Friday, October 12, 2012

Yes, I'm a Children's Librarian

I've been a Children's Librarian for eight months now and I still get asked by family and friends if I just sit around and read books all day.

It's okay. I have no problem explaining what I do. I LOVE my job. And I LOVE even more that every day is different. Yes, I might have Preschool Story Time (PSST) every Tuesday night, but each program is different, the crafts are different and the entire day before the program is different than last Tuesday or the Tuesday before. LOVE IT.

I remember when I told Daddy I was going to grad school to become a children's librarian he laughed and said, "You mean you're going to pay all that money just to tell people 'Shhhh'?" Daddy was joking with me, but there are so many people out there who think that is all librarians do. The books magically appear on the shelves, the programs just happen and all the while my nose is in a book...except when I have to tell people to "Hush, you're in a library." ( don't really have to "hush" because libraries aren't what they used to be...grant it, you can't go screaming, running and answering your phone...please be respectful of others...but you are allowed to talk in the library....GASP.)

So, to answer a few (repeated) questions, I decided to blog about my life as a Children's Librarian.

Here's a little peek into what my yesterday looked like:

The day didn't start off as well as I had planned. When it's pitch black out, it's hard to get out of bed, and of course I hit the snooze a few too many times leaving me barely enough time to get dressed and out the door...forget about breakfast or coffee. But I did take my OJ and a protein bar on the road. On Thursdays I have to be to work by 8:30, and since I have a decent drive ahead of me I need to leave the house by 7:40 at the latest.

8:30-9:00 a.m. First thing when I get to work I check my email and phone messages. I also check to see what programs I have going on that day, and what my co-workers have going on at their branches.

Then I get started on a to-do list for the day...I am all about making lists. If not, I don't know what I'm doing or where I am. This helps me prepare for my upcoming programs and such.

Since yesterday was Thursday, I had Toddler Tales.

Toddler Tales is a program I give every Thursday for children (19-35 months) and their caregivers. And since it's in high demand, I offer the program at 10:00 and again at 11:00 (both fill up and I usually have a waiting list).

After I figured out what I was doing for the day, I had to ready the cart for the programs...making sure I had the right CD, book, puppets, props, registration sheet, script, etc.

9:00-10:00 a.m. The library opens at 9 am, so once the doors are unlocked I open my office door (if I'm going to be working in the back for a bit) or I start-up the computer at my desk out on the floor (in the children's department). Out on the floor is where I need to be, but occasionally I'll have work that I need to do in the back office...I'm often running back and forth.

On Thursdays I immediately head out to the floor because my toddlers will be in soon and it gets busy.

I don't need to start setting up the room until about 9:15, so I take 15 minutes to tidy up the children's department. I did not close the day before and knowing the teen librarian wasn't there either, I'm sure a lot happened between 5 and 8 p.m.

While tidying up I pull a few presidential-themed books because I'm planning to replace the Banned Book display with a Voting display.

Here's a snapshot of my office desk. Allow me to give you a tour.
Starting on the left top shelf I have a huge bag full of corks. Last month I needed corks for Crafty Kids and the library staff collected a ton for me. Next are various picture books, CDs, and props I pulled for upcoming Preschool Story Times (PSST) that fit into our chosen themes ("It's a Colorful World," "Just Say Boo!," and "Let's Celebrate Me"). Next I have a few crafts I'm working on for the Halloween program later this month, more books, and binders with past programs.

Starting on the actual desktop (clockwise) and right behind my coffee are a few DVDs, audio books, and random books that I need to replace in the upcoming book orders. There is a cigar box full of crayons that need to be de-labeled for a crayon program I'm giving in early November. Behind that box is a stack of juvenile lit I'm trying to make time to read. (Contrary to what people believe, librarians don't just sit around and read books all day. I wish. We actually have to read them on our own time, so give your librarian a break next time when she admits she hasn't read every book in the collection.) On top of those are my snacks for the day (grape tomatoes and a banana).

Next are some pamphlets with selected book lists that come in handy when parents or kids come in looking for Harry Potter read-alikes, or books on bullying or princesses. I have a couple copies of a book for my Turning Pages program that is in a few Mondays from now, a stack of CDs I use frequently in programs, a few shelves of important papers, and a binder full of past toddler programs. That is what I love about this field, you don't have to re-invent the wheel. Just find and pull things you like from everywhere to create your own. That red box up there is the making of a "Monster Box" craft for next week's Crafty Kids.

And now back to the work day. Once 9:15 hits I begin to set up the room for Toddler Tales. Because the space isn't that big, I can only fit 10 toddlers and their caregivers comfortably (some usually bring extra siblings and can get tight), which is why I have to limit registration. I also set up a table in the children's department which has the kids' name tags on it. They gather out there first (it's nice to let the toddlers socialize a little before we start), then I ring a bell or beat a drum and the kids march into the room.

This week's Toddler Tales theme was "Sounds and More!" Because it is Fire Safety Week and instead of PSST we did fire station visits, I wanted to tie-in fire stations with the toddler program.

10:00-10:30 a.m. Toddler Tales #1

We start with our two "good morning" songs and then I read Wheels on the Bus...a classic story full of sounds. Next we did a couple nursery rhymes, then I got out a box of hats and we made sounds to go with them. After, I did a "Five Firefighters" finger play, followed by a few rhymes and songs with bells. Next came "I'm a Little Teapot" and then it's "Musical Notes," where the kids grab a bunch of instruments and we make music while a song plays. Then it's "Parachute Time!" and, lastly, our good-bye song.

