To Blog or Not To Blog

To Blog

You may have noticed that my blogging has slowed down. And, considering that I was never a frequent blogger in the first place, that’s sort of saying something.

I started this blog back in 2011, when I was still a brand new children’s librarian. Back then, blogging was easy. Storytime was a large part of my job (I was doing 3 different storytimes a week), and I had enough time to blog at work. Therefore, this blog was predominantly about storytime, and I was able to publish a few posts a month. Easy peasy.

When I moved to my current position 3 years ago, I didn’t know what to do with the blog. I didn’t have as many storytime plans to post (I basically do 1 storytime a month most months), and while I was doing lots of other fun things, those posts weren’t getting as many hits as my storytime posts. I also couldn’t blog at work anymore (unless it was on my break), so I found myself scrambling to write posts at home.

But a high-quality blog takes time and effort, and work/life balance when you work full time is both tricky and very important. Three years ago, I spent a lot of my outside of work time working on work-related stuff (blogging, making flannelboards, catching up on professional blog reading). I enjoyed (and still enjoy) doing all of those things but, as the months went on, I started to feel bogged down by how much of my life was centered around work and work-related stuff. So I started to cut back on how much work I do at home.

As I started cutting back on doing work-related stuff at home, I started filling my personal time with other activities. I exercise regularly. I meal plan. I volunteer. I’m studying Spanish. I started a book club with my three besties (which kind of ties in with work, except that we don’t read children’s books). And do you know what I’ve found? By having a better work/life balance, I am actually happier and more productive when I’m at work!

Several months ago, when it looked like I would be moving from salaried to hourly, I seriously considered giving up the blog all together. But the law didn’t go through, and it looks like I’ll remain salaried for the foreseeable future. And, honestly, I don’t think I could give up the blog. Maybe someday. But not right now. I love it too much, and I think it’s important that we keep ideas and information flowing in the profession.

I can’t promise that I’ll blog regularly. Personal time is too precious, and in addition to all of the things that I’ve mentioned before, I’m also house hunting this year. But I promise I’ll try not to leave you hanging. And maybe someday, as I continue to figure out this work/life balance thing, I’ll find a system that allows me to consistently blog at least once (maybe twice?) a month. Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Resolve to Rock! — 2016

Resolve-to-Rock-meme-image-300x300

Woohoo! It is January, which means it’s time to Resolve to Rock!

I missed last year’s RtoR, but my unofficial goal for 2015 was to have a better work/life balance. Which I mostly accomplished, with the exception of how I really need to get better at NOT checking my work e-mail on my days off. But. You know. Baby steps.

So, for this year’s RtoR, instead of listing goals or resolutions, I’m going to ask and answer some questions that I found on a blog that I literally just stumbled upon:

What do I want my year to be?

Enthusiastic.

I want to do everything I can to get the general public enthusiastic about my library in particular and libraries in general. This is a tough one because, for every library-supporter, there are at least 2 more who feel the library’s not necessary. But I will talk up our services as much as possible. I will greet people who come into paradise the library and enthusiastically help them. I will tell parents about our custom collections. I will tell random people about our online resources. I will tell kids about our Minecraft program and Lego Club and the fact that they can check out robots if they really want.

I want to remind myself and my coworkers to be enthusiastic about what we do. Which, honestly, this is an easier one because we are a pretty giddy and supportive and creative bunch in general. But I think we also all have moments where we’re feeling stressed or nervous over a program or service because it’s SO MUCH WORK, or maybe we feel bummed about something that didn’t turn out how we hoped. But we are awesome, and our library is awesome, and our career is awesome, and we all know this, but I will remind anyone who forgets it.

I want to continue to be enthusiastic about books! Last year was such a good reading year for me, and while I’m currently not all that enthused about the reading prospects for this year, I want to prove myself wrong by reading widely.

What do I want more of?

Books! Pop-up and passive programs! Makerspace stuff for kids! New ideas! New collaborations! Smiles! Professional development! Blog posts! Reference transactions! Interactive, motion-based storytimes! Technology! Remembering to bring healthy snacks to work, because I need to eat, damnit, and Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t qualify as real food! Minecraft kids filling me in on what happened in Minecraft on days when I don’t do Minecraft! Book promotion! Apps! Twitter! Flannelboards! Conferences! Dancing! Leadership opportunities! Mellow mornings and afternoons! Busy mornings and afternoons! Art! Music! Etc!

