Pace Yourself!

Life for most of us is finally reopening after 2+ years of the pandemic. Children’s Librarians are ready to jump back into action but be aware there’s a “new normal” for us to return to. Programs may be in-person, on-line or a hybrid version. We have not only maintained our usual job assignments but some may have various versions of them. In addition, there are new ones we’ve taken over due to staff shortages or reassignments. We try to do them all to the best of our ability however, we should remember to pace ourselves.  Burnout can happen to anyone, especially those with good intentions. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when your schedule fills up. 

Keep it simple

Use simple activities as mini-programs added onto a scheduled storytime in house, or offer as take-home activities a few times throughout your series. For example, have two glasses of water. One has yellow food dye in it, the other blue. Pour them into a glass bowl and green appears! (This can be great for St. Patrick’s Day or color themed storytimes.)

Focus on a short series (1-2) of STEM programs while pausing story times.

Designate a specific date for a special activity program such as music, STEM or other. For instance, during SRP promotion to schools in the Spring, offer a couple of one time programs for your younger community like a dance day or program you already have set for larger groups.

Outsource ideas

Trade or exchange one of your storytime programs with a nearby librarian who has programs at the ready. Often called a “Round Robin,” each librarian plans one program and repeats it at each location. That way each location has a Children’s Librarian inhouse and different programs for each of their communities.

Hire programs from Children’s museums, children’s performer or learning centers that offer programs/activities when you need to focus on another age group.

Use resources already available to you for programming to expedite your prep time. Check out:

Take breaks

Schedule storytime breaks throughout your year. Yes, plan for them so you can keep your community informed on what and why you are having them. It will also help your own mental and physical health.

These are only a few suggestions to help you be more efficient with your time and energy. See any possibilities for you? Did any of these give you another idea? Be on the lookout for an upcoming “First Steps” School Library Journal article by Rachel Payne and Brandy Sanchez on “burnout.” Share your suggestions with fellow librarians, near and far. This will enable all of us to stay fresh and excite children about libraries and reading!

Linda Ernst is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs & Services Committee. She is also the author of Baby Rhyming Time and Essential Lapsit Guide. She can be reached at lindalernst@gmail.com.

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