Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Hate Story Time, but . . .

It's politically incorrect for a librarian to admit that he/she/it hates story times, but I do. At my small branch it only happens once a week; in larger locations it can happen for 3 hours a day 3 times a week. But I'll tell you why I hate story times. You can sum it up in two words: Screaming Babies.

I'm no advocate of library as Temple of Silence. Alas, those days are gone forever. But I'm no fan of screaming babies either. In fact, their shrill screeches take me as close to homicidal fury as anything. Well-behaved children are a pleasure to see and to serve. Screaming babies aren't getting anything out of their experience at the library and are driving me mad.

Story times take up a disproportionate amount of the Children's Librarian's time. They love to spend hours weeding through the picture books, laying in a sound track, lining up tickets to the show. When their audience arrives they take over the meeting room and everyone has a great time, with the exception of the kids who didn't really want stories at 10 in the morning.

You know who really loves story times? It's not the children. It's the care-givers who bring the children. For half an hour they get to relapse to childhood themselves. Now that they've grown up, they understand the stories. They can appreciate the performance of the librarian telling the story--and a performance it is, complete with sound effects, pantomime, puppets, and colorful illlustrations. It's like a trip to the theater, and it's free.

So, let's call it by its right name. Story-time for Care-givers. The children hardly remember and don't really appreciate what's going on. The caregivers do--this is a half hour of sanity treatment for them, while they watch their little charges drive the librarian crazy instead.

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