It seems impossible, given that summer reading has just ended, but Winter Programs plans (December, January, and February) are due in just two weeks at my library.
I always find it a challenge to corral my ideas and those of my staff when planning. It’s not just what we want to do…it’s what we should do.
First, we put in the programs we are “charged” with doing (though we’d do most anyway!). Our storytimes. Any centralized program coming from our administration. For example, we have a partnership called Readers’ Boost Camp, helping struggling beginning readers, that has sessions in both the fall and in the spring. I also am a Family Place trained librarian, and we hold their required parent/child programs twice yearly. We must ensure these programs are scheduled.
Then comes the challenge! I print out calendars of the months in question and put in all school vacations and holidays. Parents are often looking for something for their children to do when they have a random day off, and we try to program to that. For example, I’m having a local park system come in on a statewide Teacher In-service Day—all children in the area will be free!
Next we look at age levels. Do we have a balance between early childhood, school-aged events, and tween programs? How does the teen department’s plans mesh with ours? Do we have something book-related? Something STEAM-related? We have an Innovation Center in our library—a Maker Space. We “make” sure we have something related to its content every quarter.
How do you approach the programming challenge? Do you have any best practices you follow? I’d love to know how others approach this task.
This post covers the Core Competency of Programming Skills.
Smart idea to book something on an inservice day!
I work at a small branch in a system with about 20 other children’s librarians, and I have a lot of agency over branch programming. I try to set my entire school year at one time (by August), and my entire summer at one time (by January). I run the same weekly programs — a movie, preschool storytime, LEGO time, afterschool rotating maker stuff, and toddler Play Cafe — all school year. At times we’ve also had a weekly Read to a Dog visit. We know what’s happening each day of the week, and there are days that don’t have a lot scheduled where I can put special events. I know that I also have classroom outreach, meetings, and systemwide events. I mark any school breaks, holidays and celebrations, and my vacation on the planning calendar.
Then I brainstorm by assigning each month a slot for Performer, Craft, and Event (like a party or slime making extravaganza). Our central children’s office offers craft kits that I can use, which helps round out the schedule and stick to budget. I try to fill no fewer than 2 and no more than 3 of these slots. It keeps me from overbooking!
Performer: storyteller for Native American Heritage Month
Craft: Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls
[long vacation + Winter Bingo]
Craft: Ojos de Dios
Event: Cookie Decorating
Craft: Snow Globes
Wow! Thanks for sharing! Yes, adding outreach to your planning calendar is also a great idea, so you have a complete idea of what you are doing when.