Category Archives: Librarianship

My 12th Summer Reading Program

It’s really hard to believe, but I’m getting ready to host my twelfth Ice Cream Social, and then my twelfth summer reading program.  And this is the twelfth year that I’ve hosted the elementary school classes to tell them about the summer reading program.  How is this possible?

As I’ve shown the classes bookplates from past summer reading programs, I’ve realized that some of those bookplate-earners are now graduated from high school…or even college.  There is an entirely new generation of children coming to the children’s room, and an entirely new generation of parents who bring them to the library.  Most of the parents who come in to the children’s room now are millennials; there are very few parents from my generation anymore.

I like to think that I still look the same, though.  Haven’t aged a day, right?  🙂  And I’m still looking forward to summer reading, just as I did that first summer.  I can’t wait to introduce the sensory playtime, and to run our cool in-house programs, including an origami open house, science playground, and tape games.

I love that my job stays relevant, fresh, and challenging from year to year, and that there is never a dull moment.  And, most importantly, that it’s terrific fun working with the kids who come to the library, and getting to know their parents.  What a great career I landed in!

Nine years!

And the nine year anniversary of my arrival at the library has come (and gone) – happy anniversary to me!

A great way to celebrate this anniversary: the addition of a fantastic new program to the library calendar.   Book Buddies began last Wednesday, and is my most favorite library program ever.  Teen volunteers in grades 7 and up are paired with a younger buddy in grades 1 to 4 for shared reading and word games.  Last week, the inaugural week, everyone was having such a good time that I had to gently remind them that the one hour session had ended…five minutes ago.  The looks of complete surprise at a whole hour having passed already were testament to the fun that both big and little buddies had reading and playing together.

My greatest thanks to Jennifer for finding this awesome program.  In September, I said to her that we needed something new, could she see what she could find…and she came back with documentation and guidelines from other libraries that had already run successful Book Buddies programs.  Jennifer pointed out that this is exactly the kind of program that we need to be running, and she was so very right.

And one other new thing that we have added: a library Tumblr page.  I really like Tumblr for the library’s purposes – it’s much cleaner than Facebook, and you have more control over how your posts look (including fonts and such).  I won’t be replacing my personal blog page with Tumblr, but it has the right combo of hipness and accessibility for the purposes of the children’s room.  Here’s the link, if you’d like to take a look.

Nine years, almost

As summer winds down and fall approaches, I am reminded that my anniversary date of starting at the library is in November.  As of early November, I will have been at the library for nine years – wow.

When he learned of my library job nine years ago, one of Jim’s friends made a prediction: “She’ll be at that job for the rest of her career.”  I think Jim’s friend is right – it’s a great place to work, with great coworkers, great patrons, and an awesome building, and I’ve finally gotten all the systems (storytimes, collection, etc.) to the level of excellence that I’ve desired.  Time to enjoy all that excellence, while I work on new cool things to bring to my job.  I won’t rest on my laurels, that’s not my style, but I certainly plan on enjoying those laurels while I add programming and increase the excellence of the collection.  Happy almost nine years to me, and here’s to many, many more!

Dream

The other night I had the weirdest dream…a library dream, of course.

I dreamt that a library patron called the children’s room and asked me to pull a large selection of DVDS – chosen according to some odd guidelines dictated to me over the phone – and then, once I’d pulled everything for her, that I deliver them to her house.

So I pulled  a large stack of what were now CDs (who knows why it switched from DVDS), and proceeded to open each CD case and take all the CDs out.  As each disk came out of its case, it turned into an ordinary green pea.  Logically, I put all of the peas into a bowl, then went to eat dinner with my family.  I might even have eaten a couple of the peas/CDs…that part is a little fuzzy.

A few minutes into eating dinner, my mother turned to me and said, “Don’t you need to deliver those CDs to that lady?”  Panic set in, and I rushed over to the bowl of peas and realized that before I could deliver anything, I needed to get the peas back into the CD cases.  But the peas were just green garden peas, and weren’t labelled like the CDs had been, so how was I to know which pea went into which case?

I contemplated eating the peas to figure out what they each were, but realized that would be counterproductive, so then I thought about gently tasting each one to determine what music was on each.  And I considered just jamming random peas into CD cases and delivering them that way.

