Saturday, December 31, 2022

Favorite Reads - 2022


So even though I don't get to read as much as I'd like or feel like I should, I still thought it would be fun to put together a quick list of some of my favorite reads of this year. Just keep in mind that these are just my personal favorites from a relatively small selection, I'm not by any means suggesting these are necessarily the best of the best. Most of these came out in the last year or two, but there may be a couple of older titles in the mix.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Mini 'Gingerbread' House STEAM Program - 2022


Mini gingerbread houses, graham cracker houses

Back in 2019 I had the opportunity to do something I'd always wanted to do - a mini 'gingerbread' house program inspired by the graham cracker 'gingerbread' houses I used to make with my daughter. I eschewed what apparently has become common practice of pre-assembling the houses or using cartons/boxes to build them on in favor of an open-ended STEAM approach, allowing kids to fully express their creativity and empowering them to use their engineering and problem-solving skills. It turned out to be a huge success, and I was really looking forward to making it an annual program.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Dinovember 2022!



I finally had the chance to do Dinovember again! I had the opportunity first way back in 2018, and it was a huge success and a whole lot of fun (to see what I did then, go to my "Dinovember Reflection" post). Even though it was very successful, I wasn't able to repeat it until now due to not having a good social media partner, job changes, relocating, etc. This time, marketing youth services and materials is part of my job, and I am able to post to social media myself, so did not have to rely on convincing and coordinating with someone else to get the events publicized and get the stage photos posted, with the captions that I wanted.

For those who may be new to "Dinovember",

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Boo Bash & Spooky Stories Halloween Programs

I'm finally getting around writing up my Halloween programs from last month! I have been super busy and super exhausted for the last two months, and feeling rather uninspired. But, here they are, finally.

The programming survey I conducted at the end of the summer indicated that people really wanted more holiday and seasonal special programs, so I planned a "Boo Bash" for the 5 & under crowd. My co-worker was also doing a Halloween program for the teens and tweens, so I decided to add a "Spooky Stories" program for the elementary kids, so there would be something for every age.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

When Programs Flop

It's something every programmer dreads, putting time and effort into what we think is a good program, and nobody shows up. But it's probably happened to all of us at least once, and it doesn't feel good. Though the word cloud above may be a bit harsh, it is definitely how I felt at the time when it happened to me. Like having no one show up to your birthday party, it's hard not to take it personally. And let's face it, as much as we say numbers aren't everything, we aren't naïve; we know numbers are how we are often judged.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

SRP 2022 Reflection - Summer Programs

In my last post I reflected on the reading challenge portion of our summer program, and in this one I'll focus on the programming. Overall, the programming part went well; programs were well-attended and we received a lot of positive comments.

The way I organized summer reading and programming was very different from what my predecessor had done, but more in line with what most libraries seem to do.

Monday, August 15, 2022

SRP 2022 Reflection - The Reading Challenge


When I started this job in December of 2021, I knew that the summer was going to be hard and stressful, with getting a late start planning it, rebuilding from the ground up, having no idea what people wanted or what kind of numbers to expect, and it was my first time being responsible for actually planning and executing an entire summer reading program. I've lived through many, but always in larger systems where SRP was planned centrally by someone else, and only having to be responsible for planning my own handful of programs. But I was excited at the prospect of for once being able to do things the way I thought they should be done, or so I thought.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

SRP Week 8 - Aquatic Reptiles


Since I had booked the local herpetarium for this last week of summer programming, I decided to use aquatic reptiles as the theme for this week's programs, including both oceanic reptiles and the freshwater reptiles that live in our land-locked area.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

SRP Week 7 - Shark Week!

I've been doing "Shark Week" with my storytimes for several years now, since long before it was cool and everyone was doing it. I also was using "Baby Shark" before the PinkFong version went viral (my son hates the song and blamed me for it going viral, LOL, as if I were some big influencer 🤣). I'm not even really that into sharks, but I used to like Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, back when it was more educational than sensational, and I found it to be a really fun theme to do, plus a way for the younger kids to get into the Shark Week frenzy (see what I did there?) in an age-appropriate way. I was originally supposed to do a whole big Shark Week program during the summer of 2020, but you know what happened to that. So I incorporated elements of what I had planned for that into my programs this year.

