Category Archives: Library events

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!

Winnie the Pooh

Last night’s movie night was hands down the sweetest movie night ever at the library.  We showed the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh, and the audience was full of younger kids (all under the age of five, I believe), some of whom had never been to a movie night before.  They were so sweet and so attentive and so wrapped up in the flow of this very gentle movie.  Lots of giggles when Pooh’s tummy grumbled, lots of delight when Tigger bounced and sang.

And from my adult perspective, I was impressed by how Disney constructed this movie.  Mid-way through the movie I went and checked the DVD case to make sure this was actually a new film, because it has the look, feel, and spirit of the older classic Disney movies.  The animation is lovely (the DVD case says that it’s hand-drawn) and the plot is gentle, with just enough tension to make things interesting, but not so much that younger children are anxious.  And I loved the way that the original text of the books is integrated into the film.  The text is almost a character in the film, as full page spreads of the original book (or a facsimile thereof, I’ll have to look at the book to figure that out) appear from time to time, and then the words and letters will move and fall and incorporate into the action of the movie.  My favorite bit was when the characters are stuck at the bottom of the pit they have dug, and then they use the words of the text to build a ladder to climb out.  So cool.

The best part of last night’s movie?  Everyone left happy, and got home in time to get to bed at a reasonable hour (a major benefit of a movie that’s only one hour).  That happy-and-bed-at-a-reasonable-hour includes the children’s librarian, by the way.  🙂

Winding down

I just bought nine bags of popcorn, which should be enough to get us through the last two movie nights of the summer (Winnie the Pooh and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and it really hit home as I bought that popcorn that summer is almost over.  Sure, it’s ninety degrees and wicked humid out, but the summer reading program only has eleven more days to go, and kids in the town where I work will be heading back to school soon after that.

It’s been an interesting summer at the library.  The first several weeks of the summer reading program were intensely, crazily, ridiculously busy, with tons of kids coming in for prizes each day and waitlists for programs.  In those several weeks, I wasn’t able to do anything that wasn’t summer reading related, and I went home absolutely pooped each evening.  But a week or so ago, things got somewhat calmer, and I suspect that a lot of people have now gone on vacation, and that the remaining kids have moved past the prize-receiving threshold and are now working on their bookplate numbers.  Which is not to say that it’s been quiet at the library, because it hasn’t been, but I have been able to accomplish some other “action items,” like getting that order of new books completely sorted and shuttled down to tech services for processing.  And, as I think about it, some of the relative calmness in the last week at the library can easily be attributed to the road construction on the state highway that runs in front of the library (the state closed the road and sent motorists on unmarked detours, which is a whole ‘nother story).

So, with eleven days to go, here is the current summer reading hours total for the kids participating in the summer reading program: 3,498 hours read.  That’s very impressive, especially since I know that not everyone has gotten their hours entered into the online reading program.  And I’m impressed with my own summer reading hours, which currently stands at 35 hours – a personal best.

As for programs, there are still some great programs coming up at the library.  Tomorrow afternoon is the last summer meeting of the Lego club; Wednesday is a program for ages 6 and up on Wetlands and Watersheds, presented by a teacher naturalist from Audubon Ark; Thursday night is the Winnie the Pooh movie night; Wednesday the 15th is the Finale Picnic; and the day after that is the final movie night for the summer, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Not to mention the six remaining storytimes of the summer.  There’s still space left in all the programs (except for the Storytime for 2’s & 3’s), so call tomorrow if you’d like to sign up.

And now I’m going to do a little more work on my own summer reading hours, to finish up the excellent book Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan by Richard Bowers.

Summer summer summer

And yet another month has gone by since I last posted…which this time is a reflection of just how busy this summer’s reading program has been.  Without a doubt, this has been the busiest summer reading program ever at my library, with books circulating like crazy (often the circulation desk receives two full book carts of children’s returns each day), children reading more hours than ever before (and thus lines of children at the desk each day to collect their prizes), and fantastic attendance at the summer programs.

