Surviving Summer Reading

So I know we’re all at various stages of our summer reading programs. Those of us whose students got out around Memorial Day are probably over a month in and can most likely see the end in sight. The rest of us, whose teens got out in late June, are still deeply mired in the wonderful thing that is summer reading. No matter where you are, you can make it!!

For me, this is my first serious summer reading. My last library, where I worked parttime in our teen room, summer reading was incredibly chill. No extra programs and a very basic set up for prizes and recording books (every 100 pages counted as a book. Every 1000 pages meant a prize, usually a donated free book). Now, I am not knocking this system and boy did it make summer reading a breeze. I remember last summer reading various twitter feeds and blogs going: why is everyone so stressed?

Karma bit me in the butt this summer. I started at my full time job in very late December and was in no way prepared for the level of summer reading that my current library does. I’m responsible for all programming and collection development for the tweens and teens at my library, ages 10 to 18. Back in the safety of April, I blithely agreed to 2 to 3 programs a week for our six week program. I am not regretting this now, I’m really not, but between planning and executing those while also doing a lot of desk coverage while the rest of our youth service’s staff doing programming for the 0 to 10 age (yes, the 10-year-olds hit a sweet spot and get double the programs), I’ve been incredibly brain dead. Take writing this the night before it’s due.

I’m entirely sure I’m not the only one. Probably not even the only one doing my first hardcore summer reading and quite possibly there are those of you who got jobs far more recently than me and were thrown headfirst into the insanity which is most libraries’ summer season. Some of you might even have further to go than me before it’s all over!

So enough about me. Here’s the important part:

You can do it! We can all do it! I have been so grateful for TSU this summer (and whole year) as I transition into working full time and running my own young adult program. You guys really are the absolute best and no one is allowed to tell you otherwise!

I don’t care if you’re a ten, twenty, thirty year veteran to summer reading and/or teen services or if you’re the newest of newbies, we’ve got this summer and next summer and the summer after and all the times in between. Don’t forget that we’re here for all your rants and successes and WTFs. Our Facebook is a few and open space to throw up your hands or do a happy dance (within reason, standard rules of polite conduct apply, obviously). If you had a successful program, shout it out to the world and don’t forget the details! If something failed utterly, shout that out too and let us know if you know why. Maybe we can help you figure out the source or a way to tweak it for next time.

If you aren’t getting many teens, do not give up hope. They are busy busy human beings, even if (and possibly because) most don’t have their drivers’ licenses. This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Maybe it’s a bad summer for whatever reason. Keep trying and they will slowly filter in. My attendance rate all school year was terrible, but they are starting to come to my summer programs. I’ve actually averaged 14 kids a program so far (3 programs) and actually gotten some high schoolers, which is a Big Deal. Sometimes it’s the little things that count the most – that connection with a teen or connections between new teens. If you’re getting tons of teens and are feeling overwhelmed by the teen-ness of it all, congrats! I hope they’re not getting too rowdy!

Above all, make sure you take yourself out to dinner or go to the beach on your day off or whatever you like to do to detox. Hang out with friends. Hang out by yourself with a blanket over your head (A/C optional) and read. Whatever makes you happy and gives you the chance you need to take a deep breath and be ready for another round.

Good luck, everyone! I’ll see you on Facebook!

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