Seeing It From the Other Side: Programming

As you might recall from my blog post last month, I recently switched gears in my professional life. After eight years of working with teens in public libraries, I am now an elementary school librarian in a large, urban public school. I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about how the two jobs intersect. This month I’m discussing programming and how it relates to what I do in my current job.

When I was a teen services librarian, I had a love/hate relationship with programming. The thrilling highs when tons of happy faces exited the library after a successful venture didn’t always make up for the crushing lows when nobody showed up for the program I’d spent time and taxpayer dollars on.

Still, I had supportive management who let me try lots of different things and tailor my programming to whatever teens were asking for. When I sat down to figure out what I’d be offering in the coming months, I was only bound by my own imagination and what I knew would appeal to teens. Whatever worked I was free to continue, and whatever tanked, I was free to abandon. If the program served only to entertain teens, that was okay. There didn’t need to be an educational angle or goal to guide the program.

In my current job, “programming” isn’t part of the vernacular. It takes the form of “lesson planning” or “lesson collaboration” and needs to align with certain educational standards. So far what I have offered and been asked to offer looks a lot like storytime, which is okay by me. I love finding stories that appeal to the grade levels I’m serving. One thing I’ve had success with is using nonfiction picture books as read-alouds, which I will discuss in a future post.

I’m looking for ways that I can branch out beyond just the storytime/book club model (though those are worthy enough in their own right). I’ve been to some training sessions that have given me some good ideas and I’ve also started building a new school librarian/educator PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter and Pinterest. One goal I have is to offer hands-on learning experiences in the library.

One thing that programming or lesson planning have in common is appeal to an audience of young people. In either scenario, a librarian is trying to make a connection that helps the young person, whether it be through education, enlightenment, or pure entertainment.

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Angela Frederick. Angela is currently a school librarian with Metro Nashville Public Schools; she has eight years experience working with teens in public libraries in Nashville and San Antonio. She will be serving on YALSA’s Printz committee in 2014.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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