Emergency Emergency - Give Me a Program

Due to a staff emergency on the day of a program, we were faced with needing to hatch a new program with two hours notice.  Did we have to sweat?  Not too much.  We just jumped in and created one.

We are running a twice-a-week series over five weeks for school-agers called Warp Speed Space Adventures. Since we don't advertise what we do in each session except in general terms for the whole series, we weren't forced to stick with any particular program.  So what did we do?

A couple of staffers put our heads together for ten minutes and - voila! We decided to take a space trip that ends in a crash landing. We grabbed a DVD off the shelf,  "A Traveler's Guide to the Planets", a cool National Geographic entry that has great pictures and special effects and queued up the Saturn sequence. Our teen volunteer was ready to flick lights on and off crazily at a signal to simulate a crash. 

When kids entered, we gave them each a "space sickness" bag (a gift bag with star crepe paper tied around it) and talked about our coming space journey.  We let them know they could use the bag if they felt sick. We mimed putting on our spacesuits and why we needed them and then turned off the lights. After about 10 minutes we "crashed" onto one of Saturn's moons.  We checked to make sure everyone was ok. Those who indicated bumps or bruisers got a "space bandaid" (a planet sticker- once we started handing those out, many more injuries were reported).

We decided our moon was hot and dry so we would need shelter and robot help.  Thanks to Pinterest, I had found some great robot cards that we printed out and cut. Kids could choose a robot helper to be their friend and companion for their survival. Then we broke out the Legos and let kids build shelters until we could get our spaceship fixed.  And we still had some astronaut freeze dried food and broke that out for our survivors. Kids -and parents - really enjoyed themselves.

All programs don't need uber thought and planning to create fun. And sometimes what happens because of an emergency proves to be the most fun of all.


I Gotta Tip for You

I really love lists that librarians put together to guide, warn, express exasperation or otherwise share their wisdom/experience/ideas/disdain. Here are a few recent gems:

Screwy Decimal's Top 10 Tips for Librarians. Rita knows, follow her sage words.

Magpie Librarian's Please Don't Say This to a Librarian . One my favorite parts of this post is the clueless commentator who. just. does. not. get. it.

Edudemics 20 Twitter Chats Every Librarian Should Know About. Inquiring minds who like to chat about libraries will want to stop here.

Early literacy storytime guru Mel at Mel's Desk shares her Ten Favorite Baby Storytime Plans. I slavishly follow Mel's suggestions. Always. So should you. She's one smart, creative cookie.

For Those About to Mock details its list of 14 classic Newbery misses. Thank god, my year isn't mentioned ;->

An oldie but goodie: My Life Scoops 10 Cool Things for People Who Read (Real) Books. If it's bling and it's books I'm there!

You got some lists to share?

Image: 'Tipping Pointhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/77967821@N00/4608798120


Call Me Indispensable

I've been thinking lately about what I consider the differences between great co-workers and colleagues and ones not so much. It doesn't always boil down to who is the hardest worker, or the most astute or the most verbal.

For me, it is often the person who is inquisitive enough to look for the unseen, to explore in the seldom looked-in nooks and crannies and the ones who look beyond their job description to discover all they can about the work (whether job or committee work) and the place they work in. Their job description - whether at the library or working on committees or in an association - is really only an outline that frames the larger discovery and work they are involved in. And they are willing to stand aside from expected outcomes and behavior to discover and participate in helping service and issues evolve to a better place. These people become indispensable to the organization.

What the deuce am I talking about? Here are a few entirely pedestrian examples to illustrate that "indispensability" difference:

Many years ago, a woman in a wheelchair came to the check-out area of the very small library I worked at. Our bathrooms on the main floor were not accessible at that time. The desk staffer who had worked at the library for many years suggested she use the restroom at the nearby fast food restaurant. What was confounding and amazing to me was that we had accessible restrooms in the lower level near the public meeting rooms and staff lounge. But she had never been in them and so didn't direct our patron there. Certainly a lack of training was in play but I would also suggest a lack of curiosity and taking responsibility for one's own knowledge of the building played another huge part in this ickily memorable incident.

I have also worked with someone who began her career at the library almost a quarter century ago in basically a clerk's position. Her natural curiosity led her to learn her job duties and then continue to look for other learning opportunities within the department and library. She always said yes when asked to take on a new duty. As she added to her expertise over the years and added job duties, she became the go-to person for any number of staffers. She now heads the department she started in and supervises her former manager. She is someone who looks to solve problems and say yes when people come to her and she still keeps learning. I call that indispensable.

Whether it's being willing to look for ways to collaborate to solve a problem; having the moxie to learn what's tucked away in storage that can be used;  happy to share thoughts and plans instead of keeping them close to the chest; willing to go the extra mile ("No problem, we can try that"); ready to raise a hand rather than duck their head when work needs doing - these are the people I like to have working alongside me in any situation. They are "there" for me and ultimately there for the public or the membership.

It's something I aspire to in return. I think it would be good to be indispensable!

Image: 'Heroes'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/22421294@N00/266143521


Love Me Some Weekend Work

In order to get a few days off mid-week to do some research, I did some shift trading and found myself working three weekends in a row.  And as I worked, I realized how much I like those weekend shifts. Why?

*Each weekend day is a four hour shift - two people split the duties: one goes 9-1 on Saturdays; the other works 1-5 on Saturday and Sunday. These are short, quick shifts that are easily worked and still leave plenty of time for weekend fun.

*It's all desk, all the time. I gear up for having a good day with patrons and for the most part I do. I get into my Wakanheza place and launch my service self from there. Even if I have to get tough, I have a smile and joke in reserve.

*Because of the pretty high usage and good pace, I only plan service to the public and not projects while working. So with my goal to serve the patrons, I ineveitably accomplish my work. If I do manage to get through emails or finish a report or design a handout because it's slow, that's a bonus - but not an expected result.

*As a manager, these are great days to work - lots of hands-on, sleeves-up reference and reader's advisory but no calls to negotiate, mediate, problem solve for staffers within the department or around the library - we are all too busy giving primary on-desk service (or having great days off!). This unadulterated face time with kids and families is golden.

*Weekends are great times to be up and about from the desk - straightening shelves and displaying books; spot weeding collections; chatting with kids and adults using the room; helping with catalog searches.  There are fewer phone calls so being tied to the desk isn't necessary and the pace is definitely one that keeps me moving.

*I get to check in throughout the shift on Twitter with the #saturdaylibrarian and #sundaylibrarian hashtags that connect me with colleagues from all types of libraries. Sometimes we comment on our days; sometimes we help each other with reference queries and sometimes we count down the time and patron quirks.

I don't think I'm Pollyanna-ish or see the weekend world through rose-colored glasses or live the lemons/lemonade paradigm. I just genuinely like those Saturday/Sunday shifts. It could be I'm just weird. Anybody else weird like me?

Image: 'It's here!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/94812957@N00/341430448


ALA Wrap-up

Stop on by the ALSC Blog for my conference highlights. I am guest blogging today along with lots of my colleagues on our impressions of conference, reports of programs and events and much more. Be there or be square!