The entire program lasts about 25 minutes.

10:30-11:00 a.m. I spend the next half hour re-organizing and tidying the set-up, marking down statistics, shredding registration forms, making more copies of the program script, setting out the next group's name tags....

and bell cleaning. These end up in their mouths so I try to keep the germs to a minimum. On this particular day I also took a few calls from parents wanting to sign-up their child for Friday's fire station visit, and answered a few questions about another branch's Baby Time program.

11:00-11:30 a.m. Toddler Tales #2

I do the entire program all over again for the next group.

11:30-12:30 p.m. I record more stats, shred more forms (because of personal information), handle more sign-ups for next week's program, clean up the room and clear off my cart for whatever program I have next. I spend the remainder of that time cleaning the bells (again) and all of the musical instruments. After, I go through the department and tidy it up again because there was a lot of playing and socializing. (I'm also still answering emails and patrons' questions throughout the entire day.)

Once I finished cleaning, I went through our new books and pulled the ones marked with "4-12." New books can stay in the "new book" section for six months, which means all of the April books get pulled this month and placed onto the regular shelves. I do this once at the beginning of the month, and again half-way through (which was this day's pulling). Any that were checked out on the days I pulled, I catch when I start pulling next month's from the shelves.

12:30-12:50 p.m. 20-minute break. My break and lunch are never a specified time. I take them when I find the time. Some days I'm so busy I don't take a break and a few times I've eaten at my desk while working. But on this day I took an early break because I had a meeting/lunch with my co-workers later that day.

I snacked on a banana and some peanut butter( I cannot believe how sweet peanut butter is! I'm so used to my nut butter.) I finished off my morning Americano while reading this month's book club read, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
I made cookies for the meeting, but the batch made so many I was able to share with the entire staff. You can find that recipe here...Warning: I halved the sugar and they were still quite sweet. But soooooo addicting.

12:50-1:30 p.m. On my way back to the desk I picked up the day's deliveries. I got the new SLJ and some bread tags from a co-worker at another branch. I'm using the bread tags for a craft in my Snowman Workshop in December, and all of the youth services librarians pass around the SLJ, which gives us annotations on new books we might want to purchase. Once we go through it, we cross off our name and pass it along.

Knowing I'd be gone for the rest of the day, I tried to get as much done as possible. After going through the deliveries (which, shockingly, I didn't receive a single new book), I began working on the layout for next week's PSST.

Our PSST's (at the branches) are six-week sessions with a week or two break in between. This session, at my branch, the teen librarian and I decided to use one book in each story time. That way the kids are hearing at least one repetition each week (I do every Tuesday night PSST and we rotate Friday PSSTs.) This session we're doing Good Night Moon. I've tried to find different ways to share this story, and my plan for next week is to tell it through flannel board, using felt pieces. And the final week I'm using the DVD version of the story. I think that will be a fun treat for the kiddos.

Next, I grabbed some of the books off my top shelf and decided which books I would read and which ones I would set-up so the parents could check out. Next week's theme is "It's a Colorful World" and I think I'm going to read Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett and I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman.

During this time I took a call from a parent wanting to sign up her son for this Saturday's Super Science Saturday program. (I'm off this Saturday so it's my co-workers program...her theme is color. Next month it's my theme is space.)

I was in the middle of planning this PSST program when Jill, the Children's Librarian at two of the library's other branches, arrived to give me a tour of The Butler.

Once a month The Butler Institute of American Art and my library collaborate on an art program for kids ages 5-10. We share two stories coinciding with whatever art happens to be on display at that time and then they do a craft. Jill had been doing this program for a few years now, but since my branch is literally a minute down the road from the museum, it was decided I should take it over.

1:30-2:00 p.m. Jill gives me a tour of The Butler and I introduce myself to the staff....Tom, a very talkative, nice, older gentleman. The art for the next few months is landscaping, and the program is next Saturday, so over the next few days I will be in search of some coordinating picture books.

2:00-2:30 p.m. Lunch with the other branches Children's Librarians at Pizza Works. The best part of our meetings (wink-wink).

I had a garden calzone. yum.

2:30-4:30 p.m.Youth Services Branch Meeting.

Here is where we coordinate the themes for our PSSTs. Our themes are different than the library's main (Warren) location....that way we're not all fighting over the same books. At this meeting we planned our themes through December, and also discussed any additional programs we plan to do through February. (It can be difficult to decide what you want to do in February when it's still October, but we have to plan early because we need to get fliers and PR out on each program.) I'm planning some more Crafty Kids, giving Turning Pages one more try, showing some movies, and working on a waffle program.....among others. Among other topics discussed were programs that worked and what didn't, struggles and positives, next year's Summer Reading Program, and we planned our next meeting (in a few weeks...we like to get together) to coordinate the PSST themes through February.

Let me just say we have some awesome programming coming up at my library's branches!

4:30-5:00 p.m. We all headed back to my branch (since it's the closest to Pizza Works) to finish out the day, which was spent digging through supplies in the basement for our upcoming programs. I acquired some google eyes, paint, and a bunch of scrap paper. The other girls left with paintbrushes, cardboard, bulletin board supplies, and puppets.

And that was Thursday in a nutshell. (Sorry for such a long post.)

I hope to share more of my days with you all!

And to leave you with a smile:

Found on Pinterest

And I NEED this mug!

With Love and God Bless,

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