SRP Week 6 - Boats & Floats

Last week was all about boats and buoyancy! Even though we are nowhere near the ocean, we still have plenty of lakes, rivers, and streams for boating.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Monday, July 4, 2022

SRP Week 4 - Pirate Treasure

Pirate storytime, pirate crafts & activities for kids

I had mixed feelings about doing a pirate theme, but I knew the kids would have fun with it, and an idea for a program came to me that I really liked, so I decided to embrace it and focus on the treasure-hunting part.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

SRP Week 3 - Marine Mammals


As a land-locked state we really weren't able to bring in many guest performers, speakers, or animals that really tied to the CLSP theme of "Oceans of Possibilities", so I just focused on ones that I knew would draw a crowd and people would enjoy. This week we had a petting zoo with farm animals, and while none of them were sea creatures, most of them were mammals, so I decided to make this week's theme "Marine Mammals".

Monday, June 20, 2022

SRP Week 2 - Mermaids & Monsters


As I explained previously, though I didn't really plan on doing weekly themes, it just kind of ended up that way, and for week 2 I focused on mythical sea creatures. And that of course mean mermaids and sea monsters (but NOT narwhals; narwhals are real).

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Can We PLEASE Stop with the Vocational Awe Already?

Vocational awe and children's librarians, youth services and vocational awe, vocational awe in libraries

You know, if there was any good to come from this terrible pandemic, I would have thought it would have gotten us as a profession to kick this ridiculous sense of vocational awe to the curb. You know, the idea that libraries are sacred and that librarianship is a virtuous calling we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for. The feeling that we have to be all things to all people, fill all the cracks in society that people inevitably slip through, give of ourselves until it hurts. I think this idea is the most pervasive in the area of youth services.

Vocational awe leads to mission creep, overworking, understaffing, and people that are underemployed and/or underpaid (among other issues).

Sunday, June 12, 2022

SRP Week 1 - Going to the Beach


So there is always ongoing discussion in youth services about themes, usually in relation to storytime, but also in relation to summer reading. Many libraries follow CSLP or iREAD themes, some come up with their own, and some don't really have a theme, other than "summer at the library". I've always said themes are optional, and sometimes can be fun and make it easier to plan, and sometimes can be too restrictive and make it more difficult.

Most of the libraries in my state follow CSLP, as does mine, so our theme is "Oceans of Possibilities". This was a very easy theme to decorate around, and I thought would be pretty easy to program around, but I found it harder than expected. I ended up picking several activities I wanted to do, looking at when I had scheduled guest performers, and what movies I had planned to show, and picking weekly themes to loosely follow to give me some direction [however, I am thinking more and more of moving away from themes, especially after looking at the CSLP themes for next year]. For the first week, I decided on a loose "beach" theme, with sand-based activities.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Summer Readin', Happened So Fast....


....Summer Readin', Are We Having A Blast??

You may have noticed my blog has been rather quiet lately, or maybe you haven't, because like me you have been so busy getting everything ready for summer reading that you've barely had time to even breathe! I started thinking about summer reading as soon as I got here in December and started seriously planning in February, but June 1st came way too fast!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Reading with My Peeps - Diorama Contest

Over the last few years I had noticed a growing trend to make dioramas using Peeps. Love them or hate them, there is no denying the little sugar bombs are adorably cute, especially when portraying your favorite characters. Once I had seen them, I knew I wanted to host a library event some day, and this year I had my chance.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Spring Break Programming

Spring Break at the library

Initially I wasn't planning on doing anything during Spring Break other than my usual storytime (which I had just resumed the week prior) and self-directed activities because I was told that everyone travels and it's always been dead at the library during spring break, and I *really* needed to work on planning summer reading. But, with high gas prices and all the problems with airline cancellations, I thought more people would be staying home than usual, and with the cold, wet weather expected most of the week they would need something to do.

So I decided to plan some very simple family programs that (1) would not cost a lot, (2) would not involve a lot of preparation, (3) would not involve a lot of staff time during the event, (4) most supplies purchased could be saved and reused, and (5) would work for a fairly large age-range; basically programs that could easily accommodate a crowd, but wouldn't be a waste of time and materials if no one showed up. Since it was also Library Week, I incorporated that theme in some of them. Here is what I came up with:

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Library Week - Family Storytime


Library Week Storytime

My director wanted to make a big deal out of National Library Week, partly to acknowledge the staff for all the hard work they do, partly to remind people of all the library does for the community, and partly to get more people coming back in. So I planned for a "Library" themed storytime, which is always fun because there are several funny and cute books about libraries for kids.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Spring - Family Storytime

Spring storytime, spring flowers storytime

This was my first in-person storytime after having to suspend in-person programming yet again as the Omicron wave hit right after I started this position. Patrons have been asking for it for at least a month, but Covid numbers were still too high for me to feel comfortable. During the interim I offered book bundles and did a couple of read-alouds on our Facebook page.

