People Are Being Practical Day

I love it when my reader is full of great juicy posts.  Today, everyone has given mounds of practicality to my eyes and brain. I could link to lots but I am going to hold it down to save the time of the reader.

On Reading Everywhere, Allison graces us with 5 awesome tips on getting more reading done that don't include dangerous ideas like "Hold and read a book while driving".

Sara over at the always deep and always straight up Bryce Don't Play tells how she has crafted an amazing set of tours - oh, I mean, field trip adventures - complete with scripts that help co-workers be amazing.

Mel helps us embrace our inner muse at storytime with a post at Mel's Desk on getting into it all the way as a storytime presenter.

Horn Book's Roger Sutton who certainly needs no introduction (or linking from me I imagine) has a truly funny, truly short post up at Read Roger about QR code-ishism that had me guffawing.

At Stephen's Lighthouse, all my daydreaming is clearly paying off in making me smarter. Many, of course, would dispute this. What's that? Eh? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.

Image: 'Nerdhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/76261353@N00/7491311


Sales People and Sadness

I no longer see book salespeople at the library.  It's not because I'm mean, icky or horrid.  I am just done.

In the halcyon days of my youth (well, young professional career, in any case), things were different. We did most work by hand: writing out overdues, book orders, hand cataloging, etc. We did have a  slick little Gaylord check-out machine - we inserted the book card and it took a "bite" out of the card and stamped a date automatically (aaaah, technology). There was no online world and connectivity that showed us bookcovers or instant reviews if the journals hadn't routed to us yet.

When salespeople came, they brought actual books that we could look through and decide on...and not have to write order cards for. Time saving! The best ones brought news of colleagues and libraries from their routes. Good gossip!

But things have changed for us. Over the long years of my career I discovered a couple of things:
  • we often over-purchased or brought more unneeded material when we were face-to-face chatting with a person than facing a silent page of book reviews.
  • we found less need for prebound materials which were a big item in the catalog of salespeople. Prebound chapter books had bindings that long outlasted the tissue-thin, acidy paper; picture books with popular characters long outlasted the popularity - paperbacks lasted as long as the trend and we could buy 2-3 for the same price.
  • there was a plethora of unreviewed and poorly reviewed material and remainders that turned out to be shelf-sitters with our families.
  • with our ordering on-line, automated payments and invoicing, access to good discounts through jobbers, ability to "see" materials virtually and read reviews online and overall automation, buying from salespeople created way more staff work than we could justify.
Today a salesperson cold-called...actually stopped in personally, only to hear that we were really truly done.  It was a difficult conversation for us both and he mentioned that this is hard on salespeople.

I know. I wish it were different. To me, it mirrors the struggles of where print books and econtent are going.  One is phasing out while the other is in ascendence. It makes me sad. But it is library life.

Image: 'Ojos Grandeshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/62237714@N00/277389539


PLA Play

So, as an inveterate ALA attendee, I must admit the same cannot be said for my PLA involvement. I have been a long time PLA member but not as dedicated in heading out to the conferences. I think I know why.

I am a process junkie and committee work and being part of making change happen has always held a great deal of excitement for me. PLA lacks that component. Lots of programs, lots of exhibits, lots of time for hallway conversations with public library colleagues, lots of handouts available that can be downloaded or perused online - plenty of that at PLA. Meetings, not so much.

I like the programs well enough even if, like this year, there was an overabundance of early literacy programs and far fewer elementary school aged stuff (it was there but barely). It stretched me to seek out programs in other tracks and enjoyed those lots as well as enjoying the tweets from sessions I couldn't be at.

Still, though, no meetings. Well, almost. Thank goodness one of the vendors invited a bunch of us to pick our brains on early literacy. I learned alot from my colleagues. And another resourceful colleague pulled together a very ad hoc gathering of youth librarians interested in discussing SLP programs. Hurray!!

So I got my meeting fix after all, got a little Philly history and cheesesteak fix and have had a great time talking to colleagues. Oh, and my good and clever friends who found a loft to rent in Old City that made "going to conference" a little more relaxing and a lot more fun than usual. All in all, not bad.


