Blogger Katie Salo

Thoughts On Scheduling Storytime

It is the eternal battle for storytime librarians. I see it on Twitter and listservs, I hear it from co-workers and neighboring libraries — how and when do you schedule your storytimes?

In an ideal world, there would be a storytime that began every fifteen minutes in every library so that any child would be able to attend regardless of their never-ending schedule of naps and feedings and preschool and Mommy & Me classes and doctor’s appointments. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

We do the very best that we can to provide for our patrons.

This past year, I added a monthly evening storytime for my patrons to work around their busy schedules. And for the first time since I started at my job, evening storytime is flourishing and gaining numbers while morning storytime is lagging.

I’ve decided to take the months of December and January off from morning storytime to try and figure out what I need to do to increase my morning attendance again.

Previously, we’ve done Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m. since 2006. Should we be having storytime at 9:30 or wait until 11:00? Do I need to change my day? Is it finally time to start doing a babies/toddlers storytime in the morning and save preschool for immediately after-school?

I wish I could say that I have the answers that I know many of us are seeking. But all I can say is that I have the willingness and chance to change my habits to try and better serve my patrons.

So, tell me, have you radically changed when you schedule your storytimes? What worked? What flopped? Let me know!

– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library
http://storytimekatie.com

9 comments

  1. Jordan

    Hi Kate!

    I faced a similar issue with storytime scheduling when I took my current position. We had practically no one showing up. I just started asking parents/caregivers what they wanted from me. If they would’ve all said they didn’t want storytime, I would’ve laid off it. I found that they wanted afternoons, though. We’ve been seeing a steady group of about 40 since I started doing them Wednesdays at 3pm. From this core group, I was able to identify a morning (Fridays at 11:15) that worked for most and we’re getting that started after the holidays.

  2. Sarah Bean Thompson

    We’re going to be doing a short survey with our patrons in January and February to ask them what days/times work best, including some afternoon and evening times. Right now we do storytime on Tuesday 10 & 11:15, Wednesday 10 & 11:15 and Friday 10. We have huge numbers for toddlers and we need to expand, but we’re trying to figure out what time would work best. Hopefully we can get some good feedback and start adding some times that work. I’d also like to host an evening storytime or something on the weekend, but so far, those don’t get huge numbers. Same with baby storytime. There’s no perfect time, and like you said, we could do storytime every hour of every day and have someone show up! But we’re doing what we can to offer something for everyone! Good luck!

  3. Jennifer

    We have changed a LOT like, every year almost! Right now we’re doing Toddlers at 10 and 11 on Tuesday, Preschool at 10 on Wednesday, and Babies at 10 on Thursday. We have a twice monthly evening storytime on Mondays at 6:30. I’m thinking about moving all the storytimes up to 9:30, so the second toddler session could be at 10:30 and I could fit another lapsit into Wednesday. Maybe.

    I’ve been asked for afternoon storytimes and tried it for about six months but nobody came. I’ve discovered that people don’t like coming to something at a specific time, so I have three after school clubs that are open to all ages and drop in, which works really well.

    Preschool is our most iffy one. It’s really hard to get people with three year olds to move from toddlers to preschool (especially since two different people do the storytimes) and so many kids are in preschool or 4k. However, every time I think I’ll have to cancel it, a few more people show up and we continue on!

  4. Gretchen

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s had this problem. When I started in my current position, we had a longstanding tradition of both of our story time groups (toddlers and preschool) meeting at 10:30am and 2pm. Preschoolers didn’t come at all to the morning session, and toddlers did not come at all in the afternoon. After speaking with my patrons, I found out that the preschool the majority of the kids attend does not get out until 10:45. Moving that group to 11am made a world of difference! As for the toddlers, many parents mentioned that their kids are napping around 2pm. Our 10:30am class for this group seems to be the perfect window, so I’ll be eliminating the afternoon class and adding another morning one in the new year. Talking to my patrons really, really helped in this situation. Before I started offering Baby Time earlier this year, I informally surveyed the parents and picked the time that worked best for them as well. Our program attendance is way above where it was before I started, and I think it’s mainly because it’s easier for people to attend story time now.

  5. Jennifer

    Just remember you’ll never make everyone happy. We used to have storytimes at 9am, at 9:30, at 11am, at 3:30, at 6:30, all different times and days, and every time we changed something I would get about equal comments of “we love this, it’s so much better for us!” “we hate this, why didn’t you leave it the way it was, we’re not going to attend storytime anymore” and then the majority who just showed up whenever we had it, apparently.

  6. Abby Johnson

    *nods* It is always a struggle to find the best times. Everyone here seems to want everything in the morning, but there are only so many mornings and so much meeting room space!! We’re trying some afternoon stuff and so far it’s been slow to build, but it HAS been building, so we’re sticking with it. And I have a new staff person coming on in January, so hopefully this spring we’ll start having a weekly evening storytime. (We always get requests from working parents to have evening stuff, but then when we offer it, it’s very poorly attended.)

    Another problem we run into is that our local Head Start classes all seem to want field trips on the same days and times and we’re limited in what we can offer (limited meeting room space!). It’s an ongoing struggle!

  7. Carrie

    Since I started my job in April and our summer reading storytimes were already scheduled, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted come fall. Over the summer I set out a survey with a dozen different time slots and asked people to choose their top three, and let me know how old their kids were. We ended up scheduling babytime on Wednesdays at 11am (since most of those kids are taking a morning and an afternoon nap), toddlers at 10am on Fridays and preschoolers at 11am on Fridays. We are only open two evenings a week, otherwise I might consider trying a later storytime.

  8. ELIZABETH BOMBA

    We have (almost) every possible scenario for storytime. We run a Tuesday & Wednesday storytime at 9:30 & 10:30. The Toddlertime has parents with their child while we have a On My Own storytime running simultaneously for 3yrs and up without parents. This is registered. We also have Family Drop-in storytimes at 1:30 Tuesday, 6:30 Wednesday, and 10am Thursday.

    We have found the difference in numbers is this: Our registered programs attendance starts out strong and then slows down while the drop-in programs attendance grows as the program runs.

    I’m interested in seeing how a weekend program would work. We haven’t done one due to lower staff on weekends, but we’ve been thinking about it.

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