Category Archives: Library events

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.

Summer update

This has been the CRAZIEST summer reading program I have ever seen at the library – constantly busy, every day, with almost no down time – and considering that this is my ninth summer at the library, that’s saying something.  Mind you, a crazy busy summer at the library is a very good problem to have!

So this is just a very quick update on my summer, all aspects (with, of course, some cat photos!):

Great programs so far this summer at the library, including the annual Ice Cream Social, a concert with the Toe Jam Puppet Band, stories with Mark Binder, hula hooping with Pinto Bella Hoops, a Historical Sword Demonstration with Jeff Goodhind and Jeff Lord, four book group meetings, and storytimes.  And lots and lots and lots of kids doing huge amounts of reading (and collecting prizes and working towards their summer reading bookplates).

Home improvement projects are continuing as we can find time to do them.  We priced out buying new kitchen cabinets from Home Depot, and realized that it would be cheaper for Jim to build our new cabinets – so that is Jim’s current project.  The quote from the electrician for the necessary work in the kitchen should be coming in soon, hopefully low enough that we can afford it, and then we need to figure out our timeline and finally finish off that kitchen.

Needless to say, this summer’s vacation week will be a staycation yet again, both because we need to fund the home improvement projects, and also because we need some time to do them!  And Jim is picking up quite a few gigs this summer, including one during our summer vacation.  (Acton Boxborough Farmer’s Market, Sunday, August 24.)

And the cats are doing very well.  No longer kittens, they are still not adults, and exhibit some rather annoying behaviors still (such as chewing power cords), but they are wonderful little buggers and we love them very much.  Moses is absolutely huge now, probably well over fifteen pounds, and the girls, Millie and Moxie, are adorably normal-sized.  (See photos below.)  We still feed Mommy Cat every day, and I’m trying to see if I can make friends with her, though her continued skittishness makes me think that she truly is feral.

And that’s it!  The quick summer update!

 

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

Ice Cream!

The ice cream is in the building!

Just arrived from Erikson’s Dairy of Maynard (many thanks to them for giving us a generous discount on the ice cream):  seven tubs of ice cream and one tub of raspberry sorbet.  Yum!  Now we’re almost ready for next week’s Ice Cream Social…all that’s still needed are the toppings and good weather.  Surely we’ve had enough rain for a while and are ready for a dry spell?

In praise of elementary students

I never, never, never post on this blog from work – but I have to take a brief moment today to say “hurray!” for the three great classes that just visited from the elementary school.  Two second grade classes came for a visit together, and they were so fun and so well behaved – I had a great time with them.  And then a third grade class just came for a tour of the library, and I was blown away by how attentive they were and by what great questions they asked.

What a great morning I’ve had with these visiting students!  And I can’t wait to meet the terrific first and fourth graders who will be visiting me this afternoon!

T minus six days

The elementary school class visits begin next Monday – always an exciting time of year!  I’m working on my final preparations for the visits, which include narrowing down the book choices for the books that I’ll read to the Kindergarteners and the first graders (I’ve pulled at least thirty of my favorites…so so hard to pick only a couple); streamlining my tour of the building to make it history-rich (the building is historic and very cool) but still engaging for a large group of kids; and creating a new feltboard story to use with the younger kids.

I’m really looking forward to next week’s class visits, since it’s such a great way to meet and make meaningful contact with every child in town who attends the public elementary school.  And, of course, to promote the library’s ever-popular summer reading program.

And now it’s just up to the Bruins to establish whether I wear my Bruins shirts for the class visits…if they’re still winning, I’ll be wearing the shirts, since the Bruins are statewide co-sponsors of the summer reading program.  If they’ve lost and are out of the running for the Stanley Cup, it may be a bit too fresh and painful for the kids.  (But wearing a Bruins shirt does catch the attention of sports-minded kids, which is always great.)  Stay tuned to find out what I’ll be wearing next week…

Coming on Tuesday

I’m trying something new in programming this month at the library: a paid performer on a weekday morning.  This month is rare in the town in which I work – there is no early release day from the public schools in May.  Normally, I schedule most of our paid performers to come on early release days, since after experimenting with Thursday evening shows and Saturday shows I have found that the best attendance for events is on early release day shows.  (And, of course, magic shows always get the best attendance of all, much to my sadness, but that’s a post for another day.)

