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Adventures in early literacy

First Youth Services Staff Event Complete

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My first big district-wide youth services gathering was today. The SRP Celebration. This event has historically occurred every year around the same time-late August or early September-to celebrate the end of SRP and for youth services staff to get some training. I love the idea of an end of summer gathering for our district because being geographically spread out across 5 counties means youth services people don’t get to see each other very often. Plus, many branch managers are the de facto youth services person in their branch so this gives them a day to focus on one of the many things they have under their responsibilities umbrella.


All this being said, right away there were some things I knew I wanted to change about the Celebration. First, no formal training. Even when it’s fun, the brain of a youth services librarian at the end of summer is basically a locked vault and no more information is getting in that sucker. You all know what I’m talking about. Your brain is anxious to unload information, talk about the problems you had during the summer, commiserate with peers, fix ALL THE THINGS. So, I decided our SRP Celebration would basically be a day of discussion and brainstorming. Get all those ideas for change out on the table. While it’s still freshly annoying, let’s talk about sign ups and program attendance and those terrible performers. And once we’ve gotten it out of our system, let’s talk about how to make it better.


We also had a celebration for a retiring librarian, an SRP software demo, a Cricut demo, “shopping” the stuff we cleaned out of storage, and lots of food. Plus, the 5 Facts game where each person sent me 5 facts about themselves which I hung up around the room with names redacted. Attendees then had to guess who each of the lists belonged to for a chance to win awesome swag. Like giant stuffed fake toast and Storytime Underground t-shirts. 🙂


All in all, I think the day was a success. I’m totally exhausted, but already have some ideas for the future.



  1. No catered lunch. This was a huge undertaking, costly, and there was a ton leftover. Plus, with all the dietary issues to consider there were still people who could not eat much of what was presented. Next time we’ll do potluck or lunch on your own.
  2. Have the training at the beginning of September instead of the end of August. That way SRP is truly over for everyone but Storytimes have not yet begun.
  3. More actually planning and hands on work. This is easy because the only reason we had so much discussion this year is that because I’m new, it’s a perfect time to reevaluate SRP and make big changes. In future years it will be easier to build concrete planning into the day, in addition to idea sharing. The goal would be to accomplish a small list of action items by the end of the day. More like a meeting.
  4. Age specific breakouts. Have breakout discussion sessions specific to early learners, middle grade and teens, and elementary age. Like a guerrilla storytime, participants would share what worked and didn’t and get ideas for improving.
  5. More fun. I actually think we had a lot of fun, but I think we could still do more. There were some ideas thrown out for this year’s workshop that we didn’t end up doing because of time constraints, like tabletop game tournaments, Chocolate Olympics, and a telephone drawing game. A great way to try out activities you might actually do with kids and teens while also having a ton of fun


The best part of the day for me was coming away SO JAZZED about the future. I cannot wait to see what these amazing people do in their communities for summers (all year!) to come. Pretty pleased with how I spent my last day as a 31 year old. 🙂


Here’s to next year, and to all of you summer reading warriors! Give yourselves a pat on the back, get a drink or ice cream or tacos, and rest your beautiful brains.  Cheers!


Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

One thought on “First Youth Services Staff Event Complete

  1. What a great approach. We always SLP debriefed (read: whine, celebrate, “let’s do this/never do that”) when I was a manager at a single location. Now that I am working with 30 libraries in a library system, I can see that creating a larger venue for this would really help alot of our member libraries who work in relative isolation or in small partnerships with a few neighboring libraries. Especially the celebratory, “you-did-it” part. And I think it would serve a larger need than a traditional annual System level SLP workshop. I know what’s gonna happen in 2017 (contract got renewed!). Thanks so much for the post!

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