Monday, September 3, 2012

Where do you get your program inspiration?

Plenty of folks in youth librarianship advise their younger colleagues not to reinvent the wheel; if you've got a good set of programs and themes, stick with them. While I think this advice is good most of the time--stick with program formats you know work, with general topics that appeal to youth in your community, etc.--there is something to be said for changing things up. New programs and experiences keep everyone engaged at the library, both patrons and staff.

On the flip side, coming up with a steady stream of new ideas for programming isn't the easiest thing in the world. Or, I should say, it isn't the easiest thing in the world for me--you may very well have a wealth of ideas 24/7. Luckily there are plenty of ways for folks like me to get program inspiration. Here are a few that I have found particularly helpful in spurring new programming at my branch:

  • Other librarians' blogs. I always love to hear what folks who've working in the profession longer that I have have to say about what they do. They share ideas, successes, learning experiences, and suggestions for improving and adapting services. These folks can be the best programming support a youth librarian could ask for. My top three are Abby at Abby the Librarian, Melissa at Mel's Desk, and Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun.
  • Wonderopolis. I firmly believe that the world could always use more wonder, and Wonderopolis operates under the same belief--plus they share details on all sorts of wonders with readers. A wonder every day, as a matter of fact. Wonderopolis posts are great sources of ideas and also great resources to flesh out ideas you already had. They're awesome.
  • Mixing in Math. I am always striving to incorporate more math and science into my library services, and Mixing in Math is a great source of information and ideas for doing so. I get their monthly e-mail newsletter, so I can depend upon ideas getting to me even if I'm feeling too swamped to browse online.
  • ALSC Blog. I began using the ALSC Blog for program ideas and professional advice long before I started writing for it. The community of library professionals who serve children is vast, and I love how ALSC serves as a collective brain. On the ALSC Blog, I can almost always get that spark of inspiration I need--and at the same time I can discover what crazy ideas worked for other libraries and begin to adapt them for my own branch.
  • Podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and the variety of topics they cover usually gives me plenty of opportunity to find something applicable to the library and my kiddos. These aren't really children's podcasts, but the topics they cover are often relevant. I really enjoy Radiolab, Stuff You Missed In History Class, How to Do Everything, and 99% Invisible. Recently the best idea-sparkers have been science-related--space in particular. I've got some rocketry and astronomy ideas bouncing around in my brain, and I'm excited to see what they turn into.
  • Pinterest. Obviously this list of go-to inspiration sites would be incomplete without Pinterest, which is a wellspring of all sorts of library-relevant info. Since I can easily become overwhelmed by the volume of ideas, however, I tend not to browse Pinterest but instead visit the site once I have a rough theme in mind--then I'll search the boards for activities and crafts that fit within that theme. I know folks who start here, though, and it totally works for them.
So there you have it, my go-to sources for program inspiration. I'd love to hear what you do when you're planning you next round of programs and feel stumped. What sources do you turn to for inspiration?


  1. Thanks for the blog love , Amy! I get great ideas form your blog too including some of the sources above that I have never used. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Amy! I love your blog, too! :D

  3. Hello everyone So I'm new to the Librarian world. So tips or anything would be supper helpful. I am loving this blog


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.