I went with a Spring theme,

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Yeast Growth - STEM Program

This is from last fall, shortly before I left my previous position, when I was *finally* able to do an in-person STEM program for the first time in a year and a half!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

STEM Take-Home Kit: Wind & Air Flow


wind activities for kids, air flow activities for kids, weather activities for kids

I started this job in December, just as the Omicron variant of Covid was hitting, so decided not to do in-person programming for a while. In January I started putting together take-home STEAM kits that were a combination of STEM activities and arts & craft activities, generally designed for ages 5-10, but some may skew slightly older or younger, and adult assistance/supervision is recommended for some activities, particularly with kids at the younger end.

January's was a re-mix of the Snowflake Science & Icy Experiments I did last year as a hybrid program, but decided to drop the video portion as no one seems to be interested in virtual programs anymore. In February, I combined the foam heart collage activity inspired by Michael Hall's My Heart Is Like a Zoo that I included in a previous early literacy kit, and the "conversation heart chemistry" experiments from the last in-person STEM program I did before the pandemic hit.

I took the inspiration for the March kit from the old saying, "March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb". The change from winter to spring often brings blustery, windy weather as warm and cold fronts battle it out, so I decided to include activities related to wind and air flow.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Adventures In Weeding


bad library books, bad YA books, bad books for teens, this is why we weed, collection maintenance, adventures in weeding
As I've mentioned previously, I recently started a new position as youth services manager and inherited a very neglected and mismanaged collection that had never been properly weeded, rarely had new materials added other than those specifically requested by patrons, lacked diversity, and was very biased toward a particular religious point-of-view.

So I have been ordering new materials, while weeding as much as I can as quickly as I can, to get the collections in better shape by summer reading. Last time I shared one of the most egregious books I came across in terms of physical age and condition; this time I'm sharing one of the worst in terms of content (though age and circulation are factors as well). 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Research Has *FINALLY* Been Published!

If you've been following this blog for a while, or if you are/were a member of either the Storytime Underground or ALATT Facebook groups, you might recall that I did a research project concerning children's librarians and child development knowledge, and you might have even participated in it. To help jog your memory, I distributed the survey about a month before the pandemic hit, on this blog and in the aforementioned groups.

I am happy to announce my research paper has *finally* been published!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

So You Want to Be On a Book Award Committee?

Book awards, literature awards, picture book awards committee,

With it being awards season, you may be wondering what it's like being on a book award selection committee and how one gets to be part of it all. Or, you might be thinking you could surely do a better job of selecting books that were both "distinguished" AND would actually appeal to the children they're supposedly written for (yes, I'm looking at you, Newbery and Caldecott). 

I've wanted to serve on a book award committee for a few years, and after first applying and being rejected by the Cybil awards [given by youth literature bloggers], I finally found an opportunity with the Bell awards,

Monday, January 17, 2022

Adventures In Weeding


Library collection development, weeding library collections, library collection maintenance,

During the time between when I accepted my current position and when I actually began I corresponded with the adult services manager a couple of times to get a feel for things and know what to expect. In one email they told me of some meetings and things I would be attending the first week, and then suggested I would want to get started assessing my collections.

I was a little surprised at this, as I had expected programming to be the top priority. But once I started looking at the collection, I realized why!

Friday, January 7, 2022

PSA - Weeding: It's Not Just for Gardens!


Collection development, collection maintenance, weeding books

If you've followed my blog, know me from the various library-related Facebook groups, or know me IRL, you may have picked up on some of my soapbox issues: reading levels, "one right way" thinking, people presenting penguins as Arctic animals, reading levels, snowflakes that are anything but 6-sided, library school, reading levels...  Well, I've discovered a new one - collection maintenance and development!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Reflecting on 2021 & Looking Ahead to 2022


Time for my annual reflection on the past year and setting goals for the year ahead. 2021 didn't quite turn out to be the return to normal that many had hoped, but it was a less tumultuous than 2020. However, that doesn't mean it was without its ups and downs. Personally, it was another year of big changes, but this time it was by choice and on my terms.