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