I’ve been so pleased with this summer’s programs, which so far have included:

  • Wolf Talk with Michael LeBlanc and his wolf Kocheech (I’m sure I’ve spelled that incorrectly, but I’ve never seen it written).  I can’t say enough great things about this program.  Hands down, my favorite library program ever.  Ever.
  • Jay Mankita in Concert.  Jay is a great musician, and we had an awesome concert with him playing outdoors on the library lawn on a gorgeous summer afternoon.  As an added bonus, his talented four year old son joined in and sang with Jay on a few numbers.
  • Bubbleology with Keith Michael Johnson.  What a great show!  Keith does more than just do cool things with bubbles – he teaches the kids a lot about science and experimentation and truly brings joy to that teaching process.
  • World Class Frisbee Show and Playshop with Todd Brodeur.  Todd did a program at the library two summers ago, and it was so good that I knew I had to have him back.  I love that he inspires kids to be active with just an inexpensive piece of equipment and no pressure to be an all star.  Not everyone is a future varsity athlete, but Todd inspired everyone at his show – adults and kids and teens alike – to have fun and be active with a Frisbee.  Awesome.
  • And, of course, there have been library programs, including the Ice Cream Social (biggest crowd ever), the Tie Dye program (once again, biggest crowd ever), book groups, storytimes, Book Gobblers for elementary age kids, and reading to Winston the therapy dog.

And we’re only about two thirds of the way through the summer!  Still some great things to come…stay tuned for reports on those programs…and still a lot of kids doing a lot of reading and working towards having a Big Number on their summer reading bookplate.  Awesome.

Happy Cookies

Two days ago we got invited to a party with the Stanley Cup at the Garden (the photo of Jim and me with the Cup is here), which was very, very cool.  While we were sitting at a table at the party, I noticed that the kids in attendance were totally jazzed about the special Bruins cookies that party guests could pick up after getting their photo taken.  “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “I know Jim and Bill and Judy and I aren’t going to eat our Bruins cookies…what if I brought them to the library and raffled them off to the library kids who come every day after school?  Hmmmmm…”  Especially perfect for a library, since the Bruins were the official sponsors of the Massachusetts summer reading program for the last three summers.

So I carefully carried home three of the cookies, making sure not to crack them or melt the frosting, and first thing yesterday morning I put them on display at the children’s desk with raffle tickets and a bucket (and the photo of me and Jim with the Cup), asking that only kids enter and that each kid only enter once.

And, boy, was that raffle a hit.  I had planned to draw the three winning names at 4:00 this afternoon, but one of my favorite fifth graders came up to me at 3:30 and said, “Abby.  When are you drawing the names for the cookies.”  Not a question, mind you, but a statement.  I told  her I was planning on 4:00, and she looked me in the eye and didn’t say anything.  “Are you leaving before 4?” I asked.  Yes was the answer, so I told her that I would just ask the other kids in the room if they had entered the raffle – to give everyone a fair shot – and that I would then draw the names.

A few minutes of happy chaos ensued, as the dozen or so afterschool kids swarmed the desk so that they could each fill out a raffle ticket.  I had thought that maybe I would duck into my office to quietly pull the winning names, but as I looked around it was obvious that was NOT an option: the crowd wanted to witness the drawing to be sure it was fair.  So I took a deep breath and pulled the name…of a child who wasn’t in attendance.  Time to move fast – the crowd looked ready to turn on me.  I drew the second name – of a fifth grade boy who clearly is a huge Bruins fan.  He chose his cookie (the Stanley Cup cookie) with triumph, and I drew the last name.  This time a sweet third grader won, and grinned from ear to ear as he chose his cookie (the Bruins banner).

Luckily, the non-winners were mostly older kids and all excellent sports, bearing their cookie loss with aplomb.  And joy, too, because it was such a fun spontaneous moment that none of us had expected on a rainy afternoon.  The fifth grade winner let his friends look at his cookie before leaving happily, and the third grader spent a good half hour looking at books on the shelves while holding tightly on to his cookie.

And then an hour or so later, the little girl whose name I drew first came in, and I asked her if she had gotten my phone message.  No, she said, looking puzzled, so I held up her cookie and told her that she had won.  She was so happy that she couldn’t speak – she went over to her mom with the cookie, all smiles and shining eyes.  The family stayed looking at books for a while, and the little girl held her cookie the whole time, cracking it a bit in the plastic bag while she thought out loud about how she would eat it: a little bit each night, with some ice cream.  Kind of reminded me of Frances holding the Chompo bar on her way home from the store…

All in all, it was much, much more fun than if we grownups had eaten the cookies Tuesday night! 

