Children's librarians select materials for the library's children's department, but they also do much more. They are responsible for planning a variety of programs and activities for young library patrons as well. They must conduct outreach, promote upcoming programs, help with reference questions, and create innovative book displays.
A librarian who works with children must be well-versed in children's literature — from toddler books to young adult novels. She should regularly peruse children's literature journals such as The Horn Book and School Library Journal. These journals contain extensive reviews of books currently available for young people. By studying these journals, she can make wise decisions on which books and materials should be included in the children's and young adult sections of the library.
A children's librarian must also plan programs for a wide range of ages. Many libraries can only afford to hire one librarian to work in youth services. Therefore, a children's librarian finds himself planning a preschool story time one moment and a teen program the next. Later in the day, he may lead a book club for school age children. It's important that he relate well to kids of all ages and executes programs they will enjoy. He must also plan crafts for the activities in the library. This involves making prototypes so that kids will have a model to follow when making their own art projects.
Helping with reference questions is another important task for a librarian who works with children. Many students come to the library to complete homework and special projects. The librarian directs them to the materials they need in order to complete their assignments. She helps them with Internet research, guiding them toward the use of online databases that provide trustworthy sources for school reports.
Conducting outreach is another responsibility of a librarian who works with young patrons. Many times, she travels to schools and day cares in order to read stories to children and encourage them to visit the library. She often does a book talk, a short "commercial" where she persuades the audience to check out a particular book. Since she regularly performs before an audience, she should have a flare for the dramatic, presenting story times and book talks in a lively manner so kids become excited about books and the library.
Many children's librarians are also responsible for writing press releases and creating the monthly children's events calendar. It's important that the public is made aware of the variety of activities and programs offered by the children's department; therefore, part of their responsibility is to submit press releases to the media to get the word out about upcoming events.
A librarian who works with children is expected to create informative book lists and pathfinders that help patrons locate books that might be of interest to them. For example, she may compile a handout that includes a list of teen horror books or award winning books. She may also create a handout that refers patrons to lesser known books that are similar to popular ones in the library. This helps patrons discover more books that may be to their liking. Book lists and pathfinders are often included in a binder or posted on the library's web page so that patrons can have access to the information.
Children's librarians create book displays that revolve around particular themes or holidays. For example, they may create a sign about dragon books. She would then pull a variety of books on dragons and display them with the sign in hopes that kids will choose one of the books to check out.
The library's summer reading program is one of the most important job responsibilities of a youth services librarian. It's imperative that she prepares for the program months in advance. Programs include special events, story times, special guests, and arts and crafts. The goal is to encourage children to read over the summer by providing exciting activities at the library. Children win prizes by reading a predetermined amount of books throughout the summer months. Often the summer program includes a finale where children who meet their reading goals attend a special celebration. Since the summer reading program is such a huge event, the children's librarian makes careful preparations in order to ensure that it is a success.
A children's librarian is responsible for a variety of tasks within the library. She must be skilled at conducting story times and book talks. She must schedule performers, create book lists, signs, and creative book displays. She will conduct outreach and organize the summer reading program. The librarian must also write press releases and design the monthly calendar. The varied job responsibilities she handles makes the children's department of the public library an exciting place to visit for kids of all ages.