When I woke up from this very very long dream, I still hadn’t figured out a solution.  Somewhere in my dream world, there are still green peas that need to be converted back into CDs and put into their cases and delivered to an imaginary library patron…

Stuffed Animal Sleepover

I first heard about libraries doing “stuffed animal sleepovers” a couple of years ago when one of my favorite library patrons told me about a library on the Cape that had done one.  And then the children’s librarian listserve started to be abuzz with librarians posting about their sleepovers.  And then a librarian posted a request for advice on how to run one, and later posted a compilation of all the advice that she had gotten.  Now I had no excuse: this compilation was virtually a guide on to how to run a stuffed animal sleepover.  It was time for me to schedule one.

But first, what is a stuffed animal sleepover?  Kids drop off their stuffed animals at the library, and after the library is closed, the stuffed animals have a grand old party together as they explore the library.  Some librarians make videos, other librarians print out photos of each stuffed animal to give to each child at animal pickup time, and other librarians take a ton of photos and post them on Facebook (the option I chose).  Basically, it would be tough to have a “real” sleepover at the library for real kids, so this is a fun option that carries no liability issues but still gets kids jazzed about the library.

Last night was the big night, and I am so glad that I chose a Friday night.  The library closes at two o’clock on Fridays, so I knew I would have plenty of time to take photos and then post them on Facebook and Google+.  I figured it would take me two or three hours…but I was wrong.  I finished posting the photos at eight-fifteen, and for that six and a quarter hours I was running around like a crazy woman.  At one point I was wheeling the book cart loaded with stuffed animals along the window-lined hallway on the top floor of the building, and as I looked out at the dark parking lot I thought that anyone out there in their car would probably think this was pretty funny:  a frazzled looking librarian pushing a cart of animals full-tilt along the hallway to the large program room.

Despite taking way longer than planned, I had a lot of fun posing the animals, taking their photos, and then writing captions for each photo (eighty-two or so altogether) as I posted them on Facebook.  Part of the set-up was that Pepper B. Collie, the storytime puppet, was taking the photos, since the librarians had all left for the day.  S. took a photo of three of us librarians standing outside the building waving goodbye to the animals (who were lined up on the window sill looking out).  So I had to be careful that I didn’t show in any of the photos (there are a lot of windows in the building that could catch my reflection), and when writing the captions I tried to write them in the voice of Pepper and the other animals.

Before the sleepover, Jennifer did a lot of brainstorming about places and ways to pose the animals, and yesterday morning I took her list, added some ideas of my own, and then typed up a two page bulleted list of locations, organized by area of the library.  This helped me to be much more efficient and ensured that I wouldn’t forget any of the best ideas.  Some of the ideas (I wanted a photo of the animals looking out the window at the sunset) were time sensitive, some were not; so in addition to areas of the library, I did have to keep the time sensitive ideas in mind as the evening progressed.

And it all worked out, especially since Jim was willing to bring a fresh hot pizza to the library rather than me taking the time to run out and get the pizza.  After posing the stuffed animals with the pizza, Jim and I took ten minutes to eat our pizza dinner, and then we set up the animals for the final pose:  dancing under a disco ball (definitely a two person pose – Jim shone a flashlight on the disco ball and held the disco ball out on a ruler while I took photos).  Then we cleaned up and headed home, where I uploaded and captioned the photos.

If you’d like to see the photos, the best ones are on Facebook (I was too burnt out by eight- fifteen to put captions on the Google+ photos):  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childrens-Room-at-the-Harvard-Public-Library/565116156844784

Happy September

I actually love the month of September – even though we’re busy at the library after school with kids coming over from the elementary, middle, and high schools, the mornings are lovely and quiet and I get tons done.

Sometimes my storytime regulars ask why I take a couple of weeks off from storytimes in September, and I always reply, “So I can get some ordering done after the summer!”  Summers at the library are almost relentlessly busy, and it’s difficult to focus on reading book reviews in The Horn Book Magazine and Kirkus when kids are coming up to the desk every few minutes to redeem summer prizes or ask for summer reading book suggestions.  I need these next few weeks to pay some careful attention to ordering, and to make sure our shelves are fully stocked with the latest and greatest as winter comes around the corner.