Creating a Reading Environment

I really love the post over at Literacy Launchpad today on creating reading environments that encourage kids to engage with print.  From books, apps, leap pads, library programs, writing paper and pens, she makes sure that her kids have opportunities to engage in literacy.

Without consciously planning for this, I note some of the ways we have incorporated this in our Children's area.  We have multiple special theme displays; lots of face out shelving; books on our "reading boat"; preschool  literacy activities that promote letter recognition, counting, playing with story; a "Story Action Pod" that calls kids to read and write; Early Literacy computers and an area with hands on Boredom Busters that includes multiple ways to engage kids with play and print.

How about you?  What does your library do to create a "reading library" that invites casual interactions with print?


Playing Stealthy Games at the Library

When we set up our summer reading program we like to create games that lead kids to different parts of the collection.  It's our sneaky way of connecting kids and books together. Kids who might never take a recommended book from our hand are wild about this "stealth" style of recommendation.

One all-time favorite game is the Mystery Bag Game where we bag up recommended books and let kids choose one blindly, check it out and tell us how they liked it.  It allows us to highlight fiction and non-fiction and it works great.

Another easy game is a jar filled with little slips with Dewey numbers on them. We ask the kids to pull out a number, find a book in that number, check it out and tell us how they like it when they return.  We choose numbers with large amounts of books (so 599s; 796.3s; 811s; 921s; 560s; 620s etc) so kids have a wide choice to find something they like.  We also change the numbers periodically as those areas empty out to give other areas of the non-fiction a chance.  We always hear from parents and kids that they have discovered new subject areas.

We also sometimes will set up a kids lit or fairy tale trivia game for kids. We'll come up with easy, medium or challenging questions to accommodate different age groups - we want all kids to be successful. We have three different questions per week and change the questions weekly. Kids adore it.

We also have an Early Literacy Area and Story Action Pod area that we encourage kids to play at and tell us when they are done.  While I've been on my summer library program workshop tours in Wisconsin and Kansas I heard from alot of the librarian staff on other games they use successfully - scavenger hunts; a "Spin the Wheel" to do different fun activities; searching the room for a hidden literary character; and more. Those ideas are contained in my Idea Sparklers posts, one of which can be found here!

What stealth games do you use in your library to lead kids to books and more reading?

Image: 'Three Wise Ninjas'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/34887679@N00/5570900386


When Scout Troops Come Knocking at the Library Door

Scout troops always present an interesting challenge when they contact us for a visit. The leaders are trying to have the kids complete a communications or reading or library or "?" badge - they often seem to be unclear on what they want/need.  The tours need to be scheduled in the late afternoon or evening when we tend to be either busiest or most lightly staffed. The kids are usually a little wild when they get together and the leaders a bit at a loss on how to reign in the natural exuberence of boys or girls not in school.

We have developed a tour that is fun and informative for the kids and inevitably helps them with their library visit. We usually start off gathering the kids for a very brief introduction to the library. At that time, if we can, we storytell either a funny or scary story for the kids to establish a rapport with them. It is always based on a kid's book so we can make the connection with them that the books in the library contain great stuff.

Since many of the kids on these visits have been to the library before on with their class or family, we usually next go to a "background" tour of the library. The outside bookdrop with hydraulic lift; Tech Services; our server room; back storage shelves; basement areas and elevator. While in Tech we chat a bit about the preparation that books need - cataloging into a collection; dewey numbers and barcodes.

Then we catalog the kids!  We ask them for a favorite subject or two, pick one and write a dewey number on a sticker and stick it on them. We also stick on a barcode. Then we head into the non-fiction and show the kids where we would shelve them. A wonderful result is that kids have already told us a favorite subject or interest so they head right back over to that area to find books they love and can relate to once the formal part of the tour is done.

We no longer sweat when the phone rings with a scout leader on the other end.  We got the goods!


ALA Members, I'm Talkin' To YOU!!

