Guest Blogger

Tips for the Traveling Librarian

Summer is the busiest time of year for youth services librarians.  Many travel between libraries and are juggling several different programs at once while maintaining regular job duties.  Even if you don’t travel between libraries, I have several tips on how to stay organized (and keep your sanity!) during these crazy sunny months.

Prioritize to Create Balance
Prioritize to Create Balance
In general I, along with other youth services librarians, strive to overachieve–we want to do everything!  Part of healthy travel and a good work life is realizing that you can only do what you can do.  Create a list of realistic goals for the summer and reward yourself when you achieve them–the key is being realistic.

Packing the Storytime BoxThe Storytime Box has been my most important tool when it comes to organizing and traveling with storytime.  Often times I have several projects going at once and it is easy for storytime supplies to get mixed in with other areas.  In order to create more order I created a storytime box.  Everything for storytime goes inside the box .  It is decorated with shiny paper to get attention and the kids know storytime begins when we say “Open story box, open!”

Get DirectionsGet directions
When doing a program, get directions in the sense of know your audience.  What works for one group may not work for another.  Know your end goal and create steps, “directions” on how to get there.

Have a Backup Plan
Have a Backup Plan
When all else fails, it is important to have a backup plan.  We generally keep about six or seven backup plans on hand that can be used any time of the year.  You can’t predict illness or family emergencies.  Our backup plans include full storytime plans complete with a simple coloring sheet or craft.  My co-workers know exactly what storytime themes and programs are going to be done the next week.  And, because I tend to vocalize most of my thoughts they generally are familiar with the books, songs and activities that are going to be performed!

Emergency Kit for…the Wiggles!
Emergency Kit for the Wiggles
When performing a storytime, keep an Emergency Kit for the Wiggles on hand.  Keeping things like a magic wand, storytime dust and a CD or IPOD list of your favorite wiggly songs can come in handy.  Check out the “Emergency Kit for…the Wiggles!” ALSC post for more information.

“Communicating is the key!” If I had a dollar for every time someone said that, I would be rich!  If I had listened every time someone said that, I would be smart!  Having a weekly check in (even if you are not a supervisor) is a great idea so everyone knows what you are planning.  Sending out a weekly email with new events and even a “job well done” is also a nice touch to keep morale going strong.

Enjoy the Scenery
Enjoy the sceneryA friend once said “There is no such thing as getting lost, it’s just enjoying different scenery.”  It is amazing how much I can plan for storytime and then how quickly those plans change.  What is important is to just have fun.  Even if you get lost, you can still enjoy what you are doing.  And, as long as you can laugh and enjoy yourself, most likely everyone else will too.


Katie LawsonOur guest blogger today is Kathleen (Katie) Lawson. Katie has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Literacy Education and is a Youth Services Librarian at the Shanklin Branch Library, of the Lincoln County Public Library in Denver, NC.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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

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