unilaterally across librarians. Not even across those who held this exact position in this exact library before me. There are some things one librarian is just more interested in than another librarian.

As of right now, I plan to write about how I select books to add/remove to/from the library, how I do storytime, and there was something else but now I can’t think of it. Hopefully I’ll be true to my idea and actually do these things. I’d also like to get book reviews up and running again, but we’ll see. They were such a chore to do, even though I chose to do them!