Programming lessons

I am a few weeks shy of completing my MSIS degree. This past month has been full of ups and downs and yet, no matter how tough it has been, I am truly thankful, even for the bumps.

My final term comprises participating in a practicum, and taking a programming class for children and youth. I have spent my class time planning programs as if COVID-19 didn’t exist, at least for the first half; and am now working on a group project that involves designing a summer reading program pre-pandemic, and then transitioning that program to what it would like now. At times it has felt like building something with blocks, only to have someone come along and knock those blocks down; which, upon reflection, must be how all public librarians who do programs feel right now.

My original plan was so solid on paper: save my last term for my practicum, so I could apply all that learning and come up with fabulous programs and recommend relevant resources for the library I worked for. Instead, it has been more of a focus on collection development, inventory, themed displays, and very little interaction with young patrons. As my practicum library opened up, I did begin to see what it is like for a director with no staff try and run a library by herself. My assistance became more about helping in areas that she couldn’t keep up with, all because of the cleaning protocols and scheduling that became necessary due to restrictions and guidelines from the state. An area that we had both hoped I could help with, bringing back middle grade and high school students has not worked out. We tried reaching out to the school, but they were too busy trying to teach to add any networking with the library to their overfull schedules. I worked on a middle grade book discussion around Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, not surprisingly, not one person showed up in the Zoom room.

In spite of the setbacks I am grateful. I have learned so much about designing programs, not just to have fun, but to actually educate and ignite a love of learning and reading in children and young adults. Through the Programming Librarian and the LibraryThinkTank, I have begun to build a Zotero folder full of ideas to use in the future.

This week has been particularly fun as I have followed librarians from all over the country as they prepared for very different Halloweens. Learning how one library gave away over six hundred kits, and how many different librarians can rock Miss Frizzle made me realize just how adaptable and creative we can be. Even if we are still only doing curbside, or limiting the numbers of patrons in our libraries, it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. And there is this, I now have a middle grade book discussion ready to go for the future. Maybe I will even be able to host it in person next year.

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