I often have to listen to people saying that they don't "know enough about candidates" to vote in ALA elections. This, from librarians!?!?!?!  I tear my hair out.

Having run for numerous offices/committees in ALA/ALSC, I know darn well  candidates submit statements, lists of committee work and achievements. Clearly people don't read them.

This is not a popularity contest...although those of us who blog have a leg up in terms of "voter recognition".  This is an opportunity for us to look at what candidates are bringing to the table and deciding whether they have the goods to do a good job on behalf of libraries, on behalf of youth.

Luckily, no one has an excuse anymore.

ALA has produced an election guide to 2012 elections. It's a mere 14 pages and you might learn something. Take a few minutes, ok? If you are voting for Council and you care about youth issues, look for candidates who are members of ALSC, YALSA and AASL. Look for folks with strong IF ties.  If they blog, do they have anything intelligent to say?

If you are voting for ALSC,  YALSA and/or AASL offices, what the deuce have they done?  Have they contributed in a way that makes them seem like they can navigate the bloodsport of board politics? Do they have a variety of experiences in the division?

If you are voting for media award committee folks, do they have reviewing experience or book discussion experience (whether in print or blog)?  Please don't just pick the name you know. Really look and give a chance to the person that may not be on the lips of all but will bring solid experience to the table of book/media discussion.

You can do it. I know you can. Right? Please don't disappoint me.

Image: 'did you?'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/7157508@N04/3002643292

Are You a Librarian Superhero?

What?!?!  But of course you are! For those of you who remember, Gale/Cengage last year premiered a "Are You a Librarian Superhero" contest that resulted in four librarians being cartoon-ized and featured on a rad lunchbox. Well, the contest is back (sans lunchbox but still with a cartoon superhero result). Read Gale's press release below and nominate a colleague, friend -or yourself. After all, everybody is a star baby....

Farmington Hills, Mich., Feb. 27, 2012 – Gale, part of Cengage Learning, announced the launch of the second annual Are You a Librarian Superhero? contest to recognize the often heroic efforts put forth by librarians around the country. Looking to build on the success of last year’s contest, during which over 800 nominations were received, Gale is again calling on everyone – fellow librarians, library patrons, students and school administrators – to nominate a superhero librarian who is making a real difference for their library and community. A panel of Cengage Learning employees will choose the top four superhero librarians who will be recognized at the American Library Association’s annual meeting. The winners will have a cartoon superhero character created in their likeness and, in the Gale booth at ALA, will be commemorated with cartoon figures, a comic strip and a celebration.

What:     Gale Are You a Librarian Superhero? Contest. Submissions need to include basic information about their librarian – full name, library name, and most importantly, what is super about them.

Who:      All public, special, school and academic librarians in the U.S. and Canada, and the patrons, colleagues and friends who believe they are superheroes.

When:    Call for nominations is open February 1- March 31, 2012. Winners will be announced at the Gale booth during the American Library Association’s annual meeting on June 21-26, 2012 in Anaheim, CA.

Where:   Librarians can nominate themselves or their peers by logging on here 

Why:      Librarians go to extraordinary lengths every day for their patrons. To celebrate those feats of greatness and encourage others, Gale will honor librarians everywhere by unmasking just a few of the superheroes among us. 

Details:  Please contact Kristina Massari for more information or with questions about the contest.

Thanks to Stephen Abrams for the tip!

Picture from Gale/Cengage's 2011 contest


Idea Sparklers 8 - Fun Notes from the Field

On Friday, I wrapped up my first week of Kansas workshops with a warm welcome from my library peeps at the North Central Kansas Library System headquartered in Manhattan in the beautiful Flint Hills region of the state. Here are some of their ideas to spark your creativity!

Parents as Teachers Programs - this group comes into the library and presents playgroups and activities. It is a perfect pre-literacy partnership.

Learning at the Library series - 4H kids are invited to give their presentations at the library, usually 3-4 kids during an hour. They include a wide range of topics and activities, from dance to information on animals.

