You’ve planned your storytimes weeks in advance and then suddenly, the night before the program, you’re hit with the flu. Or maybe you can’t speak — whatever your ailment, you absolutely cannot do storytime the next day.
This month’s blog topic comes directly from Twitter and this afternoon several youth librarians brainstormed ideas with me about what to do when it happens. (Thank you all who sent ideas and especially Anne for coming up with my topic!)
- Have another staff member cover. Make sure that your plans are accessible. The picture to the right is my storytime drawer. Full of books, separated by week. Each file folder has the rhymes I’ve planned and often the flannel pieces are right there in plastic storage bags.
- If someone wouldn’t feel comfortable taking over your planned storytime, have a back-up storytime theme ready to go that all staff members have practiced with.
- Train staff members and supervisors to do storytimes so that they are available to cover. Spend time to make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of someone’s absence.
- Put out craft supplies and have an impromptu playdate instead of storytime. A library staff member can supervise and parents will still feel like they attended a program at the library that day. Remember, play is now included as one of the five practices in Every Child Ready to Read!
- Have do-it-yourself storytime kits available for check-out. Los Angeles County Libraries have these kits for patrons to check-out year round. For an easier version that staff members could whip up with a little bit of notice, look at Amy’s take-home storytime kits at the Show Me Librarian. Make sure to have your labels pre-made and your ribbons nearby. Other staff members should be able to handle the rest.
- When all else fails, try to notify patrons ahead of time. If you do registration for storytime, call every family. If you do drop-in storytime, post a message on the library’s website and social media accounts. Have staff members apologize if a family does stop in and no other activity has been planned.
At my library, I’m the only librarian who does storytime. I’ve had to cancel for inclement weather before and parents have been very understanding. As for when I’m down with an illness, I ask a staff member to grab their favorites from our in-house storytime collection. Storytime isn’t the same without Miss Katie, but the show did go on!
Do you have any ideas to add? Or any suggestions for what to do if you’re the only youth librarian? Let me know in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library