When I first started working in youth services, SRP was treated as THE MOST IMPORTANT THING we did all year, almost to the point where it didn’t seem to matter what else went right or wrong the rest of the year as long as our SRP was a success. And to some extent, that was true–it was our busiest time of the year and we had the most patron interactions and highest program attendance. But it is not an exaggeration to say that we spent 10 months preparing for 2 months and for many years, it severely limited what else we had the time and energy to do for those other 10 months. And that’s the SRP merry-go-round, my friends. It’s a lovely ride but if you never get off, it might start to feel less like a ride and more like you’re being dragged around.
Let me be clear: this is NOT a condemnation of summer reading programs but rather it is an invitation to take what may be a necessary step back and place your SRP within the context of your work throughout the entire year. Think about this: if you weren’t spending as much time prepping for your SRP, what else would you have the time to do? Would accomplishing those non-SRP-related goals benefit your patrons year-round?
As every YS librarian will tell you, summer is an intense time but it’s not the only time that patrons are using your library. It’s not the only time when reading and literacy are important. It’s not the only time when librarians have the opportunity to create programming around a theme. At my library, summer remains our busiest time of the year but we now have a much more balanced approach to the entire year and by doing so, we have encouraged our patrons to use us year-round, which is kinda the point, right?
So, take a moment (or several) and ponder your current SRP–are you still enjoying the ride or is it time to get off the merry-go-round?