Live Animal programs - a story is combined with a visit from a live animal and its caretaker. Lots of information is shared about the animal.

Children's Art Displays - the schools provide art on a bimonthly basis to display. Suggestions were also made to schedule an "art opening" and invite parents and kids to make it a special event.

Read to Your Baby - local pediatricians approached the library and asked if they'd make bookmarks with library info and appropriate books for kids at all the different well baby visits in a young child's life. The partnership was so successful that the doctors now donate funds to help support the SLP program at the library.

Facebook Welcomes - the librarian visits the page of the local military base and when people comment they are new, she invites them to use the library. (That's what I call outreach!)

Quilt Show - he quilters offered to display quilts and they kicked off a display with quilting activities for all ages. Very successful collaboration.

Early Literacy Station - book extension activities are made available to kids that promote different aspects of the six early literacy skills. For instance, with the book Dragon Dancing, there are silk scarves to dance with and masks to play with; rhyming word cards; and letters on dragon scales. For If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, kids had "ingredients" (styrofoam rectangles in butter wrappers) to use to make a "cookie batter".

Annual City-Wide Garage Sale - the library makes sure they participate with a booksale that day so they are in the thick of the fun.

Read to Rover - popular weekly program with very little work and enthusiastic handlers and kids.

After-Hours Teen Program - usually start at 5:30 (doors close at 6pm). Hide-and-seek; golf; sardines (hide-and-seek backwards); wii; trivia game plus pizza and soda. The kids love it. Usually wraps up around 10pm.

Monthly Class Visits to the Library - from a nearby school. Usually the library presents some short, fun activity like hockey with bent drinking straws and cut off paper cups for pucks and staff in hockey jerseys. They tell the kids that this is a special activity time different from quieter times when they come in after school.

More in the Idea Sparkler series here : 1  2  3  4  5  6  7   9   10  11

Image: 'Delerium'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124348109@N01/23621379


Idea Sparklers 7 - Fun Notes from the Field

These are little idea tidbits that have been successfully done at libraries of all sizes in the South Central Kansas Library System. Perhaps some of these will spark ideas for you to develop new programs and initiatives.

Follow a Veterinarian - a local vet donates a half day for a lucky child to observe and shadow them as they work.  It even includes letting the kids observe surgery if they'd like and help in the recovery room (lots of petting).

Knitting Club - parent wanted to start a club so they provided the instruction and materials and worked with kids - and adults - to help them learn. What started out as a six week program was so popular that it continued for a semester.

Creative Bookmark Contest - offered annually. Advertised at the schools. The winning designs are printed up as bookmarks and sent to the child's school as well as given out at the library.

Read to Rover - therapy dogs from the Kennel Club once a month. Kids are given punch cards. If they attend the program three times, they receive a book.

Baby Bags - a bag with early lit. info, a special baby library card registration (to help track who gets cards) and a book are given out to new parents.  At one time t-shirts were included with a library barcode on the back and the phrase, "I'm a Reading Baby".

Paper Chain - as kids finish reading they can add a link for each hour read on one chain or a link for books read on another chain that are on opposite sides of the room. Every 25th link is black so it's easier to count the total (because of course kids always ask!)

Read Your Way to Movies - a book is paired with the DVD in a kit. When they are checked out, the patron can put their name in a drawing to win a movie night at a theater complete with popcorn.

Pages Prowls - the library cat, named "Pages", is featured on small handouts that ask for donations for a special cause (school supplies or food donations) and these little sheets are passed out at high schools. Kids pass them along as well and their is a huge response of adults and kids who don't usually use the library coming in to drop off donations and staying to check out materials.

Laptop Prize - a donor donated three laptops for SLP prizes - decided to make it a family prize and have everyone ready. For kids a chapter equals a book.

Bed in the Library - put a blow-up bed in front of storytime chair and make it up with covers and stuffed animals. Then read bedtime stories and invite kids to play parts from The Napping House or Ten in the Bed on the bed.

