So I've been at my new job in Outreach on the Storytime Bus for almost two months now, and it has been a bigger adjustment than I expected. The storytime bus serves approximately 30 different daycare classes, with 10-12 kids per group during each 2-week rotation. That's at least 300 different faces, and we only see each one twice a month. So in the beginning it was just an overwhelming blur of kids, yet I didn't feel like I got the chance to connect with any of them, and it all felt rushed. It's just such a very different environment than being in the library and interacting with families, parents, kids of all ages, and having more opportunity to interact with them one-on-one.
So at first I felt like I was just going through the motions, not hating it, but not enjoying it that much, either. I was feeling pretty homesick for my old department, but at least I still get to go back one afternoon a week and work the service desk in the children's department. This is very important to me as it allows a change of pace and more variety, and lets me keep up on all the middle-grade and teen lit and stay in practice with reader's advisory and customer service.
But after about 4 weeks, things started to turn around. I started feeling more comfortable with the schedule and not worrying so much about the time, and more comfortable with the volunteers. Then I was able to relax a bit and started enjoying it more, and realized I was starting to recognize several of the faces, even remembering a few names! I'll probably never learn them all, or even half of them, but I will do my best.
Another thing that hit home was when I was talking with my former supervisor about how I felt like they were all just a blur and I wasn't really connecting with them, and she reminded me that while I might not be able to remember all of them, they will remember me and the experience they have on the bus.
It is a learning experience and definitely an opportunity for professional and personal growth. I have a great deal of responsibility and independence. I do all the scheduling, select the themes, make sure all materials get to and from the bus, and I will be doing quite a bit of collection development, which I'm really looking forward to. I am the primary point of contact with the volunteers and will help with training new volunteers. It felt a little strange at first to be working so independently and only touch base with my manager once a week or by occasional e-mail, but I appreciate the amount of trust she has in me.
One thing I have learned is how to "wing it". In the past, I planned my storytimes far in advance, every detail, and tried to memorize the books so I wouldn't have to look at the pages. I could do this because I was only doing 2 storytimes a month and had the luxury of time. On the storytime bus you just can't do that, as you have to adapt to not only each group of kids that comes on, but to the volunteer that I'm working with that day. And I would get bored out of my mind if I did the exact same thing with each group, so we are always mixing it up. So now I am much more comfortable with much less planning and have learned to change and adapt on the fly.
The other major area of growth is learning I don't have to be in control of everything and everything doesn't have to be done my way. This is a little harder for me. I like to be in charge, not because I want to boss others around, but because I want to be sure things are done right (this is also a factor in my desire to plan ahead and plan every detail). But now I work with a different volunteer partner every day, and they have their own ideas about what they want to do, and they may not do things exactly the way I would. They may choose books I would never choose, or may not read them the way I would. And that's okay. I know that in my head, but I still have to work on actually *feeling* it. But I know this is a good thing, and I will get there. The good of the program and the kids we serve is what's important, and we need the volunteers. I couldn't do it all by myself, and it's good for the kids to see a variety of people care about them. So, as the song most of you are sick to death of hearing says, I am learning to "Let It Go" :)