But there’s another reason I take a couple of weeks off from storytimes in September: it’s vitally important to take a little time off from them so that I get refreshed and revitalized.  Yes, I could keep plugging along at the usual stiff storytime pace that I keep up the rest of the year (five or so storytimes a week), but we all benefit from me having just a few weeks off.  I actually love that I get nervous and edgy before my first September storytime, because it means that I’m coming back to storytimes with a fresh perspective.  If I’m nervous, then I’m fully engaged, and if I’m fully engaged, then storytimes are soooo much more fun for everyone.

One of my greatest fears is getting stale in my job, which is why I’m always pushing myself to do more and to try new and different things.  And by stepping back and taking a break, I can look at my storytimes from a bit of a distance and evaluate what I’m doing well and what I need to do better.  I’ll never go so far as to film myself doing a storytime, because that would destroy my self-confidence, but I’m very capable of being objective about my own performance.  I know that I overuse certain phrases, and I’m aiming to not say those phrases coming up in September.  I know that I’m a little afraid of using parent tips in my storytimes, but I need to get over that hump and start incorporating those tips more regularly.  And I know that by the end of the summer I was a bit tired and worn out, and I’m glad to take this breather and regain my enthusiasm.

So the next few weeks will be devoted to freshening my storytime perspective, and spending some intense time doing my absolute favorite part of my job: ordering books.  Yay!  Happy September, everyone!

Analog clocks

I’m worried that analog clocks, which I personally prefer to digital, will be going the way of the dinosaurs.

The computer sign-in sheet for the children’s room computers is on the end of the librarian’s desk; I have thoughtfully provided a pencil and an analog clock for kids to log the time when they sign in.  Thoughtfully, because I like to encourage kids to practice their clock reading skills.  But I do get a lot of grief from kids about this clock, and they frequently ask me what time it is.  For the younger ones, I talk them through how to tell the time on the clock.  Sometimes I talk the older kids through, too, but most often I encourage them to think about it for a minute and they usually get it.

Yesterday, an eighth grade girl (a regular in the children’s room) was signing in for the computer, and she casually asked me “What time is it?”

With a smile, I replied, “The clock is right there…”

“I know, but…”  [heavy, heavy sigh]

Me:  “Well, think about what time you get out of school, since you just got out, and see if that helps you figure it out.”

Another heavy sigh.

And then the boy next to her whispered, “It’s 2:26.”

I may lose this clock battle, and, more importantly, the analog clock might lose – sooner than we think.

Procrastination…the fine art of

I turned on the computer to work on the library tour that I’ll be giving to the elementary school students this week, starting with two third grade classes tomorrow.

“Why don’t you get your work done now, in the morning, so that we can enjoy the rest of the day?” said my wonderful and wise husband before heading outside to work on installing the cedar decking on our new back steps.

That was about an hour ago.  In that hour, I’ve checked Facebook (both my account and Pepper B. Collie’s account), checked my email, read something my sister sent me, checked my work email, looked at a shirt on Garnet Hill, drunk two cups of tea, sent an email to my friend, turned on a McAfee scan on the computer, and now logged in to write a blog post.  And my flashdrive and the hard copy of the library tour that I printed out on Friday are both sitting next to me on the chair, unused so far today.

Sigh.

Saving a day with silliness

Today was one of those days, and when I got home I wrote a rather self-pitying draft of a blog post.  It made me feel better, which was good, and I had the sense to save it as a draft and come back to it later and delete it, which was even better than good.

The thing is – and you won’t often hear this because it’s hard to put these feelings out there – that it’s tough being a public servant.  Every day is public, which is usually ok, and then there are days like today when there are brief moments where you truly feel the servant part of the job description.  It really was the briefest of moments today that I felt servile, but like most negative things, it outweighed all the positive moments of the day for quite a while and got me down.

So I made myself do two things this evening to get myself out of my little funk:  I reminded myself that it is impossible to be universally liked at all times by all people (yes, that’s a bit redundant, but I don’t care), and that what’s important is that I try very, very, very hard every day to do the best job that I can with the best attitude and a smile on my face.

And then there’s the second thing I did to get myself out of my funk:  I watched an online clip about the exercise video that I saw a tease for on the Today Show this morning…Prancercise.  Thank goodness for that.  I instantly felt better.