Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Nontraditional Times for Traditional Programs

Libraries are a melting pot, a representation of a beautifully diverse society. As we progress further into the 21st Century, this fact, this statement, is becoming more and more understood. A focus, and a very important one, has been put on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in collections and spaces. However, do we take EDI components and take them into our library programs–namely the time and topic of our programs?

What does this look like? Well, it means getting creative. It means thinking outside of the box. To be honest, I never really thought of programs outside of the 9 to 5 time frame until I became a working mom. I work until 6 PM most nights; it is impossible to take my daughter to what we view as a traditional storytime. I know I’m not just the only person this applies to. Many of your library patrons are in this same boat. So what do we do? 

  • Offer a “Pajama Storytime.” The library where I work, the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho, does this weekly. From 7 to 7:30 PM, families come for a storytime–just as fun as the ones offered during daytime hours–and they are encouraged to wear their pajamas. The storyteller does too! (Come on, what librarian would not jump at the chance to wear comfy pajamas and slippers at work.) This storytime has many families who have shared their appreciation for something in the evening. One or both parents work and this is the only option for them.
  • Offer programs on the weekends. Families are always itching for something to do on the weekends–especially free things. So get them into the library! One of my colleagues, Nikki Gillihan, has made it her mission to get families into the library on Saturdays. She offers a variety of programs: Spanish/English storytime and Silly Song and Dance. Both of these programs had high interest by families who could not make times during the week. By consistently offering an option every week, Nikki has built up a regular audience. They come regardless of the program. They come for their time of connection, learning, and fun! 

These two nontraditional ways of thinking don’t seem fully revolutionary but sadly, in my community, not many libraries do them (especially evening storytimes.) If we truly want to be advocates of EDI, I think this needs to change. And it’s easy! Here is encouragement that you can do it too! Remember: it’s okay if your community has different needs than mine. Perhaps you are in a community that needs storytimes in multiple languages. Perhaps you live near individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and you need ASL programming. You know your community best. Ask them what they need. They will tell you!

Gabrielle (Gabby) Stoller is the Youth Services Librarian at the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho. She is a proud graduate of both Boise State University (BA in Psychology and Family Studies) and Emporia State University (Masters in Library Sciences). Gabby is a member of ALSC’s Library Service to Underserved Children and their Caregivers. 

One comment

  1. Maria

    Thank you for sharing this important message, Gabby!

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