Summer reading has arrived. By now, many public librarians are hard at work implementing all the fun programs that have been in the works for months now. Performers, STEAM, movies, story-walks, storytimes, free lunches, and so much more. Staff in the youth department is hopping. As a manager, there are some inexpensive ways to help everyone keep cool, calm, and as stress free as possible.
There is not a lot of downtime at the library during summer but before the hectic work day begins, take a minute to leave notes of encouragement and praise to staff. Everyone appreciates being recognized for their hard work and it will help staff push through the really tough days knowing management recognizes their commitment to summer reading. Keep a white board up in a staff area and encourage staff to share positive moments they have helped facilitate during summer, i.e. a book suggestion was well received by a child, a caregiver mentioned how much a school age kid enjoyed the juggling program.
Then there is perhaps the easiest way to many hearts. Food! At summer staff meetings, make it fun with an ice cream party or root beer float event. A big library system may have the staff and space to host a lunch hour taco bar for everyone. (And by everyone, this includes staff beyond youth services. Lest we forget, our colleagues in circulation are handling the many check-outs, check-ins, and requests that we are encouraging our patrons to place.)
Some academic libraries have been able to bring in animals like dogs or small ponies for staff to interact with. It’s a fun way to bring down stress in everyone.
Encourage each staff member to read for summer reading. Have small, fun prizes for most pages read, most genres read, new authors discovered, hours spent listening to audiobooks, etc. Sometimes a little friendly competition is a great antidote to stress.
Also, check in with staff. Are they drinking enough water during the work day? Are they taking their mandated breaks (this varies by library obviously but perhaps more than any time of the year, breaks are needed and should be encouraged to be taken). Fill in so staff can rotate through their breaks. Check in with staff to make sure every aspect of summer reading makes sense to them and at the end of the program, solicit their input to make SRP even better and more patron and staff friendly.
Do you have a concrete example of something you’ve done as a manager to help relieve the fun and zaniness of summer? Or, are you a librarian who has benefited from a manager that strives to make summer reading as easy breezy as possible? Please share in the comments.
Sarah Wethern is the youth librarian at the Douglas County Library in Alexandria, Minnesota. She is a member of ALSC’s Managing Children’s Services Committee.