Blogger Abby Johnson

Keeping On Track

Last week, as I opened up my program and meeting planning document to make the agenda for this week’s Children’s Department meeting, I noticed the note I had left for myself:

March 1 – Make planning document for 2014-2015

And since it’s on my mind, I wanted to share how I (attempt to) keep our department organized, plan for programming seasons, and make sure our program calendars get out in a timely manner.

A little background…

Our Children’s Department has a staff of 4 full-time (including myself) and 2 part-time employees. We serve a population of about 75,000 people. Our library does not have a person in charge of publicity and marketing for the library. It’s every department for itself!

When I first started in my position as Children’s Department Manager, one of my biggest challenges was figuring out how to get everything planned and get program calendars and publicity out on time. We also had issues with getting everyone on the same page. We didn’t have a regular department meeting schedule, and trying to find time every month when everyone was scheduled to be here was really difficult.

So I took the bull by the horns…

The first thing I did was schedule regular department meetings. I settled on the first Monday of the month in the early afternoon when our department is likely to be quiet (before the kids get out of school). Now, as I make my schedule I just make sure to schedule everyone to be here.

My next issue was figuring out what we needed to talk about at the meetings. It was great to have them scheduled, but they’d come up and I’d have no idea what needed to be on the agenda.

I made a planning schedule…

I started with the Summer Reading Club and worked my way backwards until I had filled in the entire year. (Yes, my planning document goes from June-May). I thought about how far in advance I would ideally like to have decorations up, prizes ordered, school visits scheduled, publicity calendars out… and I penciled in all those dates. Once I had those dates figured, I put in agenda topics for our monthly meetings so that I could make sure to get everyone on board and leave enough time to get everyone’s input or assign duties or plan programs.

Other significant programming times of the year include school breaks, the holidays, and the beginning of the school year. I made sure to include time for us to debrief the Summer Reading Club, time for us to talk about our storytime schedule and make sure it’s still working, etc.

Planning for each community will be different…

Your school schedule’s not the same as ours. You may do programming calendars differently than we do. You have different big events to plan for. But there might be some important milestones throughout the year that might be similar for us.

We take a break from programming in August and I always try to have the September/October program calendar out by mid-July so that we can be promoting those programs with all the families that come in to finish up the Summer Reading Club. I try to get our November/December calendar published before our community’s fall festival in October, when I know we’ll be seeing lots of new people. I make sure to stay on top of the ordering deadlines for the Collaborative Summer Library Program and consider when we’re likely to have a workshop from our State Library consultant talking about summer programming.

Here is the calendar I’m using for the upcoming year:

Please feel free to download that calendar, use it, tweak it, change it so that it fits your needs.

And please let me know what tools and tricks you use to make sure your department planning and programming is running smoothly!

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


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