I will be the first to admit that I am having a hard time jumping onto the “virtual” services train. I did not become a Librarian to sit at home and provide virtual content. I have been crabby and unmotivated. It seems that the hardest thing for me to want to do is virtual programs. All I keep thinking is…
- How am I realistically and effectively going to connect with kids
- Aren’t they all sick of sitting in front of their computers already? They must have virtual fatigue, too.
- They probably won’t even watch the programs I conduct anyways.
But the longer this pandemic lasts, the more I’ve been realizing and accepting that this is the way things are- for now and for the foreseeable future- and I need to get creative in my new role as a Virtual Youth Services Librarian. I miss my families, and I would bet they are missing me too. I’ve had to find new ways to love my job and wanted to share them with you as well.
The first way I have found motivation is through networking. It has been helpful to attend virtual huddles/meetups/webinars of librarians around the country. I’ve heard from people who have jumped in with both feet and have many ideas to share as well as people who are struggling like me. I have found inspiration in others’ programs ideas and solace in others’ grief. Despite the virtual fatigue, I think it’s important to connect with people during this time.
The second way I have found motivation is by thinking about the programs that I already conduct and love, the programs that kids show up to every time. How can I change the format of these programs to fit for families at home- prerecorded, webinar, or meeting style? What supplies do I have in my tiny apartment that patrons may have at home that I can use during these programs? Are we able to provide supply bags for patrons to pick up so that they can attend these virtual offerings? I want families to be excited that their favorite programs are still happening and I want to make it as easy as possible for them (and for me) to access.
The final way I have found motivation is by thinking about the flexibility we have now! Normally, my library system has a specific set of programming planning procedures but now we are free to change things up and try new things. This is a great time to experiment with a new program that you have been wanting to try but are not sure about. You only have to commit to doing it once if you want to! We also do many “series” programs so this gives me a chance to conduct a “one-off” program. A few program ideas that I have had in mind are creating a tween zine, at home scavenger hunts, observation types of experiments, virtual bingo and trivia, cooking programs, and challenges/contests. I would also really enjoy conducting a craft or STEAM program where participants can send me a picture of their final products.
I think that wherever you are at in your virtual programming journey- stuck on the platform or speeding down the rails- it is okay. We are all in this together and we will get there! We will find ways to serve our patrons during this time, we will get past this, and we will learn something new along the way- whether that be about ourselves or our services to patrons!
Tanya Prax is a Youth Services Librarian for Arapahoe Library District in Denver, Colorado. She is also the upcoming chair for the ALSC Membership Committee. She enjoys reading kids fantasy, adult thrillers, and watching many movies. Email her at email@example.com. Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC. This blog post addresses two core competencies of ALSC- commitment to client group and programming skills.