A better year

For various reasons, today is my own personal New Year’s Day, and I have a bunch of resolutions for this coming year:

–  I’m going to attend my first highschool reunion, which makes me simultaneously cringe and wonder at the possibilities.  Maybe I’ll reconnect with some cool people.  Maybe.  And hopefully there will be good food.

–  I’m going to step outside my comfort zone (I hate that term, but it does describe the feeling well) and get trained in the “Every Child Ready to Read” program from the American Library Association, with the intention of presenting the program to parents in a series of seminars.

–  I want to, and need to, add some new lesson plans to my repertoire for the Storytime for 2’s and 3’s.  I already have a list of themes that I want to develop, and I’ve already ordered some cool puppets to supplement those themes.  Now to just put in the time to create and develop…

–  I’m looking forward to exploring some additional afterschool programs for the library.  I’ve already got a lot of ideas, so the thought is to schedule these programs and see how they run.  (And no, I’m not going to preview these ideas here first!  But I will let you know how they do…if they’re a success.)

–  I’m looking forward to spending some more time making jewelry.  If only the price of silver would cooperate with my plans and drop to a reasonable level.

–  For this year’s book groups, I’m going to insist that the kids of the older groups trust my judgement and let me pick half of the books (they get to pick and vote on the other half).  I feel like we haven’t been reading enough new fiction lately, and our reading has also been far too fantasy-heavy.  Time for some different genres.

–  And maybe this year will be the year that we “finish” work on our house.  We’re sooooo close, and I really think that we can do it.  It would be nice to transition into maintenance mode from renovation mode.  (And even nicer to have guests over without feeling like we need to apologize for all of our unfinished projects.)

–  Oh, and yeah, I’d like to write a best-selling novel, first in a series, that will enable Jim and me to live in the manner in which we’d like to be accustomed.

Happy New Year!

Weekend update

The two most labor-intensive events of the summer reading program are OVER: the ice cream social and the tie dye extravaganza.  Yay!  I’m really, really, really happy that I scheduled these two events in back-to-back weeks this summer, since it’s a lot easier to keep up that high energy level than to try to regain that intensity after a couple of weeks of “relaxing” events.  Not to mention that the tie dye event would still be looming in the future right now if I hadn’t gotten it over with…sort of like those big term papers that used to haunt me in college.

Both events went quite smoothly, and we had gorgeous weather for both of them; no worries at all about any rain for either.  Only two more outdoor events for this summer, the outdoor games program with Trevor the Games Man and the summer finale picnic, and I’m really only concerned about the possibility of rain for the games, since I imagine we could somehow move the finale picnic indoors if need be.  But the games would be much, much more fun if we have nice weather and get to play them outside – so keep your fingers crossed for good weather on the 19th.

In home news, Jim and I have been working hard again on our current projects after taking a bit of a breather.  I have a superstitious feeling that I will only finally be healthy again once our bathroom project is complete, since last summer’s health adventure began the day after I ordered and paid for all of the bathroom fixtures, so I feel extra motivated to finish the bathroom.  Not to mention that we’ve gotten a little too used to not having a sink in our bathroom (it’s been six months).   So today we finally installed the new medicine cabinet, and Jim re-installed all of the door trim.  We’ll call the plumber tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll be able to have the sink installed this week, just in time for Dan’s visit (always good to have a bathroom sink when you have company coming).  Then some paint touchups to fix any dings on that gorgeous Van Courtland Blue, installation of the baseboards, sealing of the grout, and painting of the bureau which will be our new linen storage unit in the bathroom.  And then – we’ll be done!

I’ve also been painting the front door and the back door, having finally convinced Jim to let me paint them Hunter Green to go with our house color of Hawthorne Yellow.  Bigger project than it would seem, though, since those dark colors need multiple coats of paint.

And I’ve been reading, though not as much as I should be:  Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  I’ve given up on The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma, though; it just didn’t grab me the way I had hoped, and I’ve got soooo many other books that I want to get through.  And that’s the update for this weekend, as I try to move back towards normalcy in life and in my blogging.