Fancy Nancy Tea Party- multi-generational participation. The Red Hat Society provides the tea sets and food; kids come dressed up; cheerleaders are on hand to paint fingernails, do hairstyles and make-up.

Annual Tea Party Fundraiser - each year a new theme and people bring their own decorations to decorate their table with that theme (say, Wizard of Oz). There is music and a suggested donation since this is used as a library fundraiser.

Campout! - with this year's theme, as a reward at back to school time, have a camp-out and campfire and stories.

February = I Love to Read - hold events all month long highlighting books, reading and loving the library.

Origami World - each staff member commits to learning one origami shape - Origami Yoda is a must -. Then kids go around from staffer to staffer and learn to make origami form and do as many as they want.

A Country, A Recipe - for last year's One World, Many Stories theme, a book was picked about each country to share weekly and then the kids made a recipe from that country. At the end, staff made a recipe book for the kids.

Night at the Zoo - the librarian and kids slept over at the monkey house at the zoo. The kids made a youtube video of the experience.

Read more  in the Idea Sparklers series here:   1  2  3  4  5  6  8  9   10  11

Image: 'Lume'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/28998362@N00/5158810718


Idea Sparklers 6 - Fun Notes from the Field

My colleagues from the Northeast Kansas Library System headquartered in Lawrence had fountains of ideas for programming fun that works for them. This multi-type system has libraries serving major urban and suburban areas, medium size communities and small rural communities as well.

Poptropica Program - this popular online game has islands created by authors. The kids vote on their favorite author islands and then a program is created with the kids based on that author and their works. Very popular.

High School Girl Book Club - staff guides the book selection and discussion. There is always an activity associated with each month's program - Hunger Games, read and discuss book and go to movie together; Valentine book discussion and go out to dinner. Began with a non-fiction book on volunteerism and it grew from there.

Lego Club - received donations and went to garage sales. Held once-a-month afterschool for 90 minutes. Lego bricks are put out on sheets and kids free build. Kids help with clean-up and their creations are awesome.

"Semester" Programs- DIY programs are run for a semester once a week after school. I Spy books and scavenger sheet; Tangrams; -Ology books.

Bats in the Courthouse - Kids go on a library-sponsored fill-in the blank scavenger hunt in the Courthouse which gets them to different offices and spaces. Once the courthouse had bats in the belfry so that is the final destination where kids find a rubber bat.

Teen Trivia Night -  kids create the questions based on contemporary and classic books; play pictionary; charades. Kids have questions and three lifelines. Teens loved it)

History Mystery - a local 5th grade history teacher and local history buff annually makes up a local history sheet and the kids have to research it (as does the library staff!).  The kids flock to the library and discover amazing resources.

After-Hours Library Hide-and-Seek - Middle schoolers come into the library and can play hide and seek. A few spots are off-limits. Younger kids who play get flashlights. Librarian gives kids checks for bad behavior. 3 checks and parents get a call. Enough of a deterrent that it keeps the kids playing well!

Kindergarten Invites - Each year in May, every K class comes to the library, gets an introduction to the library and a library card. So popular, the preschool classes are now scheduled to come as well.

Work with the Scouts - there are library and reading badges and it is a great way to reach out to groups. Read a story,  have kids howl like a wolf, make bookmarks, catalog the kids and barcode them and shelve them in an activity.

Reading Thermometer - as recently seen in a VOYA article (cheap things to do for fun). Set a goal of number of pages read, have a thermometer and fill it in as the kids go to the goal. Perfect for all ages.

Nursery Rhyme Olympics - do activities based on nursery rhymes: Jack B. Nimble Jump; Diddle Diddle Dumpling One Shoe Race, etc.

Holiday Gifts-in-a-Jar - Have a few stations with dry ingredients and instructions (brownies; gingerbread, etc) and measuring spoons/cups and let kids create a gift. Stickers are there for the jar as well. Another library does this program with bath salts.

More in the Idea Sparkler series here:  1  2  3  4  5  7  8  9 10  11

Image: 'I've found some...!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/12142259@N00/3880179635