Is your well of programming ideas running dry? Find inspiration in some of our favorite blogs.
As a programming librarian, it can be hard to consistently provide creative, original ideas for your patrons (you can only host so many book talks, right?). But there's a simple solution for librarians seeking support and inspiration: the blogosphere.
On the great wide web there are hundreds of librarians, just like you, writing about everything from programming ideas to the comical (and sometimes irritating) things patrons do. Programming Librarian talked to just a few of our favorite bloggers; if you have others, share them in the comments.
5 Min Lib knows how busy librarians can be, so it offers ideas that can be easily digested in five minutes. But don't think that means these ideas are simple — the site has advanced plans for social media, marketing, technology and book displays.
- Why Jessica Bacon, one of the site's founders, started blogging: "My Teen Librarian Collaborative Group was a huge inspiration for the blog. Over time, I started hearing the same questions and witnessed great answers being lost. This made me realize we needed a blog for public librarians: a place people can go to get information on the basics as well as useful new ideas."
- Their most popular post: ALA to Zuckerburg: Librarian Facebook Groups
- Advice Bacon gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "Before you go live with your blog, write at least four posts ahead of time. See how long it takes you to write them and then make a realistic plan of how often you'll publish. A lot of my posts take hours to research, write and create shareable documents. I'm so grateful for my two colleagues, Allie Cusher and Kat Ealy, for joining me in this venture and sharing the workload."
- Bacon's favorite librarian blogs: RA for All, Super Library Marketing and YA Books and More
Rebecca McCorkindale, an assistant library director in Nebraska who considers herself a "punk rock book jockey," originally started this blog looking for a creative outlet where she could express herself. While she still writes the occassional post unrelated to librarianship, the blog is mostly filled with programming ideas and original poster designs.
- Why she started blogging: "To be painfully honest, I started blogging in order to drive people to my Etsy shop. I had not been feeling creatively fulfilled in my job, so the combo of blog/shop helped in that area. Once my wonderful director helped my job evolve and include the title 'creative director,' things took a major shift in my life. I let my shop go and focused more on what we were doing at our library. I thought we were doing some great things, and by sharing all that I could, we could impact more librarians and help lighten their load."
- Her most popular posts: Libraries Are For Everyone and Readers Assemble!
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "Do it! Do it! Do it! Blogging has absolutely changed my life for the better. Even when I had a teeny-tiny following, I lucked into discovering how awesome the library blogging community is. As a result, I've made lifelong friends and mentors who inspire me every day."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Bryce Don't Play, Tales for the Tiny and Jbrary
- Why she started blogging: "Back in 2013, there was a circle of youth services librarians starting up and maintaining blogs. We were sharing program ideas, discussing ethics and best practices and just pondering the profession's great questions together. For me it was particularly important because I was starting my first full-time librarian gig as a rural branch manager. Rural librarians can sometimes be isolated and don't always benefit from the kinds of professional networks that people in large library systems find in their workplace. For me, blogging was a way to share my experiences and learn from others as I went."
- Her most popular post: Harry Potter Birthday Party and The Walrus Does His Laundry
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "There are a lot of positives to blogging. It can help serve as a portfolio of your programs and experiences for potential employers, it can connect you to peers who can help you grow, and it helps other librarians feel less alone and find ideas that might work for them. However, if you're sharing program ideas, outlines and downloadable content, just spend some time examining this unpaid labor that you're providing other professionals."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Bryce Don't Play, Hi, Miss Julie, At the Intersection, Fat Girl Reading and Hafuboti
Look to Karissa Fast, our neighbor to the north, for out-of-the-box programming ideas. As a children and teen librarian, she's tried everything from pizza jewelry to zombie Barbies, and has plenty of advice on how to make sure even bad art nights run smoothly.
- Why she started blogging: "I believe that if we all shared our resources, libraries could become even more awesome. My blog initially started as a project for a course in library school, but it has evolved into so much more."
- Her most popular post: Pokemon Scavenger Hunt in the Library and 10 Poems That Teenagers Might Actually Love
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "Share, share, share. Include as many resources as you can on your posts: documents, signs, instructions, recipes, tutorials, etc. I made the decision to do this early on, and regularly receive messages of appreciation."
- Her favorite librarian blog: Jbrary
Julie Jurgens focuses on library services for children and teens, with a special focus on storytime, ethics, leadership and intellectual freedom. But really, she talks about all things library — one of her recent post condemned age limits on adult programs.
