Confessions of a First-Time Program Planner

by Scottie Kapel, Head Editor, INALJ Oregon

Confessions of a First-Time Program Planner

scottie kI am currently in the midst of planning my first program at my first library job, and so far the process has raised more questions than it has answered. For that reason, this article will be the first in a two-part series. Today, I will address the questions and doubts the planning has unearthed, and next month I will answer the questions and reveal whether my concerns were all for naught — here’s hoping on both counts.

To give you more details, I work in a school library that serves students in grades 6-12. The program is YALSA’s Teen Read Week, held October 13-19. Rather than opting to create events around their theme this year of “Seek the Unknown,” we are instead planning events around their overarching theme of “Read for the Fun of It.”

What events should we schedule?

What events do we plan and how many? Is one event per day too ambitious? We’d like to do something each day of the week, but coming up with ideas that won’t make teenagers groan and roll their eyes is more than a little difficult. We are planning events specific to middle-school and upper-school students since they don’t share time in the library, and we anticipate more active involvement from the middle school students.

How do we promote it?

What are the best ways to promote the events? Should we make posters and bookmarks? Do we advertise in the school bulletin? Should we create a Facebook event page? We want to draw the students into the library, so we don’t want to use promotional materials and verbiage that will, once again, make teenagers groan and roll their eyes and immediately decide that the week is hokey.

Will anyone participate?

Since I’m new this year I am lucky enough to have the naïve optimism of a new librarian coupled simultaneously with the paralyzing fear of failure. I’ve been warned that this inaugural event might not draw a large crowd but that it will set us up for success in future programs — cold comfort, right? I’ve always loved to read, but if I think back to my teen years — when I was a student at the very school where I am now employed — I do not recall using the library for anything more than a place to do homework and escape the miserable Florida heat, so I need to hope for the best while preparing myself for the possibility that today’s students will likewise display a similar lack of interest.

These are the questions I’m trying to work my way through and the concerns I’m trying to overcome. When I next report, I will be in the thick of Teen Read Week, so everything should be resolved one way or another. To those of you who have planned programs, do you have any words of advice or encouragement?


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