Ask a Storytime Ninja: Outreach Gone Bad

Welcome to the latest Ask a Storytime Ninja! You can learn how to participate here.


I am often asked to be a guest speaker at family resource centres, daycares, etc. Today I spoke to a group of parents that were fairly rude– talked to each other the whole time I was there; let their child scream loudly for a very long time… I have already told the centre that I might not be back as a speaker: I spend a fair amount of time preparing, plus I drive tot their site. This amount of rudeness crosses a line for me. What do YOU do?”


Lisa (@lmulvenna), 12+ years as a librarian from Michigan, says:

I think that the big thing missing in this situation was that they left you on your own.  If you are going to put in your time to come out and speak at various locations, then there should be a representative from the organization in the room.  While I will start a presentation with a  few basic rules (such as turn off cell phones), it is the organization’s job to police the crowd.  I think of it like a big program at the library.  I would never leave a performer in a large room of people by themselves, not because they can’t handle crowd control, but that I want the audience to have the best performance possible.  It is my job to ask noisy people to quiet down or to direct parents with crying children.

Thanks, Lisa! What do YOU think? Add your thoughts in the comments.


About Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

Posted on December 4, 2013, in Ask a Storytime Ninja. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a frustrating time- there are two thoughts about this- I have done outreach with a group of unruly students and shared the experience with our department head- she will not book us at that school again, unless the teachers are present in the room.
    On the other hand- even though the crowd was loud and chatting, I was still paid for my time and hopefully made a connection or two. Sometimes you just need to keep talking and try to out shout the crowd.

  2. I completely agree with Lisa and it seems the problem is getting worse. We have to tell parents (?) not to leave their 6 yr old at the library! One of my storytimes is in a room with a cement floor and metal chairs. Seems that its ok to let the 1 yr old push chairs around because “he’s entertaining himself and that’s good, right?” Wow. I have had 4 yr old turn to mom (who’s talking) and say, “Mom! I can’t hear!” Again, wow.

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