Saturday, December 28, 2013

Enough?


It has been awhile since I have written anything on the fly. Most of my posts as of late have been dealing with what has been happening in story time and my department's happenings, including the  GREAT YOUTH SERVICES TRANSFORMATION [all caps, all the time]...which obviously is what the bulk of a children's department programmer's blog normally is. Right now is a quiet time for many of us in the programming universe, as we take a winter break at the end of the year. I have had time to reflect on some thoughts, which I will now share with you whether you like it or not.

I don't feel like the storytime world talks about any negative feelings, so I'll go first. You're welcome.

I'm in my second year of children's programming. As time goes on, my anxiety over not being a "good enough" storytime provider grows. This is happening as I continue to seek out new materials and storytimes for my patrons and is compounded by the fact that the storytime blogger world is more freaking huge than any non-library person would ever imagine. I follow only about 15 blogs, but all of them are published by super-amazeballs people that I steal TONS of stuff from. I don't feel like I'm competing, per se, but I know that if some of these librarians worked at libraries close to me, I would have to work around their program schedules because I couldn't keep up with the fantasticalness of said folks. In a way, this makes me feel like I need to "up my game" so to speak, but I'm not really sure how. I'm upping the ante and committing to learning one new fingerplay per week in 2014, plus integrating the use of a new ukulele once it arrives. (More on next year's goals soon.)

And yes, I have read the "Impostor Syndrome" posts (here too) floating around. It doesn't help me feel any better that these posts are from the same sort of people who are doing ALL OF THE THINGS. It's sort of like Paris Hilton saying, "It's okay not to be rich or popular. You're cool rocking your Walmart pants and reading Lemony Snicket by yourself at Panera Bread." She was...um...hypothetically talking to a friend of mine...yeah. (Love you, Panera Bread!)

And then there's Pinterest and awesome (overachieving) moms who are doing many storytimelike things at home. Here's where the competition monster tries to burn me with a glue gun. I love me some crafts. Crafts to me are like STEM programs to Miss Amy, which is SERIOUS BIDNESS. However, I know that many of my patrons are crafting it up at home (painting t-shirts! finger painting! making letter of the day drawings!), and this gives me great anxiety that I'm not doing enough. I want parents to be involved with their kids, don't get me wrong. I'm worried that the library experience I offer is mundane, comparatively.

However, I'm personally not interested in being ALL WOW ALL THE TIME. What does that mean? AWATT means that you're doing something just to WOW others. I'm just not about the WOW factor. I want children and parents to have a great time at the library, but I don't feel like I'm here to put on a huge, elaborate, AWATT show for them.

Last, how do I retain patrons who aren't interested in anything less than AWATT? How do you know what's "enough?" How do you gauge a good storytime experience from a bad one? How do you deal with programming anxiety? Do you struggle with AWATT? Is this just me being me and I need to up my meds? (You don't have to answer the last question...I already know the answer.)

Next Negativity Post: Parents with Boundary Issues or You Get What You Get and You Don't Throw a Fit

4 comments:

  1. I have nothing to say except...I feel your pain. It's only in the last two years of my job that I started to feel like I knew what I was doing and that I was successful. I have an outside storytime presenter from the school district who does our babies and toddlers and I spent the first 3-4 years of my job trying to compete with Miss Pattie and convince parents that she was not the only person doing programs worth attending (not that she is not WONDERFUL and AMAZING but you try to do storytime against a background of sobbing children and disdainful parents. It's discouraging)

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  2. I feel you. I replaced a librarian that everyone loved and for the first few months folks would find out I was the new youth librarian and tell me all about how much they liked my predecessor, how welcomed she made them feel, what a great storytime presenter she was, how much their children missed her.

    Basically, the bar is thiiiiiiis high. Are you going to measure up?

    On the one hand, all completely valid feelings for people to have. She was good, they liked her. On the other hand, I had all those competitive/not good enough feelings you describe. So then I'd try to wow everybody with some cool thing I found online. And it usually turned out badly. There was this particular disaster with multiple rhythm instruments that's mostly a blur of slow motion horror feelings . . .

    It's taken me nine months to let go, find that footing and establish my own rhythms and energy in storytime.

    Most of the time.

    Thanks for putting this out there!

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  3. I know what you mean! I'm a Children's librarian and one of my co-workers is an AMAZING artist, while another one is the favorite story time librarian, while the other one is great at STEAM! I think to be mentally healthy with these comparisons, you have to look at yourself in the same way. I am a really good organizer, problem solver and team player. So, while I may not be as good in those other areas, I bring something very valuable to the team.

    Just reading your blogs....I would say you are very inspiring. =) Keep hanging in there!

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