I've been thinking alot lately about how to keep a balance in our programs. Our public asks for more although they are not always consistent in their attendance. Sometimes it seems like patrons like the thought of their library having lots of programs available a little bit more than actually coming to them.
Our staffers are dedicated and want to do the very best they can for the kids. They work hard to manage a variety of programs for multiple ages - and always, with their care and talent, they offer a wonderful product that promotes literacy, the library and reading.
We know that consistency with children is important. But does that necessitate doing storytime weekly throughout the year? How long should we plan for an afterschool workshop series - three weeks? Six weeks? Twelve weeks? Can we honor our public and staff at the same time?
I believe we can. Building natural breaks into our program cycles gives everyone a breather - staffers can re-charge or turn their creative energy to planning and doing projects; dreaming up new programs or better ways to reach our public or trying that blue-sky idea they've read about another library doing. Breaks in storytimes or program series allow shortie pop-up programs that don't fit into the pattern to be tried and - if successful - added into our program repetoire. Breaks also allow us an opportunity to come up with "out-of-the-box" ideas to encourage families to return to the library without programs as the lure.
Breaks in programming also allow staffers the opportunity to attend conferences, workshops and get out to uncover ways to enhance their skills and work with kids. Breaks are vital to allow staff a mental breather -time for vacation, reflection, thoughtfulness and planning. I believe our patrons won't abondon us during 4, 6 and 8 week breaks. And I also believe the resulting recharge time for staff will create enhanced programs for our kids.