“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” --Benjamin Franklin

If I were to give one piece of advice to a new children's librarian, it would be to learn to plan and prepare. I'm going to show you the system that finally got me organized. Maybe it will work for you too.

All of the librarians at my library have monthly planners with our names on them because we're fancy. (Fun fact: I'll be Anna Clark in 2013 due to a typo on the order sheet.) I write everything in my planner. 

This time of year (fall) is when I start working on the next year's calendar. Here's what goes in: 
A typical month
  • All days the library is closed for holidays
  • All half-days and school vacations (as soon as the public school district releases its calendar) so I know when to plan programs for days off and also so I am not blind-sided wondering why so many kids aren't in school today
  • Library paydays (marked with a $)
  • All meetings (department heads have a standing meeting every other week at my library), conferences, and staff training sessions
  • Vacation and time-off requests for myself and the other librarians
  • Programs in the children's and adult departments (I also write down the number of attendees on the calendar after the program is over so when I fill out the next year's calendar I know whether it should be repeated. This also serves as a backup for my Excel statistics.) I also write a note on a day about 7-10 days before a program to email out a press release to the newspaper. 
  • Monthly reminders to: add up the program attendees for the Board's report, update the New Books section on our Web site. 
  • Quarterly reminders (September, December, March, June) to: change the bulletin boards, create events flyers, post events to the website, etc. 
  • Flannel Friday dates (I write my FF posts in batches of 3-4 at a time and then write in my planner on the day they are scheduled to go up so I can make sure they are added to the roundup.)
  • I also put my personal appointments (doctor, dentist, hair, etc.) on my planner in case one of them runs late. My planner is usually open on my desk and people can check it if I'm MIA. I'm often asked to visit preschools and daycares outside of my normal work schedule so this helps me see instantly whether I am available to go. (My position is exempt so I don't have to worry about going over 40 hours in a week and getting paid overtime.) 
I put all of these in my Google Calendar which syncs to the calendar on my iPhone as well. So all the information is in 3 places, but I only have to put it in 2. My Google calendar has monthly reminders for things like paying my mortgage and giving the dog his heart worm medication. 

“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra


  1. I KNEW it! I knew our publicity was insane! I update the website, facebook, and our digital screen weekly. I divided the year up into sessions (winter, spring, summer, fall, holiday) and I make multiple sizes of poster for the whole session, individual flyers for each program series, and additional flyers for special programs within the series. Then there's press releases, weekly email to all staff about what's going on, my portions of the bi-monthly newsletter to write, and I make a trip to all the schools and other local places to drop off publicity every session. (I am the only youth services librarian). I KNEW I was crazy! I am so copying this to my director...

  2. Jennifer, I am exhausted by that list. Between quarterly flyers, Facebook, website updates, and press releases, I feel like you've got things covered. I'd say that word of mouth is always the best advertising anyway, but that people like to have a flyer for the fridge.

  3. The planning and preparing part is so important. This is a great reminder. ~ thanks

  4. I so agree with this one. You will never learn if you won't experience failure. So always do the planning when doing something and be prepared to whatever it takes.


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