Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gimme a Break

There was lively discussion on how the class felt about building breaks into programming cycles. Some students take breaks ranging from two weeks to six weeks periodically throughout the year. Some follow the school calendar for breaks (more programs during no school times). Some feel that routine for families is important and seldom take breaks.

Many people mentioned that they get pushback from patrons when they either decide to take a break in a long series of programs like storytime OR if they decide to skip a year and not always offer the same "big" program (think Valentine Day party or Dr. Seuss Birthday or Gingerbread House Making). Still they felt breaks were worth the reaction for what they offered staff - a chance to catch a breather and plan; opportunities to attend conferences; time to do outreach; a chance to take vacation and unwind!

Many felt badly when families come in during a break expecting a storytime. One strong champion of breaks shared that they always put out some DIY crafts the first week into a storytime break and that helps to ease families through the no-storytime break. At our library we offer Book Bundles, a passive program like Smart Cookie Club and encourage families to get involved in 1000 Books Before Kindergarten.  Others explain to families that library staff need to spend some time learning themselves or serving other ages and that also helped the disappointed families.

One classmate reported that she took the idea of taking breaks in programming to her director and successfully convinced the director to support her incorporating them into their program planning.

Some comments::
  • Breaks give us time to recharge and reevaluate. It’s time to try new things: puppet practice, new feltboards, learning new technologies. In our community, if we offered programming for 0-5 year olds every single day we’re open, people would come. They are definitely disappointed when we take breaks, but I really do think they understand why staff needs the time. 
  • I think the break issue is related to the general issue of self-care vs. I-can-take-care-of-everyone-all-the-time martyrdom that many parents face (moms especially).
  • So I guess in all I try to include some breaks to regroup and try to get ahead on some planning. Being that a lot of us I think do this on our own I think we need it, especially if this isn't the only part of our job, if you need to weed books, purchase books, help out with the other parts of the library etc. you almost have to include a break somewhere.  
What is your break experience like?

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