As a school librarian member of ALSC, I have a programming hiatus thanks to our summer break. I enjoy the break and time off to refresh and renew. As the new school year approaches, though, I am beginning to look ahead to programming for this year. This will be my sixth year in the library but only my second year as a full-time school librarian, and I know that thinking about a year of programming can be daunting. So, for this ALSC SAPS blog, I thought I’d offer a few tips for my fellow librarians who are similarly in the planning stages for a year of programming!
My first tip is for those of my fellow librarians who are also relatively new to this profession: Remember that you don’t have to do it all all at once!
When I began work as a librarian, I had So. Many. Ideas! It was tempting to try to do them all in a single year. I took a deep breath, however, and decided to take a more measured approach. For my first year as a full-time librarian, I set a goal of hosting one special library program each month. This way, I could focus on developing a quality program for each month while juggling my other duties as the school librarian.
To select my monthly programs, I began by creating a list of all my ideas for programs. I looked at our curriculum’s scope and sequence for all content areas. I reviewed a calendar of cultural history months and diversity celebrations.
I reviewed my inventory of crafts and maker supplies and thought about logistics and feasibility of certain activities. I also checked out opportunities to collaborate with our local independent bookstores on author visits and other events. Once I had all this information, I ultimately settled on ten programs that I would conduct throughout the year.
Now that I am going into my second year, I will start my planning with things I have done before. So my second tip for planning year-long programming: build on what’s been done before! This year, I will first tweak what I did last year. I will consider what worked well and what did not go so smoothly with the programs I did last year, and I will look at patron feedback that I gathered.
What if this is your first year? You can still build on what has been done before! Search this blog for programming ideas that may work well for your patron population. (That’s what we are here for after all!) Check out Teachers Pay Teachers (teacherspayteachers.com) for programming ideas. Peruse Pinterest or social media for inspiration. I always get a lot of ideas from fellow librarians that I follow on Instagram and in the Learning Librarians (https://www.facebook.com/groups/LearningLibrarians/) group on Facebook. Even though I’m a middle school librarian, I get programming ideas from librarians at all types of libraries! For example, one of my favorite resources, The Book Wrangler (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Thebookwrangler or https://www.instagram.com/thebookwrangler/?hl=en), is an elementary school librarian.
After you’ve built on what’s been done before, add something new! My goal for this year is to increase my programs to two a month. I will go back to my brainstorming list, the curriculum map, and my history month and celebrations resources and mine all that data for programming ideas. For example, three programs I really wanted to do last year but did not have time to pull together were a Lunar New Year celebration, an Origami Day in our makerspace, and March Math Madness. Because I made notes and gathered information last year, I am prepared to add those programs this year.
My final tip: Go with the flow! If you don’t immediately come up with an idea for every month or every programming slot that you have, take a breath and give it time! Two of my favorite programs that I did last year arose spontaneously. An organization unexpectedly offered me free advance screening passes for The School for Good and Evil on Netflix, which ignited a super fun book vs. movie event with students who read at least the first book in the series by Soman Chainani. My students were constantly asking for manga. After I got a DonorsChoose grant to add a bunch of manga titles to our collection, I decided to reveal all of the great new books at a Manga Celebration where students could preview the new books and make book requests, sample Japanese and Korean snacks, and watch some fun how-to videos on drawing their own manga.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: III. Programming Skills
This blog post was written on behalf of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee by Sherry V. Neal, JD, MLIS. Sherry is the School Librarian at David T. Howard Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia.