Teen Librarian Toolbox
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SRC is Coming: 5 Tips for Staying Calm During the Stressful Summer Months

thingineverlearnedIt’s almost here – summer reading. If you are a YS or YA librarian you’ve most likely spent the last month getting publicity together and out into the public, making school visits, decorating, and making sure performers are all lined up and payment paperwork is in order. It’s a busy time of year. And that’s an understatement.

This year I had a first and a booked performer contacted me to let me know they had a terrific new job opportunity in a new state, which is great for them but was a few stressful moments for me. It all worked out, in part because the performer was kind enough to recommend a back-up and that transition went smoothly. After 20 years of doing this I feel kind of calm about it all, but even I still approach the oncoming summer months the way one might approach an oncoming storm. There’s no denying that it’s an intense period of programming and marketing and watching statistics, because at the end of the day those stats matter very much to library administrators.

There’s a lot of very real internal and external pressure during these months. So it’s important that we find ways to de-stress and keep ourselves going. Here are some of my favorite tips, please share yours in the comments.

1. Network for Support

Now more than ever it’s nice to have relationships with fellow librarians who I can complain to because they alone understand. Whether it be the problems of trying to deal with last minute snags on the day of a performance or what happens when that one family comes 15 minutes after the program has started and you are very sorry but you can not let them in because the room capacity has been reached, it’s nice to have that friend that you can meet for lunch or send the what do I do now text to get a moment of support. For more check out networking part 1 and part 2.

2. Keep a Stash of Snacks and Water Handy

A hungry Karen is a cranky Karen, which is super bad for prime SRC days. And sometimes despite your best planning and preparation, you can’t get to lunch before a big program because you’re too busy setting up and decorating and putting up signage. Make sure you have healthy snacks – and don’t forget some chocolate! – nearby. It can make everyone’s day go better. Also, stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is good. There’s a lot of truth to those Snickers commercials.

3. Have a Backup Plan to Your Emergency Backup Plan

So one time our performer ended up being more than 30 minutes late, which caused a whole host of problems. We had 100 people waiting around the library and it was not awesome. After about 15 minutes of crying kids, complaining parents, and a noise level that dramatically interfered with others trying to use the library, I grabbed some books and corralled everyone into the program room for an impromptu storytime. I have since learned the value of having an emergency activity ready in case a performer is late or, worse yet, cancels. Always have a backup activity on standby.

4. Consider Letting Staff Take Vacation During SRC

So let’s talk about a controversial part of SRC: summer vacations. Many libraries don’t permit youth services staff take vacation during the summer because of the intense focus placed on summer reading. This means that any youth services or young adult librarian who has school aged children never really gets to take a family vacation, which I hope we can all agree is an issue.  But don’t get me wrong, it’s an issue for all youth services staff because everyone wants to take a vacation during summer sometimes. One time my brother had the audacity to get married in the early summer – in a different state. Trying to get time off to attend the wedding of my only sibling proved to be challenging, which is unfortunate because our family obviously can’t be expected to arrange their life around our work, no matter how much our work may mean to us. I have had conversations with others on Twitter about this very topic and always get a lot of responses ranging from no we’re not allowed ever to yes we are and it makes all the difference. If you are an administrator who does not permit your youth services staff to take any vacation during the 6, 8, 10 or 12 weeks that your SRC is taking place, please consider finding ways to make this possible for your staff. For example, you can have more performers and less staff lead programs so that other staff may sub in and do introductions on that day. You’ll definitely want to have back up people in place in case of emergency and illnesses any way, so why not let them make sure your youth services staff can have one week of vacation in the middle of summer.

5. Color Yourself Calm


Recently there have been numerous articles about coloring books for adults and the health benefits. You can read some of those articles here, here and here. So when Quarto Publishing Group and I discussed doing a series of posts and giveaways, I knew I wanted to include this book because I wanted to write this post – it’s timely for us all – and I wanted one of the books to be for you  because I know what is approaching us all. So much of what we do as youth services and young adult librarians is about serving others, knowing them and meeting their needs. But there is a thing they tell you when you are a new parent: in order to be a good parent you must also make sure to take care of yourself, to make sure your needs are met and you give yourself permission to recharge. I think this is also true for any of us in a service profession. We have to keep filling our tank in order to keep having something to give. So take a few moments and color a picture, de-stress, find your calm, fill your rank. Give yourself permission to take care of you during this very busy time.

Trust me, we’re all going to need it.

About Quarto Publishing Group

The Quarto Publishing Group (formerly Quayside Publishing Group) books have earned a reputation for style and quality in the fields of art, crafts, hobbies, food and drink, nature, lifestyle, reference and children’s. The children’s program just launched in 2014 with the creation of Walter Foster Jr., but expanded dramatically with the “coming home” of our Quarto UK imprints Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and QEB Publishing, now formally published through Quarto USA. In addition, a number of our general and specialty book imprints, such as Quarry Books, Motorbooks, and Race Point, publish books on history, craft, art, and other topics of interest to teen readers. Visit us know at www.quartous.com and beginning this June at www.QuartoKnows.com.

Don’t forget to go to the Quarto Publishing Giveaway post to win a copy of Color Yourself Calm in addition to four other Quarto titles. Giveaway closes on 5/26/2015. Open to U.S. Residents.


  1. Great advice in summary is always be prepared for all this, though not always

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