What do I want less of?

Stress. Anxiety. Feeling unsure of oneself. Miscommunication. Forgetting exactly how awesome librarianship is. Cheap book bindings.

What are the three things I want to accomplish?

  1. Summer Reading.
    I’m on the committee this year, and it’s been fun so far. I want it to continue to be fun and to continue to be a great learning experience, and I ultimately want the Summer Reading Program to be a success. (Don’t we all?)
  2. Start New Projects.
    I’m being purposely vague here, but I’m in the planning stage of a few projects that I hope to implement when Summer Reading is over. It’s very exciting, and I hope I’m able to get them off the ground and maintain them!
  3. Share More Ideas on This Ol’ Blog
    One of my goals last year was to blog more, and I kind of failed at that? Maybe? I don’t know. I didn’t exactly count my blog posts. This is a tricky goal because, while I love blogging, I don’t always have time for it. But I really want to blog! And I want to share not just what I’m doing, but what my coworkers are doing, because, seriously, I work with some really awesome people.

How do I want the year to feel?

Empowering and comforting. Like a big group hug from all your favorite people.

I think I can accomplish this by: focusing on the good, learning from the bad, reminding people (and myself) that they are awesome, maintaining a work/life balance because sometimes I just need to forget about work and take a bubble bath, you know?

How do I want to arrive at the beginning of 2017?

Rocked gif

woo hoo

Blogging Goals

Hello 2015Picture credit:  R@cHeLIE on WeHeartIt

Normally I’m not one for New Years Resolutions.  I learned at an early age that the hype of the new year wears off around the middle of January and resolutions are usually forgotten by then too.  Still, I’m a goal-oriented person in general, and I feel like making some blogging goals for 2015, so here we go!  (Plus it’ll be fun to see how many of these I accomplish.)

1.  Blog more often.

I have always been a sporadic blogger.  There have been times (usually in the winter) where I would post fairly regularly, but most months I’m lucky to get one post up.  While I realize that this is fine — I don’t need to blog — I would really like to start blogging more because I love blogging professionally.  I think sharing ideas and being a part of the broader conversation is one of the most rewarding things we can do as far as professional development goes, and I want to continue to partake in it.

2.  Continue A Few of My Favorite Themes Series

A Few of My Favorite Themes is a blog series that I started in 2014 in which I list my favorite books, rhymes, and activities for each of my favorite storytime themes.  It was my way to keep storytime on this blog, seeing as I don’t do storytime as often in my current position.  And, honestly, I really like this series!  Not only does it give me the chance to talk about my favorite storytime themes, but it also gives me the chance to highlight other peoples’ work that I find amazing!  However, these posts are time consuming to put together, which is why I haven’t posted many of them.  For my last Favorite Theme post, Apples, I did away with all the PDFs and linked to stuff instead, which was a little easier/faster.  So I’m hoping to get a few more of these posts up this year (but it probably won’t be many).

3.  Have a week dedicated to Theme-less Storytimes

I am still doing theme-less storytimes.  I know it’s not for everyone, but I would like to spend a week talking about it.  This is mostly just to force myself to examine it critically and to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not working.  My plans for this week are still very nebulous but will probably include a post about the pros and cons, a few theme-less storytime plans, and maybe even some discussion or stats or something.  Who knows.

4.  Post more picture book reviews!

I have fallen incredibly far behind in keeping track of new picture books that come out, and that is appalling!  The Perfect for Storytime series that I did at the beginning of 2014 was well received, and I’d like to continue it.  It probably won’t be called Perfect for Storytime anymore because I’d want to also highlight great books that may not be perfect for storytime, but I need to start paying attention to picture books again, otherwise I’ll be reading the same picture books over and over in storytime.

5.  Blog on other topics.

When I started this blog, it was largely a storytime blog because that was the bulk of what I did (after ordering books).  While I still love storytime and want to keep blogging about it (hell, three out of five of my goals for 2015 are storytime related), I also want to focus on other things:  technology, apps, pop-up programming, reader’s advisory, etc.  I know that most people who come to my blog do so for storytime ideas (and to figure out how to make a Readbox display, which is oddly one of the most popular posts on this blog), but I hope you all will appreciate reading about other things too.