A Day (or Two) in the Life of a Children’s Librarian

I always get a good giggle when someone I don’t know very well says to me, “Oh, you’re a children’s librarian? How sweet. That’s a pretty sedentary job, isn’t it?”  [Yes, doctors in particular like to say that to me, as they assess how active I am.]   Or, “You’re a children’s librarian?  That must be such a nice quiet job!”  Or, “It must be nice to read books all day!”

Before I go any further with this post, let me make it abundantly clear that I would hate to have a job that was sedentary or quiet or even a job where I got to read books all day.  I actually love the frenetic craziness of my work world, and I love the absolute unpredictability of each work day.  

Having said that, there are certain weeks like this one where even I cannot believe how busy I am.  So, for the sake of posterity, and for the sake of busy children’s librarians everywhere, here is a glimpse of this week at my job…

Yesterday (Monday) started off with discovering that the group who used the large program room on Saturday night had left all the chairs out, and also had forgotten to sweep and get rid of the trash (we have a big mouse problem in our building – old buildings in the country tend to be that way!). So before I could set up for storytime I had to stack fifty chairs in short order, sweep the floor, and ask Pete (former Trustee and current amazing volunteer) if he could take down and put away the speakers. Thank goodness Pete was there to do that, since I actually don’t know how to maneuver those heavy speakers down off their stands.

Then, fifteen minutes later (I stack chairs and clean quickly!), I set up for storytime and ran an absolutely lovely Mother Goose on the Loose program for a wonderful group of dedicated attendees. There is no better way to start a Monday, in my opinion, than to sing to and interact with a group of the youngest children and their caregivers – it is completely soul-affirming and rejuvenating.

Once storytime was over, I looked at the library website on my phone to see whether I could set up for my Tuesday afternoon program, which would be a lovely and efficient treat, since our program room is heavily used, and also very far away from the children’s room, so that it is hard for me to get up there to prep the room for my programs. It looked hopeful, so I went downstairs to check with my director about the state of the calendar.

She checked, and indeed it was hopeful: the R—- group had cancelled their Monday night room reservation, which left only the W—- book group with a Tuesday noontime reservation. We agreed that I could set up most of the room for my program, and just leave three tables and twelve chairs set up for the book group on the side with a view of the pond.

Back upstairs to unstack those fifty chairs, and then to arrange all eighty-nine chairs in a configuration that worked for the book group and for me. My Tuesday program (a presentation on Birds of Prey) also needs three six-foot tables, so I brought those out and arranged them. Done!

Back downstairs, where I first put away the Mother Goose accoutrements and then finalized planning for the 1:30 Art & Stories for 4’s & 5’s. Feltboard story: Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (felt pieces by me), check. Musical instruments: mini maracas, check. Music to play: Jim Gill’s Sneezing Song album, check. Pre-read the books for the day, including one of my absolute favorites, A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, check. Set up the art project (Chalk Dip from MaryAnn Kohl’s Preschool Art), check. Then into the story room to pull out the small art tables, the feltboard easel, and the carpet pieces, check.

[ As you can see, by midday I haven’t had a sedentary moment yet! 😉 ]

Just as I sat down to check email, my boss called down to tell me that the book group had cancelled for tomorrow, and that she and one of the reference librarians were going up to the program room to take away the tables and reestablish the auditorium style seating that I would need on Tuesday. I said, “I’ll be right there to help you!” and bounced up two flights of stairs (but really the equivalent of four flights) and together the three of us finished setting up the room for my Tuesday program. Teamwork!

Then back downstairs to catch my breath and finally check my email at 1:00. Several emails needed my attention, so I quickly typed replies before the four- and five-year-olds arrived for storytime.

Storytime was wonderful – this group is so much fun to be with, so full of positive energy and giggles and creativity. We all loved the stories, and the mini maracas were a huge hit. And the feltboard story went over SO well that I realized that I should really make some additional felt stories for this group while I’m on break from school (over the years I’ve made at least fifty felt stories, but for my own sanity it’s time for some new ones!).

After cleaning up from storytime, it was time to swap out the small art tables for the large six-foot full height tables for the 3:30 GraviTrax program. Feltboard safely stowed away, chairs tucked into the closet, then I brought out the GraviTrax sets and set up the pieces on the tables so that the two teams would have equal “special” pieces and that the common building pieces would be on the middle table accessible to both teams. [Find out more about GraviTrax here.]

This brought me to 2:45…and I realized that I could actually have a bite to eat if I was quick. So off to the staff room I went, and got to chat with the electricians who are upgrading our lighting while I quickly ate my yogurt and banana. There were some tempting cookies on the table, and of course I took one, and S—-, the head electrician, said “Hey, no eating cookies!” To which I replied, with a wink, “I think I’ve earned it!”

By 3:15 my highschool senior volunteers for the GraviTrax program had arrived, which was great because it gave me time to give the new volunteer an overview of how the program works. It’s wonderful having such mature, awesome volunteers in whom I have complete and total trust! GraviTrax was a hit, as it always is, and the volunteers and I were hard-pressed to get the kids to finish up their construction by 4:30. (If you haven’t had the chance to witness GraviTrax in action, it is an amazing way for kids to learn about force and motion and gravity while having a really, really fun time.)

Then it was time to put away all the GraviTrax pieces, and to put away the six-foot tables and bring back out the art tables, and to set the story room up for the 6:30 evening program, a Polar Express Storytime run by the senior Girl Scout troop.

In the midst of this cleanup, my boss came downstairs with a woeful, apologetic look on her face, and with the bad news that the R—- group who had cancelled their Monday night reservation for the large program room hadn’t actually meant to cancel, and that they were coming after all…which means that I need to go in early this morning to set up the large program room for the afternoon Birds of Prey program before the first of four 5th grade classes arrives at 10:00 today for their research instruction.

Having reminded myself of that, I think I’d best continue this “day in the life” post sometime in the future, and get myself to work right now to set up for today, Tuesday! 🙂

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