Administrative and Management Skills

Pondering Indoor Story Times

This next phase of the “new normal” as I so often hear it phrased, means indoor programs are on the horizon. Of course, there are many heroic libraries and librarians that have been doing in-person and indoor programs for many months, or maybe over a year. Indoor programs and relaunching a regular service of programs brings a lot of feelings and emotions to the front of my mind. Now that I am in management, I won’t have to do any of the programs, but I want to ensure that my staff feels safe and comfortable. However, I also want to provide an opportunity for education and fun at the library for youth and their families.

The Pros:

  • This is an opportunity to rethink the programs that you have offerered, and try something new!
  • An end to the “story time monster” (my definition of library systems and communities that want a million story times at every hour)
  • Think about the communities you don’t reach and can try to allocate resources to them
  • Start slow, you can always add more programs later (so staff can slowly, and thoughtfully connect back)
  • Use some other resources, maybe a projection to screen online stories or mats/parachutes to delinate spaces.

The Cons:

  • The pandemic is still happening and safety is a HIGH concern!
  • The public is ready for anything and everything and they want it all, yesterday (high demand for normalcy).
  • Many systems are short-staffed (more than usual), and may be doing a different variety of jobs right now
  • Kids under 12 aren’t vaccinated, how do we keep them and ourselves safe?
  • The challenge of planning for the future when everything is unknown (this is always true, but more so with how the pandemic has changed everything)

Other things I am thinking about:

  • Does indoor programming mean the end of passive/self-directed programming or virtual programming?
  • Should we ask for preregistration for programming?
  • Should there be limits on attendance, if so, what should they be?
  • Do we need to refresh story time rules and behavior rules?
  • Can we offer programming in another room or space?
  • Are my staff ready and comfortable with this new directive? If not, how can I help? If so, what are their ideas?

These are just some ideas and questions to ponder as I think about indoor programs and how they might look. If you have been doing indoor programming or are thinking about these decisions, please share best practices in the comments!

One comment

  1. Sharon

    I’m reading this article in early August as the Delta variant is ramping up yet another wave of the pandemic with all new concerns about masking, vaccinated people who can transimit to unvaccinated people(anyone under 12 at this point.) and so much more. Going inside to do programming is not a real option until covid is under actual control. Things change rapidly and we just roll with it as best we can. Outdoor programming like Sidewalk Science or Story Time in the Park or any other fun thing we can do in the open air is how we’re going about things right now. I look forward to the time when we can gather groups inside again but it looks like that’s not here yet.

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