While most of us would say programming, the most public part of our work, is also the most fun, it also comes with challenges. In preparation for problem-solving in weeks ahead in class, our participants (from libraries both big and small) discussed some of the most challenging parts of programming work. Here's what they shared.
Uncertain attendance numbers:
- My greatest frustration would be when I plan something that I think is super awesome and then only a few kids show up. While granted, those kids do have fun, it always kind of deflates you a little when you think you have this great thing planned but can't get kids to come in and join the fun. Finding the balance of making sure you're still excited about whatever you're doing while also making sure that it's something that is appealing to kids too is really hard but really important because obviously you want to like what you're doing also or the kids would be able to tell you're a little "eh" on the whole thing.
- My greatest frustration is having to limit attendance for a program, and then have people sign up and not come for the program--even after a reminder call--when there are people who really wanted to come on the waiting list. Ugh!
Great advertising/low attendance:
- Effective Marketing, you put posters up, advertise in your newspaper column, post an event on Facebook and still people say they had no idea that a program was happening.
- I totally relate to your comment about people saying they didn't know about the program after you have worked on all that pr. Sometimes I think they would like us to come right to their door and take them by the hand and lead them to the library. :)
- My biggest frustration---getting parents to bring their children to the programs! I have a wonderful relationship with our Elementary School. I'm able to send flyers home with students about our programs. So that's TONS of people who find out about programs. Then when the time comes for the program to start, I either get *crickets* or four kids. How can I get the kids TO the program? It's a constant struggle.
Being the only librarian:
- I am the youth services department all by myself. This can be incredibly frustrating. I run short of time to keep up with literature for all ages and I find I can only do so many programs in a week or month to serve all my distinct age groups. I often look at what the libraries around me are doing and I think I should be doing more - and then I realize that they have 8 Children's Librarians and one is specifically for early literacy and one is specifically for outreach... I have to remind myself that I am only one person.
Being new and following a well loved librarian:
- Attendance has always been pretty steady here, maybe not high numbers, but consistent still. However, that was with the former person. I'm very nervous that because it's someone new that parents won't respond well. Or they won't even be open minded about the new way I want to do things. I want so badly for this to be perfect and the kids to have fun, but they have to accept me before they can do that.
- The previous librarian here was very well loved and my first day was filled with everyone I came into contact with telling me that she left a huge hole to fill and that everyone loved her so much and were very sad that she left. It didn't really set me up for feeling like I can conquer these new tasks! But I spoke with a good friend of mine and she reminded me that in a short time, people might be saying the same thing about me. Change is always hard for people to handle, but eventually they fall into the new routine.
- My greatest frustration is following in the footsteps of someone who had my position for 22 years. Everyone loved her and misses her dearly. While she created a lot of great programs and workshops for our youth services librarians across 16 libraries, I feel there is some room for improvement. I think with fresh eyes, I can help improve on what has been in place for many years and maybe take things to the next level. So one of my frustrations is rocking the boat if I change anything too drastically. I have been playing it safe this last 7 months pretty much running things as is. I have been tweaking things here and there but no major changes will happen until I am at least one full year in!
Parents who are uninvolved:
- For the most part parents who bring their children to the library are terrific but then there are those that are just so disconnected from their children and what is going on. They pay no attention to our handouts, our guidelines, tell their kids we aren't going to check out now...all the kind of actions and statements that frustrate me when dealing with them.
- parents that allow children to be disruptive or destructive and putting in the time, money and effort to plan a program with little attendance.
- The city has cut our programming budget going into the budget cycle for next year. Unfortunately, that means that starting July 1, we will no longer have any money at all for programming. That means I can't even buy glue, markers, or construction paper for story hour or other programs because that line item is gone. We are looking for grants that will help us fix this hole in our resources, but so far we haven't found much we can apply for. We can stretch what we already have for as long as possible, but it won't get us through the year. We'll need to get creative on free programming!
Challenges are always part of our work and how we work to solve them can make a big difference in our programming work. In coming weeks we'll be looking at ways to creatively approach these and other issues in our work. Stay tuned!.