When the May early release day was cancelled back in December, I was first very glad that I had not yet scheduled a performer, and then I had to decide what to do for May programming.  I toyed with the idea of having no performer at all, but that didn’t feel right to me.  Then I thought about scheduling a Saturday show, but quickly decided against that given the weak attendance at the very cool Saturday program we hosted in January.  January is an indoor month in town, where May is full of outdoor sports programs and the Apple Blossom Festival and the Garden Club Plant Sale and all kinds of other things.  Not worth me bringing a performer to the library on a May Saturday.

Then I decided to try a weekday morning performer who specializes in working with preschoolers and infants.  We do not have storytimes on Tuesday mornings, so that seemed the natural time to run a show.  And, even better, the Memorial Day holiday means that my Monday morning storytime regulars would be happy to have a Tuesday morning program to make up for their missed regular storytime.  And I’ve been wanting to bring Hugh Hanley back to the library, since I love the gentle way that he encourages  parents and children to sing and do fingerplays.  And I always learn from him: watching Hugh is like attending a master class in working with preschoolers.

Happily, we have a large group signed up to attend on Tuesday, and I suspect that even more attendees will drop in, which is just fine by me.  The more the merrier!  After all the mental machinations (and agony) that it took to get me to this decision of having a morning program, I’m thrilled that it turns out there is a demand.  This may be the beginning of a new programming trend at the library, budget allowing, of course.  How awesome would it be to have an early release day program each month for the older kids and a Tuesday morning program each month for the younger ones?

Movies…and lessons learned

Last night we showed The Rise of the Guardians for the May family movie night, to a relatively small crowd.  Usually I run the family movie nights on the first Friday of the month, but this year the Friends held their annual book sale at the library for the first time, which meant that we needed to make the large program room available to them for about a month for collecting, sorting, and then selling of the books.  So movie night got bumped to later in the month…and prom was last Friday night, so movie night got bumped to yesterday, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  Obviously, not as many people were in town for last night’s movie, so we had a smaller crowd.

I’ve been in my job for a while now, and sometimes I think that I’ve got things all figured out.  But then there are nights like last night where I realize that I’ve learned another lesson.  Last night’s lesson?  Next year, I won’t bother to run a movie night in May.  Not just because the crowd was smaller, but also because of all the things that I need to be accomplishing right before summer reading starts, and in times of stress like this, a movie night feels like time lost that could be spent stuffing summer reading bags or preparing for the elementary class visits.

But, more importantly, I realized last night that we’d wasted a great movie that could have been our opening movie for the summer reading program.  We hold two movie performance licenses at the library, but there are still a limited number of new release children’s movies that are covered by our licenses.  I really struggled to come up with five movies to show this summer, and I know full well that the two older movies that I chose to show in August will not draw as large a crowd as a newer movie would.

So last night was an if-only night:  if only I hadn’t insisted on showing a movie in May; if only I hadn’t chosen a hot new release to show at that May movie night; if only I had saved Rise of the Guardians for the June 21 movie night.  If only.  Lesson learned.  I’ll remember next year…

End of Summer Exhaustion and Vacation

Between finishing up the summer reading program and Ophy’s ongoing health issues, this has been a loooooong two weeks.  I went in to the library yesterday to inventory and put away all of the summer reading prizes, and when I got home I sat on the couch to watch the news (Jim had band practice last night).  Next thing I knew, I was wakened by the phone ringing an hour and a half later.  It’s not my style to fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the afternoon or early evening (or ever, really), so I think it’s safe to assume that I was absolutely tuckered out.  Exhausted.  Worn down.  However you want to put it, I was tired.

I worked today, and managed to finish up everything that might potentially haunt me during my vacation week; this included submitting my statistics to the state for the summer reading program.  And even though I planned the summer and knew full well what was going on all summer, I was blown away by our statistics:  we ran 58 programs (including hired performers, storytimes, book groups, and other library-run programs) and our attendance at those 58 programs was just shy of 1,900 adults and kids.  Wow.  Wow.  No wonder I fell asleep yesterday!

So goodbye to summer reading 2012 – it was a good summer, and we all enjoyed it and got lots of reading done.  (The kids read for over 5,200 hours this summer!)  And hello to Abby’s vacation 2012 – a stay-cation, of course.  I’m looking forward to sleeping in and making a full pot of tea every morning (and drinking the whole pot, too) and reading lots of books and going on adventures with Jim and repainting the exterior of our house and helping Ophy to recover.   Woo-hoo!