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.
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?