Saturday, March 22, 2014

De-Stressing Strategies to Achieve SLP Zen - Part 2

Every library looks for ways to make summer a little more fun and less frantic for kids - and for staff. The class shared alot of ways they have tinkered and toyed and thought about ways to make summer better:
  • We're implementing the concept of sessions into our SRP this year because there were so many people who weren't able to register for events because they were so crowded.  Basically, we will have a 5 week schedule of programming in June-July and then repeat that with another group of kids in July-Aug.  That cuts the load in half and allows parents to sign their kids up for the session that they won't be on vacation, involved in sports/swimming/activities, etc.  
  • About a year ago, someone gave me a tip that I'd never considered before, "Just because you've done the same rhyme or song a million times doesn't mean the kids in storytime have." I hadn't really thought about this before, and I love coming up with "new" material.  Since kids grow up and age out of programming fairly quickly, it is actually possible that the fact that you are bored with a performer doesn't mean your audience is bored.
  • This will be our 3rd year as a team putting together SRP. We've already learned a lot (Debrief immediately after the kickoff party and start a doc on the shared drive with ideas for next year! Don't even attempt to register kids at the party because the technology you've tested 9000 times will fail the day of the kickoff! Having 8 crafts that need to be executed with staff intervention is too many crafts for the size of our community! If there is money in the budget, hire outside performers especially for the first few weeks when the real crazy is in the air! Stop the multiple programs per week for teens as they won't show up! Put passive/DIY programs on the SRP chart!) and we will continue to try and get out of the way of ourselves in the future.  I think the number one thing I've learned since moving to youth services is the need to be flexible and improvise. SRP magnifies this times a thousand. Every program we plan now goes through the goals and objectives we've set up as a department. If it doesn't fit one of our goals? It doesn't happen for now. This has really helped our team which tends to be full of ideas, but still doesn't know its limitations.
  • Logging: When I started in my job, I was told that the most recent summer reading program had been a big disaster for staff, and many families. It took me a while to piece things together (no written record of how it was managed), but there were booklists, book logs and book reports, different requirements for different ages, points for various activities, paper and computer logs. I completely simplified things based on my previous library's SRP and things ran very smoothly. Best of all, no one at the circulation desk had to be involved at all - which is how they wanted it. I did get some push-back from a handful of parents who liked the old system because of the required written reports so my solution is to put a box at my desk into which kids can submit reviews. I pull one out each week and give an extra prize.
  • Last summer was my first expiernce with SRP, being the intern last summer, I helped with running a few of the programs, and by the end of the summer, I was exhausted, as well as the rest of the staff. This year is also my first year taking the driver seat, and I think we have done a really great job so far, by not only cutting back, but making our programs more user friendly. This year, we are not requriing registration. Open house style for all our programs, except for the reading logs and such. We have been doing that for our big programs so far this year, and we have had amazing turn outs, compared to having them register and needing to make that comnmitment. Also, a big thing this summer is we are going to do longer time frames and less number of programs, and concentrate on the quality. My director and I also have agreed to take turns the running the programs, not only to keep things fresh for the kids, but so we dont burn out. We are also very lucky because we have some moms in our town that love to run programs for us, so they take over that for us, and we have one less program to stress over. We also are moving our performers from our traditional Wed's at 1:30, to Tuesday nights at 7:30, right after softball so that not only can some kids come, but its an invitation to get more families to attend.
What do you do to make summer easier and more sane?

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