Friday, August 11, 2017

No Rest For The Weary - Trying to Recharge After the Bittersweet Ending to a Busy Summer

The last three months have been a whirlwind! First, I took a very intense 3-week class on multicultural youth literature in May that was very worthwhile, but also a very grueling pace. Then, as soon as that was over, it was time for summer. For those who work in schools, summer means a break, but for those of us who work in public libraries, that is the busiest time of the year! 

First, when I have breaks from my MLIS program, I try to read and review as many books as possible, then there's distributing summer reading logs to all the daycares and preschools I visit, and explaining how the program works. And of course I have my usual gig of going around to all these places and doing multiple storytimes for their preschool-aged kids 3-4 days a week, but the facilities are more disorganized and the kids are less attentive during the summer because there is less structure and often changes in staffing for the summer.

STEAM, STEM programs, DNA extraction for kidsThis year I also had the opportunity to do a number of school-aged STEAM programs, which was great! For one, I tend to get a little bored doing the same thing all the time, so I love it when I have an opportunity to do something other than preschool storytime (even though that is my favorite thing to do), and expand my repertoire. For another, my background is actually in science education and research, so I *really* love getting the chance to do science programs. 

But, as a part-time employee, it was very challenging to find the time to plan, prepare, and present these extra programs! I am allowed to go a little over my usual hours, but I had to be careful not to go over by too much. I've lost count, but I think I did 8-10 STEAM programs over the summer, with four different themes: Illusions and Effects Using Mirrors, DoodleBots, DNA Extraction, and Paper Circuits. Of course I had help prepping and conducting the programs, but I took on most of the planning and design, being the resident science nerd.

Then at the end of the summer is the part I have a love-hate relationship with: delivering summer reading program prize books to all the kids at the daycares I serve. I LOVE seeing how excited the kids are when they realize they are getting a book to keep, and watching their faces light up when the find just the right one. It's funny to see how some are so decisive, and walk right up and grab a book and others will take forever, walk away with a book, then have second thoughts and put it back and take another. 

While this part is so gratifying, it is also physically a lot of work, selecting the books, loading bins into the car, taking them in to the daycares, bringing back the leftovers, etc. Since we want them to have plenty to choose from to accomodate all reading levels and interests, we bring a lot of books. Plus it's hot and humid and miserable outside, it is inevitably raining half the time, and the scheduling is always difficult, too. So it gets to be somewhat of an ordeal, with upwards of 200-300 kids at our larger facilities, and 50 at the smallest. 

So I was glad when I finally made my last delivery this week, but it was bittersweet. There was a little boy at this daycare that was the most excited of any kid I've seen about getting a book of his own last year, and asked me several times after that in storytime if I had more books to give them that day. He has also asked to read Froggy books at storytime, so I made sure to have three different Froggy books in the selection I brought to his class, only to find out when I got there that he had moved. The teacher said he was supposed to come visit one last time to say goodbye, so I gave her a couple of them to give him if he did. I was so sad that I missed him.

That was on Monday morning, marking the end of summer reading duties, which gave me a week to to try to recoup before next week when my next MLIS class starts. It turned out to be a rough week for personal reasons, so I'm feeling more rundown rather than recharged! Also, the last two weeks marked the last time I would see the kids that were moving on to kindergarten, which is always sad after knowing them for 2-3 years. That's one of the real disadvantages to doing outreach storytimes. If you work in the library, then when the kids outgrow storytime you still get to occasionally see them when they come in to get books and for summer programs, but in outreach, once they move on I generally don't see them again.

Hopefully this weekend will prove to be a peaceful, relaxing one! Looking forward to vacation in October, though I will still have schoolwork to do.

How do you recharge after the summer if you aren't able to take vacation right away?

Oh, and I hear you're giving away eclipse glasses.... 😎 😂 😭

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