Baby Explosion: Is Double Programming the Answer?

I’m positive I’m not the only children’s librarian experiencing an overwhelming number of parents/nannies trying to sign up for early childhood programs.  My Baby Laptime and Toddler Storytime programs are easily the most popular of any programs I offer.  As it stands now, I can only allow parents/nannies to sign their kids up for one program per month.  Just one.  And they are none to happy about it.  I’ve done my best to explain why having 35 instead of 85 toddlers is the better way to maintain the integrity and quality of the program.  I’ve referred them to nearby branches with similar programs.  But the parents and caregivers just don’t want to hear it.  They want their baby/toddler programs and they want them often. 

Can I get my stroller parking validated?

So my question is this: given the constraints of branch responsibilities, dealing with being short-staffed, and maintaining the quality of the programs you do offer, what is a reasonable amount of early childhood programs given the demand?

I’ve considered doing back-to-back programs.  This would mean doing a baby or toddler program at 10:30am followed by another baby or toddler program at 11:30am.  I’d have to give out tickets to the grownups, figure out a way to get one group in while the other group leaves, and coordinate it all so that the rest of the staff and users aren’t disturbed by the parade of strollers coming and going all morning.  If I do this it would mean parents/caregivers could sign their baby up for two programs per month- instead of one. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re a double-programmer.  How to you organize it?  Does the first group leave peaceably or do you get sneaky ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ squatters?  Do you find that you’re a little winded by the second program and less exuberant?  But most of all- is it worth the extra work, annoyed co-workers, and general insanity?

 

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5 thoughts on “Baby Explosion: Is Double Programming the Answer?

  1. I do back to back lapsit programs and it goes fabulously. I have even trained the first group to help clean the toys for the second group! I have never ever had a squatter. The first program is at 10:00. We have stories/rhymes/singing until 10:30, then play time, then clean-up at 10:45. With 20+ moms cleaning that room is ship shape is about 2 minutes. They say bye-bye and the next group rolls in when I stick my head out and tell them it’s time. It took some parent training, but now it’s quite smooth.
    I don’t worry so much about the rest of the library. Baby Lapsite times are posted and we give them fair warning!

    Good luck!

  2. We do three of our four regular story times back-to-back; my story time for 2 1/2-3 1/2-year-olds is every other Thursday and Friday at 10 and 11. It’s a 30-minute program, so I don’t have trouble with overlap. If people want to stay (or come back the next day) I tell them they’ll get a rerun, which usually discourages them! We do have registration, and we let parents sign up a month at a time.

    Now, our system is much smaller (a single library serving about 30,000 people), but it seems like most of the libraries in our area do a similar schedule.

  3. We also do 2 toddler times, back to back, 10-10:35( 20 min books, songs, fingerplays, 30 minutes baby toys) and 11, as they are both registered programs it isn’t bad. We just have to make sure the toys are cleaned up and put away for the next group.

    We also do a lapsit program and a Mother Goose back to back but those are for 2 different audiences so it isn’t as much a problem.

    Good luck getting the mothers and nannies to accept that the program is full or to go to a different branch.

  4. We do quite a few back-to-back storytimes, and they work really well. There are a lot of people milling around in the “between” time. (We allow fifteen minutes between one program ending and the other beginning.) This is offset by the fact that the first group is always really good about helping us clean up and get ready for the second. When I first started doing this, I thought I’d be tired for the second storytime, but I find that the opposite is true and that I usually do a better storytime the second time around.

  5. All of your comments have been hugely helpful. I think if I decide to go the double-programming route, I’ll be better prepared having read your tips and tricks! I like the idea of “training” the first batch of parents to clean up the room and ready it for the next group.

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