Blogger Meg Smith

Rest for the Weary

Those of us in youth services have a deep desire to reach as many children and their families as possible.  We know the real impact this can make, so we increase our programs, volunteer to serve as the YS representative on a larger committee, and add staff to work our reference desks to provide better service. This willingness to go the extra mile is laudable, but it’s not just a nicety but also a necessity that we give ourselves a break after our busy summer reading club.

This allows us to evaluate our work, think of some creative program plans, and prevents the legitimate issue of staff burn-out. How can we ensure we have this time before the school bell rings to begin another academic year?

Taking a breakFor some of us, this could mean a well-deserved vacation. For the rest of us not able to take time off this month, we can make some deliberate changes in how we approach our work that will leave us rejuvenated before our patrons request help with that first homework assignment.

Carve it into the schedule — Our library system takes off three months of the year (May, August, and December) from presenting weekly story times.  We still have special programs to bring in the crowds, but significantly cutting back on our weekly programming allows us to build in the time necessary to plan our next series of events. When we take a break, whether it’s from presenting story times, cutting back on outreach programs, or coordinating those meetings, it allows us to free up our schedule so we may give other projects our attention.

Change the priorities — If you’re not able to take a break from specific projects or programs, August could be the time to shift your focus. This might be the time to get back on track with weeding or to switch your programming emphasis and plan to work with a different age range. If we make changes to our daily work routine, this may be enough for us to avoid fatigue by redirecting our energy to other valuable tasks.

Celebrate the milestones — You can never be too busy to celebrate with your co-workers, and the celebration doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Capture the end of a rewarding summer reading program with a branch potluck. Send internal awards to thank your co-workers for their efforts. It’s a conscious decision to add fun into the day and to acknowledge the conclusion of a program, service, or project.

While it’s impossible for all of us to take some time to enjoy some fun in the sun this August, there are ways we can build in this down time at the end of a rewarding and exhausting summer reading club. During this time of year, how do you recharge in time for your back to school rush? Please share below in the comments!



  1. Sarah West

    We are still going strong in August but we take the first week of September off from programs and usually have a staff meeting where we have cake or other goodies and talk about how well we did (as well as what we would do different). We take December and June off as well as the week after March Break every year. No programs at those times. Clients often complain but we hold firm that it is needed for staff to regroup.

  2. Michelle Peltier

    Whew! Our SRP ended last week with prize giveaway. I was on (a much needed) vacation for the week. This year was the “learning experience” year, as my supervisor and I had not done a SRP 1) at this library, 2) together, 3) and in my case, I had never planned and executed programming for an SRP. My supervisor is on (a much needed) vacation this week. We definitely burnt ourselves out and are already making definitive plans for next year to sort of curb our enthusiasm for MORE MORE MORE and make it LESS LESS LESS but BETTER BETTER BETTER. As for specific programming breaks, we take off May and August, as well as the winter break on the school calendar. I hope everyone takes time to reflect, and to have a delicious adult beverage as well.

  3. Holly Koster

    We cut out all our programming for about the first 2 weeks of August. I take one of those weeks for vacation and our branch manager takes the other. Our programming will actually start back up next week on Friday. That means we’re going full force again about the same time that the kids go back to school.

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