Putting on Our Big SLP Pants

This is the season of summer library program workshops around the country. Many librarians are beginning to book performers and put the pieces together for the programs and actual summer reading program structure.

I have wondered on this blog before if there is an over-emphasis on the summer library program in our preparation time and system CE offerings. With all the many issues we contend with, is it worth one. whole. workshop. annually (the only youth-oriented workshop some systems offer) to delve into what is an expected annual happening at libraries of every size?

My hard-working colleagues who are system level planners sometimes share my ambivalence. But they are responding to real-world requests from their system member libraries to always have a SLP-oriented workshop.

Is there any way to change this conversation at the grass-roots level among librarians? Is there a way - in our linked and networked world - to do an annual webinar shared by many systems with supporting documentation or blog posts or a shared wiki or space for ideas? In-person workshops could then be focused on other topics of interest/need for youth librarians.

Perhaps I'm dreaming and the demand for SLP workshop is inexorable and inevitable. If it can't be changed, can it at least model what more system workshops are starting to do - have only an hour or two devoted to SLP and the rest to other vital subjects we youth folks need more information or ideas on?

Subjects focusing on:
  • Tween programs
  • Outreach strategies to schools during the school year
  • Creative tours
  • Introducing digital content into programs/rooms
  • Non-traditional programming models (stealth/DIY/unprogramming)
  • Collection development tips
  • Managing patron behaviors in youth areas
  • Programming for special populations
  • Teen programs
  • Collaboration models both within the library and out in the community
  • Strategic program planning
  • Advocacy for youth services
  • Preschool programming beyond storyime
  • Incorporating STEAM/STEM
  • Any of three dozen issues I see questions about on listservs, Twitter, Facebook groups
Getting our summer library work into perspective shouldn't be difficult. I feel there is so much to learn and share that goes beyond what is essentially dressing up our summer efforts in a new thematic pair of pants each summer.

Can we get into those big SLP pants and see beyond these short eight weeks? What do you think?

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay


  1. Here's a silly question: Why aren't those things already part of the SLP workshop? If you have a bunch of libraries clamoring especially for a SLP workshop, why not make a training day with a couple of different subjects that relate to the SLP, BUT are also helpful year-round? SLP is only another type of programming, after all. Last year, I decided to add summer programs along with our big program (because I'm crazy) that were geared toward our teens, and this year I plan on adding some for preschoolers because this is the time of year when I get patrons asking for things! This is the busy time of the year, and so it's a great time to shake things up a bit! I'm just thinking that if there's a bunch of librarians looking for SLP workshops and others who are bored with them, then maybe it's time to shake things up a bit? Does that make sense?

  2. Absolutely. I completely agree with you. I think sometimes planners and librarians get so lost in the usual (I've been going to and presenting these SLP workshops for over 30 years) that the thought of really changing up and shaking things up doesn't even occur. I think change can only come from librarians expressing themselves to their system workshop-planning folks.

  3. You're right, my friend!

  4. I know a lot of people request SRP workshops. I do wonder why as most of us change only minor details about ours every year, for many reasons. It's one of my least favorite topics as far as professional development goes.

  5. Just feels like the world of youth librarianship is so big and our issues diverse - do we HAVE to do this every year? It makes in-person workshops less relevant. And in the 21st century we can't come up with a way to streamline this into a webinar that we re-run ever year and make the paperplate craft change from ladybug to octopus to worm to planet to fit the theme for those who need thematic ideas?

  6. I love this post! Actually it seems that the summer is my slowest time because I'm not worrying about all my outreach and schools! Haha.

  7. I agree completely, Marge. I love doing continuing education and workshops, but feel like I get the same offerings across my desk each time, including SRP stuff. I just blogged about how your post has affected my thinking on SRP planning, and how we don't have to invent the wheel every summer!

  8. Thanks Michelle. I think part of the problem is we get so bogged down "we should's" and "we better's" and our work life becomes untenable. But that's ok, we're children's librarians. We need far more conversations like on your great blog post!