One of the truly bright spots of youth librarianship is the sheer fun and creativity - the inventiveness - of our programming work with kids and families. Program series and "one-up" events for school-agers let us experiment with unprogramming, DIY, STEAM and lots more stuff we make up with joie de vivre, an eye for literacy and a celebration of our collections. Storytimes present an ever-flowing river of great new books to try, a fingerplay or way to deliver a literacy tip, new CDs to share, a new way to engage the kids. Over at Storytime Underground, a great example of this flow is their "Pimp My Storytime" post (go over and play now!).
But, we also know that, as good as our ideas are and as often as they work swell, the time comes when the program or format just isn't making it anymore - either for the patrons or for us. The trick is to know when to say when - when to make a major change in direction or end a limping program.
What are some of ways that you feel the winds of we-may-need-to-change?
- Attendance drops off.
- The format of your school-age programs hits even you as routine.
- You begin to dread your next storytime session.
- The preschoolers seem antsy ALL the time (no blaming barometric pressure or the full moon there).
- Trying new times, days, or scheduling patterns don't resurrect patron interest.
- The same small group of dedicated patrons come, but no one new ever does.
- Budget cuts loom and something has to go or be cut back.
At the same time, these program tweaks, changes and endings can allow an opening up of possibilities. New information, new ways of providing service or new ways to emphasize collections can be developed and enfolded into a re-working of a program or program schedule.
This reflection on worth is something that ideally is ongoing. When we talk about changing or ending something, we often find the opportunity to add something else - new outreach to kids in schools/daycare; a stealth program; clear the schedule to bring in a whole district-full of field trip visits (Kindergartners! 2nd Graders! 7th Graders!); time to write a grant for a way new initiative.
When we talk to our patrons about the changes, they are often happy to see the additions and changes. Sometimes we have a few who question why we are making a change or express unhappiness. We find that, as a staff- and at all service points, explaining why we are doing what we are doing often makes a difference in understanding.
Sometimes our fear of the unknown, fear of community reaction or our own sense of being wedded to a certain program we birthed and proudly watched grow prevent us from making the change or bringing the end to a program. But if we want to move forward, if we want to balance what we do so we can add a fresh program or start, it is OK to put a final period on a certain program.
How about you? Are you able to do guilt-free program ending/change?
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay