Lesson #1: Do not, I repeat, do not develop three new unique programs in one session without taking something else off your plate. I foolishly thought my overwhelming enthusiasm for early literacy would power me through developing and executing Infant Literacy, Pajama Storytime, and Play At Your Library. The good news: I’ve survived. The even better news: I’ve learned a ton about how to make these programs more efficient. The bad news: I’ve had the head-is-barely-above-water feeling for the past 6 weeks.
Lesson #2: Partnerships are critically important. Constant and effective communication is key. This takes time (see: Lesson #1). That being said, it’s so worth it. Not only am I finding how to not duplicate services, area organizations are opening up completely new and important demographics I’ve been trying to reach since I started in youth services.
Lesson #3: Outreach is completely different than programs in the library. Flexibility and the ability to read a room is so important. Just because YOU have a plan doesn’t mean that plan is the right one for the event. And always always always set up guidelines before beginning. The caregivers who attend my storytimes and programs at the library know they need to sing and play along. There are caregivers who have never attended a storytime. There are kids who have never attended a storytime. Talk everyone through it.
Lesson #4: Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help from your team. Ask for help from your manager. Ask for help from your personal learning network. My team laminated and cut so many song cards for caregivers. My manager did her best to keep me off the desk when I needed to be off the desk. My PLN helped me through so many programs either through encouragement or through answering my direct pleas for help. ASK FOR HELP.
Lesson #5: When going into planning for a new session, remember all of these lessons. Look to your department or organization strategic plan when deciding what to continue and what to cut.
Failing forward all over myself, y’all.