- Why she started blogging: "I started blogging after I got out of library school because it seemed like the thing to do. I also have lots and lots of opinions, and it seemed like a good place to get them out of my head so I'd have room to think about other things."
- Her most popular post: Ego, Thy Name is Librarianship
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "Be passionate about something and share that passion. I'm not seeing too many blogs where librarians dig into meaty issues. It isn't the easiest thing to do — it can make a writer feel very unsafe and exposed. But the more we, as a profession, start addressing these issues via honest and open conversations, the better off we'll be."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Fuse #8, Bookshelves of Doom, Stacked, JBrary, Bryce Don't Play and At the Intersection
This blog, created by Megan Hoak, focuses on programming ideas for teens but also features author interviews and rants and ramblings on a variety of library topics.
- Why she started blogging: "I wanted a place to keep a record of all my library programs and professional achievements — an updatable account that I could review for personal improvement and collaboration with others. It was also incredibly helpful when I started applying for teen librarian jobs. My current library director told me he was impressed by the pictures and examples of the programs on my blog when I was interviewing."
- Her most popular post: The Athenaeum: Teen Wing Tour
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blogs: "Be true to who you are, then channel that into something you can share. I got the idea for my blog title when I was, quite literally, shushed by a reference librarian during a teen program. Apparently I was louder and even more excited than the kids I was working with! I realized in that moment I was never going to be a quiet, “traditional” librarian. So I gave it up and embraced my loudness, and The Loudmouth Librarian was born."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Oregon Young Adult Network, Teen Librarian Toolbox, Teen Services Underground and Jbrary
Lindsey Krabbenhoft and Dana Horrocks started this blog as a class project for an MLIS course, but it has since blossomed into a blog and YouTube channel full of ideas. Focused on children's storytime, you can find both YouTube playlists and programming ideas in this blog's archives.
- Why they started blogging: "We wanted to contribute to the community of youth services bloggers who graciously share their ideas online. We ourselves had learned so much from other bloggers that we wanted to give back in some way."
- Their most popular posts: Toddler Storytime: How I Plan and Toddler Storytime: Favorite Read Alouds
- Advice they give librarians thinking about starting their own blog: "We wrote a post a few years ago with our 5 Tips for Youth Services Bloggers, and they all still hold true! Also, think about how much time you'll have to dedicate to a blog and if it's the right choice for what you want to convey. Many people start blogs and abandon them because they just don't have the time to maintain it."
- Their favorite librarian blogs: Mel's Desk, Storytime Katie, the ALSC Blog, Ontarian Librarian, Tales for the Tiny and The Lego Librarian
This blog, run by public librarian Amy Koester, is dedicated to exploring programs, services and other topics in youth- and family-focused librarianship. A firm believer in collaboration in librarianship, Koester shares her successes and failures in programming and has a whole section dedicated to STEAM programming.
- Why she started blogging: "I had moved to Missouri for a new children's librarian job, and as I didn't know anyone, I was looking for ways to expand my network and build my librarian skills. Blogging was a good way to do that."
- Her most popular posts: How to Host a Lego Club and Selection is Privilege
- Advice she gives to librarians thinking about starting their own blog: "Sharing program plans and recaps of what you did in your library is great, but the content that will really make your blog useful is including what you've learned from a program and what you'd rethink if you had the opportunity to try again. Going through the exercise of reflection is really helpful in showing the full spectrum of how a program worked, and it also helps readers see how a similar initiative could be relevant in their library."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Bryce Don't Play, Hi, Miss Julie and Library Makers
Lisa M. Shaia, a children's librarian for the past 13 years, created this blog to provide engaging programs to keep kids coming back to the library. The site offers ample programming inspiration, with a highlight being her series of books vs. movies programming ideas for grades K-6.
- Why she started blogging: "I originally started my blog to participate in the weekly Flannel Friday round-ups. There wasn't much out there for school-age programming, so I thought if I started sharing ideas others might, too."
- Her most popular posts: Rethinking Book Clubs for the School Age and Be the Competition
- Advice she gives librarians thinking about starting their own blog: "Be yourself, share what you know and find your community's niche."
- Her favorite librarian blogs: Miss Meg's Storytime, Bryce Don't Play, Jbrary, Fat Girl Reading and Hafuboti