It’s the holiday season, and Santa Claus is comin’ to town…

Unless he’s not. For many people in my community, Santa doesn’t stop to visit their families. There’s a wide range of religious and personal beliefs about Christmas (even some Christian sects don’t celebrate it as a religious holiday).  Yet no matter where one looks in our community it would seem that everyone is celebrating.

If you’re a librarian, should it matter to you that Christmas isn’t celebrated by some your patrons or students? Some in our profession say that Christmas is an American holiday, so decorating for it or emphasizing it in libraries is not a big deal. Others are comfortable with book displays, but nothing beyond that.

When I was a public librarian, I did a few programs for teens that were holiday-related, like Gingerbread House Construction (really just an excuse to eat candy!) and Holiday Cookie Decorating (another excuse to eat candy). We also featured books on display that had to do with Christmas cooking, decorating, and fiction. There usually wasn’t any coordinated effort to decorate the branch for Christmas.  Occasionally a patron or staff member would bring by a poinsettia plant and it would sit on the reference desk.

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As you might recall from my blog post last month, I recently switched gears in my professional life. After seven years of working with teens in public libraries, I am now an elementary school librarian in a large, urban public school.’  I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about how the two jobs intersect. This month I’m discussing programming and how it relates to what I do in my current job.

When I was a teen services librarian, I had a love/hate relationship with programming. The thrilling highs when tons of happy faces exited the library after a successful venture didn’t always make up for the crushing lows when nobody showed up for the program I’d spent time and taxpayer dollars on.

Still, I had supportive management who let me try lots of different things and tailor my programming to whatever teens were asking for.’  When I sat down to figure out what I’d be offering in the coming months, I was only bound by my own imagination and what I knew would appeal to teens.’  Whatever worked I was free to continue, and whatever tanked, I was free to abandon. If the program served only to entertain teens, that was okay. There didn’t need to be an educational angle or goal to guide the program. Read More →

This summer, after working with teens in public libraries for seven years straight, I made a career change and now I am an elementary school librarian in a large urban school district. I will be writing a series of blog posts about my new position and the perspectives I’m gaining from my life on the school side of library services to children.

Jumping from one service group to another has been an enlightening experience, to say the least. My school serves children in grades K-4, so I’ve been switching gears to picture books, early readers and chapter books. The kids at my school can mostly be classified as struggling readers, but their enthusiasm for books and the library is very strong, and I hope that trend will continue with my help throughout the school year.

One big difference in this new job is that I am dealing with different stakeholders. At my last public library position, I served teens who wanted to be there and were interested in the materials and services we offered. Sometimes their parents directed their reading choices, but for the most part, they could check out whatever they wanted. Read More →