Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Keep It Simple

Children’s librarians are some of the most creative people I have ever met. Some of the programs and storytime crafts I have seen over the years have really been impressive. But, all these great ideas take time to flesh out and put into a program. And sometimes, many times, we just don’t have the time.

That’s where the old phrase “keep it simple” came into play for me this past summer.

During the school year, we peppered our program schedule with what we viewed as “anyone can run” programs. Bingo days, play dough drop-ins, and Game Club, to name a few. These programs garnered some big attendance numbers. For a one-hour play dough drop-in, we had 51 people attend and they stayed the entire time!

As we began planning for summer programs, I realized my programmers were a bit burned out and the new ideas were just not flowing. That’s when I declared it a “Keep it Simple Summer!” Programmers could still do unique programs but many of our programs would be sessions that anyone could run. Bring out the play dough and bingo games!

Summer started with a giant bang and didn’t slow down until the end of July. We saw our patron visits back to pre-Covid numbers. In other words, we were non-stop busy! Needless to say, Keep it Simple Summer programs turned out to be just what we needed. We were able to host many all-age programs that our patrons really enjoyed. Now, I know that these programs do need some start-up funds. But what I like about them, besides the flexibility, is that the materials needed can be used over and over. I believe we are still using the same buckets of play dough we purchased at the beginning of fall 2022!

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that children’s library programs are incredibly fantastic and creative. But sometimes, keeping it simple is just what everyone needs. What are your go-to keep it simple programs?

Today’s blog post was written by Jen Abler, Head of Youth Services at the Oak Lawn Public Library in Illinois, on behalf of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She can be reached at This post addresses competency VII. Professionalism and Professional Development


  1. Suzi Wackerbarth

    OH YES!!! I adore keep it simple programs!!

  2. Kathy Smargiassi


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