January 10th was my one year anniversary of being a full time children’s librarian! This year has flown by so quickly, yet when I think back to my first day on the job, it seems like eons ago. While I did receive training in certain areas, a lot of what I’ve learned has been through trial and error. Here are some of the things that I have learned this past year:
- Everyone has their own way of doing storytime. My way is 70% excitement and movement and giggles, and 30% calmly reading out loud while children quietly sit and take it all in.
- There are some days when storytime just needs to end a little early. If it’s not working, then it’s not working.
- Some kids are just shy and will spend a whole year of storytime not participating. The day that that shy child starts participating will be a great achievement for both the child and yourself.
- Other kids will saunter into storytime, tell you their names, introduce you to their stuffed animals, participate in every way, and tell you every opinion they ever had on the book you’re reading. Knowing when to encourage this behavior and when to emphasize quiet listening is a skill gained only through many storytimes.
- It’s important to have storytime rules. It’s even more important that the adults in storytime are aware of these rules.
- Make sure your flannelboard is secure. You don’t want it falling on the children (like it did the very first time I tried my hand at a flannelboard…I’m happy to say that I haven’t had any mishaps since.)
- Have a backup song or fingerplay for those days that the kids are especially wiggly.
- The books you order for the library are not your books. Do not get too attached to them, because they will eventually get damaged, lost or not returned.
- Likewise, you are not buying for you, but for your community. You may hate Bob the Builder with a fiery passion, but if the kids in your community love him, you will buy Bob the Builder books.
- Sometimes a book will come out and it’ll be written very poorly and get lackluster reviews, but you know your patrons will love it so you end up buying it.
- Alternatively, sometimes a book will come out with raving reviews, but you know it’ll only sit on the shelf and collect dust in your library. That’s when you make the difficult decision over whether to buy it just to have or to pass it up.
- While weeding, clean the dirty books before you decide whether to keep them or get rid of them. Sometimes a good cleaning is all a book needs to make it look like new.
- Do not let salesmen guilt you into buying books you don’t need.
- Know your collection.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work out quite how you’d like it to, you’ll at least learn what to do next time.
- Having volunteers to help out is a great asset. Know which volunteers would be great at helping at programs.
- Like storytime, make sure everyone’s aware of the rules. And maybe where the bathrooms are too.
- Don’t be afraid to utilize community members and organizations. You’ll be surprised at how many would be willing to help out in some way, and it can be great outreach for both you and them.
- Always smile while on the desk. Make sure you know exactly what the patron is asking. If you’re having trouble finding something, do not be afraid to call up a coworker; sometimes two heads are better than one.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Work on the weaknesses.
- There are many ways to determine reading level of a book. No way is completely 100% accurate.
- Have a book display for the older kids and a book display for the younger kids. Mixing the two doesn’t work too well (can’t blame an older kid for not wanting to look at a display that has picture books mixed in with chapter books.)
I could probably go on and on, but those are some of the main things that I have learned during my first year. Over the next year, I hope to improve on:
- Coming up with and delegating projects for library assistants and volunteers.
- Reader’s advisory. I know my collection pretty well, but I’m trying to read more and there’s always room for improvement.
- Book reviews.
- Puffy paint. I hope to one day be as good as Miss Mary Liberry!
- Doing different types of programs for different ages.
- Outreach. I already work a lot with teachers and community members, but I’m sure there are outreach opportunities that I’m missing as well.
- Blogging. Both this blog and the one I keep for my library.