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A Long Day’s Night: Hosting an After Hours Program (A Day in the Life of a Library 2013)

I am an everything librarian.  My official title is Senior Librarian, but I am the manager, the adult and teen and tween librarian, the partial youth librarian (I have a part time youth librarian), and the circulation supervisor.  I am also crazy about teen programming, and think that it’s extremely important.  So much so, that once a month I have a very long Wednesday.  
Typically on Wednesdays I work 9-7 with an hour unpaid break, but once a month I hold a program called Teen After Hours.  My library (and all the libraries in my system) closes at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, and for a select number of teens, I have the library open from 6 – 9 p.m.  We have our library’s PS3, Wii, and XBOX 360 set up to projectors or a TV stand for free play, the library’s computers open for use, the stacks available for browsing, and tables available for card dueling.  I am typically full to capacity at these programs, with teens asking after it’s started to be let in.  We’re the only library in my system that does this, and I’m the only one staffing the program, so reluctantly I have to turn them away, but I always remind them that the signs were there, and the next one will be the second Wednesday of next month.  It’s hugely popular- I have tweens counting down the months until their 13th birthday, which is the threshold to gain admittance to any teen program.
Needless to say, it makes for a very long Wednesday.


We (my full time aide and I, as we’re the only library staff on Wednesday, unless someone needs to make up hours) have an hour to do everything to open the library.  We do the money processing, process the book drop, open the public computers, check the system for holds, and do whatever else needs to be done to make the day run smoothly.  I also take the time to organize my thoughts and figure out my goals for the day.  Today’s agenda:  process the new materials that came through the run the last two days, start weeding the graphic novels and teen sections as we’re sorely in need of space, and shift those sections if possible.

New materials to be processed today

While we have tech and outside vendors to handle normal processing, there are location specific things that have to be done to each item.  I mark each item off my database so I know that they’re here, tag new books for display, and assign numbers for each new DVD for our filing system.  We can’t keep the DVDs in the case on the floor, so each DVD has a number and is filed behind the information desk. The case itself goes onto the floor and the patron brings the empty case up for check-out.  Everything then needs to be scanned into the system, and the record changed accordingly so that a note appears with the DVD number.  It seems tedious, but helps everyone keep track the DVDs.
After processing the new materials and placing the new books on display, I got to start weeding.  Our graphic novels are extremely popular, but some series just aren’t circulating, and need to leave to make room for newer series.  The area I have for graphic novels stretches into the teen section, and by weeding the graphic novels, and condensing their area somewhat, I can expand the teen area one set of shelves.  Before lunch, I was able to weed the graphic novels, pulling the lowest circulating series and single issues, as well as those that were worn out beyond repair.  Marking those in the system and boxing them up for the inter-system run, new materials and weeding took up my morning.
After I came back from lunch, I was on the reference desk while my aide took her break.  I assisted in job searches, answered emails, found IRS forms, created passes for the teen program this evening, updated materials for our system summer reading program, troubleshooted the public computers, and found materials for patrons referred from other locations.  All while working solo.
When my aide returned, I attacked the teen section and weeded books that had the lowest circulation for the past 5 years, and were in poor condition, and processed them.  One of my “new adults” (former teens) had come to the center for the day, and I was able to persuade him to help shift the graphic novels and teen books around with me.
Volunteer in new teen area.  We expanded to add a fourth bookshelf.

By the time we got this completed, and I got all the books marked to be withdrawn in the system and boxed up for the run, the schools are starting to be released and it’s the start of our busy time.  We are close to two different schools (middle and elementary), and in a shared building with a recreation center, so the majority of our patronage are under 18.  Between 3:30 and 6, my aide and I found biographies, study aides, assisted in all areas of homework, translated school notes for parents, found more IRS forms, gave out passes, handed out coloring sheets to kids looking for things to do, and gave out numerous numbers for the computer terminals.
Patronage in library near closing

By the time we closed, we were packed with youth and parents working on assignments and youth from the after school camp, with everyone doing all sorts of activities.  Not to mention, my teens waiting impatiently for everyone to leave so that After Hours could start.
At 6:15, we finally had everyone out and could start After Hours.  The teens set up the PS3 on one projector, the XBOX 360 on another, and the Wii on the TV.  After the mandatory group pictures, the lights were turned out and the gaming commenced.  Homework was even done in the second hour when it was realized that assignments were due tomorrow.  Madden 08, Marvel vs. Capcom, NBA 12, and DC vs Mortal Kombat ruled the evening on the gaming systems.  Final count ended at 14 teens, and one adult (That Guy, who usually brings dinner and stays for the evening, was too exhausted to stay after running dinner and went home).
Pictures during After Hours

We ended at 8:50, with the lights snapping on and the teens picking up and packing up everything.  I make sure that before they leave the library is in opening condition- nothing on the floors or tables, everything put away- otherwise, we don’t have another one.
By 9:10, I am out the door, and on my way home.  A little over 11 hours of work but everything done I wanted to accomplish, and 14 teenagers spending time with someone who they know cares, with many more asking when the next one is as I leave the parking lot.  Definitely a day worthwhile.

For more on our 2013 advocacy project, A Year in the Life of a Library 2013, go here.

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