At my library, breaks are extremely important. Not only do they allow you to reenergize before the next story time session, but this is when I fit in professional development, weeding, special projects, and those thousand tasks that I just don't have time for during a story time week. We run our story times in 5-6 week sessions and have a 3 week break afterwards. This isn't exact-sometimes around the holidays, the break ends up a bit longer. In 2014, we will have story time for 30 weeks (6 5 week sessions) and will be on break for 22 weeks. We've tried different methods of breaking up the sessions, but this is what works for us and our community.
Below shows the results of us asking, "Do you take breaks in between sessions, or weeks off from regular weekly story times?"
Do you have a story time break?
Story time is my favorite part of my job!
I get that. I love story time too. I am really excited when it starts. It allows me to meet all of the families at a young age. I also love coming up with new ways to promote early literacy. On the other hand, isn't there anything else that you would like to try? My breaks are when I can pull out dance parties, toddler crafts, and iPad programming. These are the things that don't fit in the regular schedule, but I still love to do them.
If I stop doing story time, the families won't come back.
I get it. This is a legitimate concern, especially for smaller libraries. We have always been lucky and breaks have figured into our schedule, but we have fiddled with lengths. One year we had month-long breaks (one month on and one month off). I thought our parents were going to throw a fit. By the time you remember to come to story time again, the session is over. We went back to three week breaks because that is how long most of our books circulate. Also, we are able to remind parents in the last week that they are able to register for the next session in another week.
For those libraries who just aren't ready to try a break yet, why don't you do a couple of weeks of traditional story time, then a week of early literacy stations, followed by a week of toddler crafts? Keep it at the same time, but change it up a bit. Story times are extremely important for early literacy and libraries, but so are crafts where kids can work on fine motor skills which will prepare them to write or early literacy stations that show parents how to replicate the effort at home.
Keep in mind, though, that these are just my thoughts and opinions. You will have to do what is best for both you and your community. You know what you can handle on a given week and what will or will not work.