(This is what I look like after a librarian win day)
I love my job. I think it's the greatest job in the world and I am excited to go to work every day. But as much as I love it, I can still have days that are just off.
A couple of weeks ago, my weekly toddler storytime had a huge number of attendees. We don't have registration, so while we have regular attendees, we also have a lot of visitors and new faces each week. This week I happened to end up with 40 kids and 30 adults in my storytime, which made the room very crowded! It's not unheard of for us to get these many for one storytime, but it always takes me by surprise when the crowd just keeps coming in, especially when it's not summer (in summer we get huge numbers!)
It's not that my storytime was bad. The books were fine, I did stories about frogs, sang my regular songs, did the Five Little Frogs fingerplay, and had lots of activities around the room about jumping, tossing flies into the mouth of the Wide Mouth Frog, and a favorite, play-dough. It's not that the adults didn't interact-they did. They sang the songs, talked to the kiddos about the books, everything I want to happen in storytime.
But it was such a big crowd that everyone interacting created a hum of involvement as I read. And the room was so full, I had to project my voice over everyone so all the kids and parents could hear me. At the end of storytime, it just felt like it was OK. Not the greatest, but not awful either. There was just something that felt off to me and it left me feeling a little disappointed and like I hadn't done my job very well. Did the kids like the books? Did the parents even hear my information about the early lit skill we were working on that day? Did they only think of storytime as a playgroup activity and didn't care what I had to say?
The blah feeling stayed for my preschool storytime. It was OK, the kids had an OK time and liked the books and songs well enough, but it just felt off somehow.
Flash forward a week later. Time for my weekly toddler storytime. This time, I had around 30 kids and 20 adults, which felt so much smaller! I introduced my book theme as a fan favorite, Transportation and Things That Go. There was a hum in the room, but it was a hum of excitement over the seeing the trucks in the books. They sang along with my songs, loved identifying the various trucks for "Where Are Trucks" (I stole this from Stortyime Katie because she's brilliant. Seriously, do this song in storytime and watch your kiddos go bonkers!) They couldn't wait to dance The Freeze and laughed when we sang Seals on the Bus. They had a blast with the various construction activities I had set up around the room.
I don't know exactly what made this storytime different than the week before. The layout and format were the same. I even repeated several songs and books. But there was just something that clicked that made me feel awesome. My books flowed with my early literacy skill, my adults were involved, and the kids had a blast.
Same thing happened in my preschool storytime. They loved the books-I read It's a Tiger and we did the Greg and Steve version of Goin' On a Bear Hunt-total hit!
Then, later that afternoon, one of our regular families came in and said they had loved a book I had suggested and could I give them more ideas? I got to spend part of my afternoon giving them booklists, sharing resources we had at the library, giving them book suggestions, putting them on hold for books, and talking about books we liked and didn't like. It made my day!
And it didn't stop there. Other patrons heard me talking about various books and wanted suggestions of their own (I love when that happens!) I got to spend my afternoon doing my favorite part of the job-reader's advisory.
I walked away that day thinking I had had such a Librarian Win of a day. I had a blast in storytime and I felt as though my kids had a blast as well. I felt like my adults got involved and came away with new books and songs for their kids. I had helped patrons find great resources and books. It was the type of day that made me fall in love with my job all over again.
As librarians, it seems like we're always talking about how can make an impact in our community, how can the library stay relevant in changing times, and how can I prove that my job matters? Especially when you work in youth services where there's an idea that all you do is read books and cut paper all day (which believe me, is so not true!) It sometimes feels as though we have to fight for our jobs. We know what we do is important, but it can be draining. It's hard work. It's a lot of preparation. It's relationship building. It's constantly working to expand your knowledge base to meet the needs of your patrons.
Sometimes we just need those librarian win days to make us feel like what we do matters. We are important. We are making a difference. And those librarian win days make all the difference.
So thank you to all the library users out there who come into the library and make our days special even when you don't realize it. You make our jobs so much fun. You are why we do what we do.
And thank you to all the librarians out there who work tirelessly to have winning days every day.