march break for teens at our library

I've just finished my first March Break (the Canadian equivalent of Spring Break in the US) in my new position as a youth librarian. It was exhilarating and a lot of work, but not nearly as exhausting as I imagined.

March Break was great for many reasons. One, I have great support from a senior librarian and manager who appreciate my efforts. Two, I am part of an amazing team of people who pitched in so I could devote myself more fully to programming, and who encouraged me daily. Three, so many amazing people lent their time and energy and expertise to the library, presenting programs that the teens loved.

And last, but maybe first, March Break was great because I love spending time with teens. I enjoy children's libarianship, but my favourite customers are always the older kids. Teens are a natural fit for me. This is fortunate for my career, too, as enjoying working with teens is apparently pretty rare. A niche!

So here's what we did this week. I cannot take credit for this great lineup, as all but one program was in place before I was hired; I slotted in my digital storytelling program to the one available space. I made posters and flyers, did the publicity, and of course ran the actual programs.

Monday: Mad Science
Volunteers from Let's Talk Science led teens in extracting DNA from a banana, making "DNA code bracelets," and GOOP, a DIY Silly Putty. This is a graduate student- led program, and the volunteers who help out are undergraduates. The leader was amazing.

Tuesday: Create Your Own E-Book
Using Galaxy tablets that Samsung donated to our library system, teens wrote stories using Storybird. I hope to roll this into a monthly Teen Writers Club program.

Wednesday: Learn to DJ
DJs Terry and Anthony of Scotia Entertainment gave a presentation on life as a professional DJ, then teens tried their hand at beat-mixing. This was a huge hit, and almost full, despite the snowstorm raging outside.

Wednesday evening: Games Night
Our "TAG" (Teen Advisory Group) presented a cozy late-afternoon of board games, card games, and video games.

Thursday: Act with the Youth Troopers
This was the best program! Unfortunately, it was also the most difficult program to market, and consequently, our lowest attendance of the week. Volunteers from the Youth Troopers for Global Awareness led a small group in movement games and improv, using our bodies and minds to express what concerns us. The kids who participated absolutely loved it. Our problem is it's very hard to explain! I talked about this with some of the young men who participated. They suggested calling it "Fun Stuff".

Friday: Robotics
Volunteers from Theory6 Robotics instructed on the basics of robotics, the led the group in a design challenge. Three teams each had to build an arm that would lift a buckyball one foot in the air. Like the Let's Talk Science program, this was led by a grad student, but the assistants were high school students. The grad student is studying mechanical engineering, and wants to pursue a career in science education. He will be a brilliant teacher.

Friday evening: Movie Night
Free movies on a cinema-sized screen, teens only. (I was home on the couch while this was going on!)

* * * *

As I said, I didn't plan March Break, as I wasn't in this position yet, but I have planned a full lineup of programs through the spring. I had flyers and posters ready, to promote our spring programs during March Break.

Through the spring, we have: DIY bookmarks, t-shirt art, container gardening (for Earth Day), altered pages (black-out poetry and other book art), shred art (crafts with shredded magazines), zine creations (more crafts with magazines), and Saturday Teen Writers Club. And of course, this is in addition to our Teen Book Club, which meets monthly - my favourite program, of course.

* * * *

If you get the impression that I'm loving my job, you're reading me right. The only thing wrong with the job is that it's temporary, and it cannot be extended or become permanent at this time. This means I have no choice but to apply for other librarian positions that may open up, and hope to return at a later date when the position may open up again, as a permanent position.

In this context, "permanent" means benefits, including paid sick time, paid vacation, and an extended health plan, which only full-time, permanent staff qualifies for. Currently only one-third of non-management library staff is permanent full-time.

A permanent position also means your job continues, including if you take a temporary job elsewhere in the system: you can get a trial run at different position, then go back to your permanent job. My permanent position is a part-time library assistant in the department where I now work. It would mean a hefty cut in both salary and responsibility, so it's a job I hope never to see. I'm not overly worried about this, but on the other hand, when I go permanent, full-time as a librarian, Allan and I will celebrate.

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