Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Week in the Life of a Children's Librarian

I've given you a glimpse into many of my days as a children's librarian, but to be fair, I tend to pick days in which I'm doing a program or something's going on. I thought it might be useful to give you a look into a week of what goes on in our department, so today I'm posting about last week.

I work in a department of six people, total, and we all do programs, work on the desk, etc. Last week was particularly busy for me, personally, because several of the programs I had planned happened to fall on the same week. But the program load is pretty typical for a summer week for us. In the summer, our department gets very busy whenever we have a program because families come in to collect prizes for the summer reading club, check out books, etc.

I was working day shifts every day this week (generally each full-time person in my department works one evening a week, but this week I had a program Thursday morning, so I worked the day shift instead). The day shift is 8:45-5:15, but I generally arrive between 8:30 and 8:40. And since I'm the boss (and therefore salaried), I often stay late, especially in the summer. I didn't leave before 5:30 any day this week and a couple of days I stayed until 6 or 6:30. (I'm not complaining - just letting you know! This is how it is during the summer!)

So, here was my week:


We had a member of the education staff at the Louisville Orchestra come and offer two Story and Music Workshops for the kids. I was not in charge of this program, but I did pop in a couple of times because we had never had them at our library and I wanted to see how it was going. With all our paid performers, we have a staff person in the room with them, taking attendance, doing crowd control (in some cases), and just there in case she's needed.

This Monday's also time sheet day, so I have to collect everyone's time sheet, make sure they're accurate, sign them, and record each employee's days worked in her record sheet.


We had Toddler Time for 2's and 3's at 10:00 and then Preschool Storytime for 3-5's at 11:00. I didn't do either of these programs, but I did sit in on the Toddler Time since T will be on vacation next week and I'll have to do the program. There is always this perfect storm on Tuesday mornings, right in between the two programs when we have everyone from the Toddler Time still hanging out in the department and then the older kids gathering for the next storytime. It's all hands on deck!


I had Mother Goose on the Loose in the morning. This is our baby program and this week we had 19 babies and toddlers (under 2). This is a little too crowded for comfort, so I may open an additional session in the fall (though at that time the crowds may have died down...)

In the afternoon, I helped H with her Percy Jackson Party. We had just about 30 kids in grades 3 and up. We did a trivia contest, ate blue foods, and made a camp necklace craft. Fun! But it took a lot of prep work to set up and decorate the room. Whew.


We had Toddler Time at 10:00 - I sat in again. Then at 11:00 I offered a program called Float or Sink. This was for K-2nd graders and I read a few stories and then we experimented by placing objects in small tubs of water to see which would float and which would sink.

Thursday afternoon we had a group come from a local day care. A and I read stories about summer and then we did a craft, decorating foam visors left over from a craft from last year.

After the program, I had a collection development meeting with my boss and some of the other department heads.


I had a craft program in the afternoon. We've been doing drop-in crafts almost every Friday in the summer. We wanted to have at least one all-ages, drop-in (as in people don't have to register) program every week and the crafts have been going well. We've had 30-40 kids come each week.


Keep in mind that for each of these programs we have to set up and take down the room. This includes moving tables and chairs, putting out tablecloths, craft supplies, etc. It might include decorating the room. And, of course, taking everything down after we're done. This generally adds 30-60 minutes to the time it takes for each program.

In between all these programs, I'm working the desk and doing other things. I actually have a lighter desk load than the other people in my department, but typically each person is scheduled 10-15 hours per week on the desk. In my department we generally only schedule one person on desk at a time, though there are almost always other people around to help cover if we get busy. In the summer, people often sit extra hours on the desk to help cover busy spells. During the summer, working on the desk entails signing kids up and awarding prizes for the Summer Reading Club, as well as answering reference and directional questions, helping people with computers, finding books for patrons, signing people up for programs, etc.

I'm also following up on everyone's programs, making sure my staff members have all the materials they need, making sure that things are going okay. I'm working on a book order. I get help from my staff in putting together the orders, but I go through each order before we submit it, making sure we're not duplicating something and dividing the carts up so that it's easier for budgeting. This week I registered for the CYPD Conference, so I was also picking out sessions and booking a hotel for us.

It's always a constant struggle to keep the Stuff from piling up on my desk. Each week I go through donated books to select what we'd like for our collection or prizes (the rest go to the Friends of the Library Book Sale). And if I ever have a spare moment, I try to catch up on the professional journals piling up. Or I grab a cart and do a little weeding. (Weeding is hard because I love to do it, but it tends to be on the bottom of my priority list because there's no real deadline...)

And I could go on and on about all the other little things I do during the week, but this post is monstrous and you get the idea anyway. This is a week in the life of a children's librarian! Is it any wonder I'm counting down the days 'til August? :)