Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Things I Never Learned In Library School: You Will Never Have Another Summer Vacation

If you are not in youth services, you may be shocked – shocked I tell ya! – to learn that summer is the busiest part of a youth or teen services librarian’s life.  Summer is not when we take vacation and hang out with our kids.  No, we spend the first part of the year trying to plan for summer, the summer trying not to pull our hair out, and the fall trying to recuperate.

Summer Reading Clubs (or Challenged or Programs, whatever you call them) are often the biggest production of a library program.  I am not kidding when I say that libraries spend months planning.  There are prizes to obtain and organize, performers and programs to book, marketing materials to gather together . . . and you have to do all this while you are still doing the day to day activities.

My dad had the audacity one year to get remarried in July.  In another state. 
Some of you already know what a really big deal it was to try and get the time off for this event.  And ALA every year in the summer? Forget about it.  I went in asking for the time off this year with my tail between my legs and my very best puppy dog eyes.  I got the time off, but it also means we have to scramble to find people to take over programming, man SRC material stations and more.

Most libraries will host a summer reading club/challenge/program that begins when the school year ends and lasts anywhere from 6, 8 or 10 weeks.  The thing is, summer reading programs are really beneficial to our kids as it helps to keep them reading over the summer months.  Yes, some kids are readers and they will read regardless, but we all know that many aren’t and they need that extra incentive.

Library summer programs also provide educational and entertainment opportunities for the community throughout the less busy summer months.  Idle hands and minds can get into trouble, but summer reading programs provide a wide variety of programming events to help kids (and teens) occupy their time during the hot summer months.  From magicians to scientists to cute and cuddly animals, there are cool things happening at libraries across the globe during the summer months.  Just remember that when you are having fun at the library, a dedicated team of librarians worked behind the scenes to make all that happen, often sacrificing their own summer fun along the way.

As I get ready to kick off my own SRC for the year, I am reminded why we are doing this: Reading makes us all better, and the summer is a great time to read.  We’ll just have to take a vacation in the fall.

Here is some research from the ALA webpage about SRPs. Hopefully, knowing how beneficial SRPs are helps take some of the sting out of the loss of that summer vacation time.

So tell us about your Summer Reading Plans:
How long does your SRP last?
How do you have teens keep track of their reading?
How many and what types of programs will you be doing?
Do you believe in offering prizes for reading or would you rather just emphasize reading for fun?
And are you getting any time off this summer?


  1. I just lost my Youth Dept. Supervisor last week, and she was instrumental with the SRP. I am very fortunate that she tried to ensure everything was in place before she left, gave staff and me a three month checklist, and we have devoted volunteers to help!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yay for super organized youth services librarians who leave good notes! Good luck to you. Teen Librarian Toolbox, Karen

  3. Our program is rather short – we start July 1st and end around mid-August, but we have 2-3 programs planned for each of those weeks, and are working on getting our prizes and stuff ready now (We did all the flyers, calendars, brochures, etc in April so they would be done!). We decorate for June so the teens know what to expect, and we have already thrown out some reading lists to get them started. We try to just have to run the programs (movies, Rick Morin's Rhythm Imaginarium, celebrating Shark Week, treasure hunts, time-capsules, etc) and do our day-to-day stuff by the time the program starts!

    Plus, I will be on maternity leave starting the first of August (and hopefully not sooner!!) so we will only have one part-timer running the program for at least two weeks! She deserves a vacation after that, which hopefully will get approved for her :o)

  4. I offer our usual 7 weekly programs plus an additional weekly afternoon program all 9 weeks of summer. We do take 4th of July week off and just have a Stuffed Animal Sleepover that week. I was hired in May (five years ago!) and found some boxes of stuff in the closet and just went with what I had for summer reading. We've gotten bigger (and I like to think better) every year. Here's what I'm doing this year http://inshortbusy.blogspot.com/2013/05/summer-reading-2013-edition.html

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