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:
- Monday - Family Movie, "Encanto". I chose this because I thought it would be popular, but it didn't draw a very large crowd. I think most have already seen it, it's not as popular as some adults want it to be (nowhere near "Frozen" levels), and with all the streaming services and devices, watching a free movie on the large TV at the library isn't a big deal.
- Tuesday - Family Storytime, with a "Library Week" theme and simple book-making craft.
- Wednesday - Bricks & Blocks, Family building program with regular bricks, preschool bricks, toddler bricks, and wooden blocks. I told them the official challenge was to design and build your own library for Library Week, but they could also let their imaginations go and build whatever they wanted. This activity is good for fine-motor skills, spatial awareness, creativity, and problem solving.
- Thursday - Family Movie, "The Pagemaster". I didn't know about this movie before now, but it is a fun fantasy/adventure that takes place in a library, based on the children's book of the same name by David Kirschner and starring Macauley Culkin, Christopher Lloyd, Ed Begley, Jr., Mel Harris, and the voices of Patrick Stewart, Leonard Nemoy, and Whoopi Goldberg (and it just dawned on me that all 3 are Star Trek alum). Again not a huge crowd, the same as for "Encanto", but they were very engaged.
- Friday - Play-Dough Playdate. I billed this as a 'have fun with a messy activity away from home and we'll clean up" program. I found a good deal on Amazon for 3oz cans of name-brand dough for about 75 cents each, which was cheap enough to give away because I really didn't want to reuse any dough that kids had handled. I would've made my own dough if I hadn't been pressed for time, and had a better idea of how much I'd need. I also bought an assorted pack of rolling pins, extruders, and cutters, and found more rolling pins and cutters in our cabinets. I initially asked each child to take one color of dough, but then after being sure I had plenty, let them take a second one if they wanted.
This was inspired by my son, who for a year or two had a Saturday morning routine of playing with play-doh at the kitchen table after breakfast. It was one of the few activities he ever sat still for any length of time. It's also a great fine-motor skill and sensory activity, plus encourages creativity.
- All Week - Library Week Book Display. I had just gotten two pieces of display furniture that were *badly* needed, and I was very excited about. I used one for all the new juvenile fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels, and the other will be used for rotating themed displays. I pulled all the picture books, early readers, boardbooks, chapter books, and kids' non-fiction that featured libraries and/or librarians for a Library Week Display.
I've become aware that there had been little to no programming for elementary-age kids at this library in the past, but I'm not sure if that's because they couldn't get that age to come, or just because my predecessor preferred preschoolers and kindergartners and didn't really program for the older kids or try to attract them. I suspect it's going to take a couple of years to really build up programming and attendance for that age group, and I'm going to have to really try to get some partnerships going with teachers at the schools and do some outreach next year.
I was excited to finally have some dedicated display shelves, and was very pleasantly surprised that at least 10 books checked out from the Library Week display during that week, which is really good for this small community! I've also finally started seeing more interest in the new juvenile books now that we have a dedicated, eye-catching display front and center.