Library Life: 3 Programs, 0 Attendance

Library Life: 3 Programs, 0 Attendance

To me, one of the most exciting and stressful parts of being a librarian is in-house programming. Coming up with new ideas that I think my community will love is an amazing feeling, but the actual execution can leave me feeling all sorts of ways, and as of lately (and as the kids would say), I am straight up not having a good time.


Well, over the past week, I’ve had 3 programs – 2 baby times and a family story time about conservation. However, for all 3 programs, no one showed up.


One of the most difficult things is to not take it personally. I took a lot of time to set up the community room to make it perfect, planned books, songs, rhymes – the works, then eagerly waited only to have no one show. I felt silly and embarrassed as I walked back to my coworkers who wanted to know how things went.


I felt like such a huge failure – even more so by the third time. What was I doing wrong?

Families wanted a Baby Time, so I started doing Baby Time.

My boss wanted me to do a story time about conservation and “going green”, so I did as she asked. 

I spoke eagerly about these programs to the families, picked fun, engaging books and activities, and poured my heart and soul into every little thing.

Yet, there I was, plugging “0” into my stats. 3 times. 


Parks and Rec fans, remember when Ben Wyatt was dubbed a “human disaster”? That’s about how I felt.


Enough whining. The thing is, I knew this was a job hazard of sorts when I made that jump into the world of librarianship. Sometimes people just don’t come to your programs. Maybe they wanted to but couldn’t, or maybe they just had no interest and had other things that sounded better.

It happens. It sucks! But it happens, and dwelling on how it feels only adds further feelings of hopelessness and job related stress and anxiety.

I know it was silly of me to start questioning my skills as a librarian, but it was hard not to. I had to nudge my feelings to the side and start to think about what I could do to get attendance to my programs, but I also took some time to remind myself that I have had successful programs, and that every week, I have a fantastic turnout for my all ages story time.

Some things I thought about:

  • Is Baby Time interfering with nap time or play dates?
  • Was Friday really the best day for a story time? Especially mid-afternoon?
  • Is Tuesday just not a good day for Baby Time?

Small steps, but I’d rather take those than wallow self-pity. I don’t have all the answers to fix my programs, but I have some ideas for the future – ones that I’m excited about, and I know my families will be too.

But also, I found it really important to remind myself that I am in no way a failure of a librarian or person. I just had a few rough days of programming. It happens.


I’m an anxious person, like really anxious. I have a very difficult time keeping my anxiety from impacting my every day life and preventing me from actually caring about myself. I’m hard on myself, a perfectionist, very analytical of everything, and I’m horribly sensitive. 

I’m proud of myself for acknowledging my feelings of failure, but also for letting it go and focusing on accepting that it was a bad couple of weeks. It’s not easy, but wow did it help. Writing about this wasn’t easy. I feel a little embarrassed and disappointed, but in case anyone else in the library world (or any other job) has had these feelings lately, I just wanted you to know…SAME. You’re not alone. You’re not a failure. It’s okay to have ideas and programs that flop. 


Here are just a few of the songs that I listen to when I need a pick-me-up. I find them to be motivating! Maybe you’ll like them too. 🙂


The Middle – Jimmy Eat World


Walking in My Sleep – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness


Believer – American Authors

Pride – American Authors

Underdog – Imagine Dragons

12 thoughts on “Library Life: 3 Programs, 0 Attendance

  1. It will be ok! You are an awesome librarian! It takes some time to build a following, and new programs and schedules are part of the growth process. You rock at what you do! Don’t ever doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m very sorry to hear that happened this happened, Syl. It made me feel kind of upset for you while reading parts of this post.

    But you’re absolutely right to try and focus on the positives. I’m think you are brilliant and I hope things will get better soon.

    I’m a perfectionist, too.. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no, sorry to hear that… It’s hard not to take it personally isn’t it?
    People are weird, they ask for something and they notice when it’s not there but they don’t actually appreciate when it’s there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re not a failure! When I was working at a public library I also had my programming woes. It’s one of the main reasons I am happy to be working in Special Collections now. I don’t have to worry about attendance or coming up with engaging ideas for people.

    I give you so much credit for taking on so many programs! Good luck and I’m sure you’ll have a really popular program soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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