Work Smarter, Not Harder

Planning for summer programs can be a chore that even the most organized YA librarian dreads. However, with a few tips and change of attitude, summer program planning can be a breeze.

For some of us, myself included, we are fortunate to work in a library system with multiple branches with each branch having a YA librarian. Others work for smaller organizations which may consist of only one or two branches with a single librarian, who may or may not be a YA librarian, that is responsible for program planning and execution. Depending on the type of system you work for, there are several tips you can employ to make your summer program planning effortless.

First, having a good frame of mind and a positive outlook will go a long way. Keep in mind that many teens do not get the opportunity to go on vacation or attend summer camps therefore, your summer programs may be the only chance they get this summer to have fun with their peers. Make it exciting and worth their while! Your excitement about your programs will be infectious and the more you talk about them, this excitement will spread.

Secondly, take a look at your calendar and decide when you want to have programs. You want to keep in mind other events at your library. It might be a good idea to do a teen program at the same time that a children’s program is happening because a parent will be more likely to bring their teen for an event if they are already headed to the library for a toddler time. In addition, keep in mind what events are happening in your community. If there is a fun teencentric event happening on a specific day, then you will want to refrain from planning any programs that day. Always keep your eyes on the community calendar. You want to supplement community events, not compete with them.

Once you ave decided on your timeline for programs, it is time to plan. This is where it is important which type of organization you work for. If you work for an organization with multiple branches and YA librarians, set up a time to discuss program sharing ideas. A great way to share programs among branches is to create movable bins. Each YA librarian develops a program from the ground up. All of the materials for this program are placed in a bin to be shared among all of the branches. Each YA librarian chooses a date that this program will be executed at their branch. The bin will then rotate among the branches. Therefore, if a system has five branches with five YA librarians there will be five unique program bins created. Each branch now has five programs while the YA librarian only had to create one! share-all-the-things_h

Should a branch want more than the number of programs created by bins, then they can supplement programs with their own program ideas. However, this type of shared programming allows the YA librarian to put more time into creating fewer quality programs while still offering the same number of programs.

On the other hand, if you are a YA librarian who works for a smaller organization and shareable programming isn’t something you can execute, you can still work smarter. Take a look over past programs that you have done successfully at your branch. These programs can be easily repeated and billed as a series. In addition, determine which programs showed the most promise and may have had a larger turnout if it weren’t for some external problem such as weather, school conflicts, or other personal obligations. By taking the time to make some simple tweaks to these programs, you can use these programs as fresh, new programs that your teens will be happy to attend. Remember, you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time—sometimes, oldies are goodies!

Summer program planning doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Reach out to your fellow librarians. Borrow ideas from your past programs. Share and share like. The most important part about program planning isn’t whether or not you are sharing the newest or coolest idea that has been circulating the web or has been seen all over Pinterest. What matters is that you are excited about your programs and your teens want to attend them.

What ideas do you have for making summer program planning easy?



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