So, without futher ado, here are 5 things I've learned in the past 5 years.
1. When in doubt, make 'em laugh. This is a sentiment best summarized by this scene from Singin' in the Rain. You can also learn a lot from this scene about committing fully to a performance. IMDB reports: The number was so physically taxing that O'Connor, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed (or may have been hospitalized, depending on the source) for a week after its completion, suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns. Unfortunately, an accident ruined all of the initial footage, so after a brief rest, O'Connor, ever the professional, agreed to do the difficult number all over again. Can you imagine? I thought doing storytime in my third trimester was difficult. Incidentally, IMDB has a somewhat amusing (if too inappropriate for me to blog here) story regarding Cyd Charisse's dance costume that you may want to read.
2. No matter how many staff members proofread your flyers before printing, everyone will miss the program listing with the wrong day of the week. Other fun times in program marketing include:
- Answering a phone call regarding whether storytime is at 11 a.m. or p.m.
- Accidentally writing that sewing program participants will be making their own brick creations. (Another mistake no one caught until it was too late!)
4. Don't take the complaints to heart. Extract the constructive criticism and see if you can apply that. Not all complaints are reasonable. For example, people might complain that the library isn't open 24 hours (but would never want to pay the taxes to fund those hours) or is closed on Christmas. Also someone questioning a staff member on a procedure or policy is not a complaint. I had someone ask me if the prizes for our carnival tended to be the cheap, plastic stuff and I said yes. She said that her family wouldn't attend as they already had way too much of that stuff. I don't consider that a complaint as she was very nice about it. I don't want a house full of plastic crap either.
5. Hell is trying to walk patrons through their first use of OverDrive on the phone. Once they've gotten the hang of it, they really seem to like OverDrive, but the first time is a nightmare.
I'm curious, dear readers. How long have you been in youth services? And what have you learned in that time? What advice would you give a new librarian just starting out.
*Have I ever mentioned that I met my husband at storytime? He used to bring his nephew to storytime at my old library.