The holidays are a time for sharing stories; from the story of Santa and Rudolph and the elves, to the stories of our lives we share over holiday dinner. It's story season!! We brought together our tweens and our littlest library friends for a night we called Holiday Storybuddies. Our tweens broke off into corners of the library and they each had a toddler or two to read together with. Parents looked on with delight, and OF COURSE, pajamas made everyone cozy and comfy! Tweens/teens earned their community service hours as part of our Community Club and the little ones got some undivided, one on one attention. After the stories, everyone got to make a "snowglobe" winter craft together and head home for the evening. This program brought together different age groups and also allowed some of our working parents to get in library time with their kids. Smiles all around showed that it was a huge success!
Winter storytime ends this week, just as the weather forecasters promise us a high of 70 tomorrow. Perfect timing. I know that for many of my little toddler friends (and their grownups), this 8 week session has brought lots of new things. I've watched this particular group go from squirmy-can't-sit-still to amazing full on listeners. They remind me when I've forgotten their favorite song, or puppet-play. They've made friends with one another and have become masters of the glue sticks during crafts. They treasure the story time more than any other group I've had in a long while. It's a true delight. I know that this break in our story time flow allows for me and the staff to prepare for our summer reading program. Summer reading takes time. However, I know that tomorrow when I remind our parents and sitters that it's our last day, that they will moan and sigh. Most of them will eventually substitute story time for sunny playground play dates, but it's still a disappointment to them. This makes me wonder if maybe it's time to think about story time timing differently. Maybe we need to spring ahead with how we run storytime as well. Maybe it's time for a never-ending story time? Maybe it's time for outside in the park, storytime? Who knows where this burst of spring ideas could lead! Regardless, I will miss my dedicated group of story goers and I am so proud of how they have grown. And who knows? Maybe they have inspired story time to grow a little too....
I am super excited to have connected with Ms. Stephanie, a children's librarian working in the Pheonix, library. Her vision of expanding literacy beyond the walls of the library is creative, effective and inspiring. Read what she has to say as my guest-blogger and be sure to scroll down for a sample of her "one-sheet" story times!
Maximizing Story Time - One-sheet at a Time!
Children's librarian and avid reader, Stephanie enjoys good bookin' children's picture books!
While I am new to the role as a children’s librarian, I’ve been around the block when it comes to marketing and customer service. I’ve worn those hats and many more after co-owning a children’s clothing boutique and learned through experience what’s effective and what’s not. When I decided jump the track and enter the world of public libraries to promote literacy to children, I found that my sales and marketing skills were just as handy here as they were promoting high end onesies and wooden toys. To be a public librarian means to serve the public, understand their needs and deliver. We also need to reach the nonuser. More than ever before, librarians must prepare to come to the table wearing a few more hats.
We can all understand the value and importance of great customer service in a library setting- to engage our patrons, make them feel as a guest, help meet their needs, thank them for coming to our programs and using our services, treating each individual with respect and to be empathetic. To always serve is my motto and it applies to all areas of my life. Whether or not we are on the same page, we can all understand that in order to have successful programs, we need people to attend them and hopefully, we want to provide consistent, relevant and quality programming every time.
I love presenting story times. I really, really love it! I love interacting with little ones and connecting with parents and caregivers. During my work as an Early Literacy Outreach Specialist for the _Phoenix Public Library, I would spend a lot of time conducting parent workshops educating them and raising awareness on the importance of early literacy. I also conducted many story times packed with songs, books, and information like parenting tips, upcoming events and other resources offered at the library. I’d spend a significant amount of time preparing and pulling books from shelves to share with my attendees. I had fun doing it! But at the end of each story time or workshop, I wondered how much parents and caregivers were actually taking away besides a fun-filled 30 minutes and a craft. I’d also feel deflated when attendees would breeze past the carefully selected books that fit the theme of the day. Hey! That took some time! Are you not in the least bit interested in taking a book home and revisiting today’s theme with your child? Children love repetition and they love story time! Hey! Come back! Please!?
It got me thinking, what can I do differently? What do I want to accomplish with this program? What outcomes are important here? I knew I wanted my patrons to walk away feeling inspired, wanting to come to the next story time, not only for the social aspect, but to learn more and feel like they (the parent) are learning something and that story time isn’t just for their children. It’s a parent program as much as anything. So how to begin? I started by looking at my neglected book display and thought, how about a printed bibliography of suggested titles to check out? From there, it all came tumbling forth: If I have a printed sheet, I can include the Parent Tips of the Week…ooh, and the Letter of the Week…oh my goodness! I can advertise for the upcoming events! And gee, (why didn’t I think of this earlier?) the songs we sang and the books we read!? I felt like I’d discovered the wheel. Okay, not a revolutionary discovery, but I discovered the power of the “one-sheet”.
So, what is a one-sheet? It’s a single document (a poster or a flyer) carefully designed to provide a powerful punch of information you’d like to convey to your targeted viewer. It is visually pleasing and its goal is spark interest what is being advertised. In my case, I wanted to create something that had all the information in one tidy page and also conveyed the message “Story Time on the Go” or DIY Story Time. Hey Parents! Now you can have the resources at your fingertips to create your own story time at home! Not only that, here are some helpful early literacy and parenting tips to know! And look! There are so many fantastic upcoming events you will know about on this one-sheet!
Designing a one-sheet takes some time, thought and your marketing/graphic design hat (on top of your programming hat and whatever other many hats you’re wearing that day). It can be simple, but it has to be something that parents and caregivers will want to take home and use. First, ask yourself, what is the message I want to get across? How can I best serve the parents and caregivers that attend my story time with their children? What resources and information might benefit them that they might not think to ask about? How can I package early literacy and parenting tips in a fun and visually exciting way? For me, upcoming events, book suggestions and the parenting tips are the most important items on my one-sheet because these are the things that educate and keep them coming back to the library.
Another hat to consider is the sales hat. Patrons are our customers (their tax dollars pay our salaries and keep our doors open). Their “business” with us matters. We work hard to offer relevant programming, services and resources they will use, value and talk about with others. Getting the word out requires marketing and selling them on why they should use the library. I apply this notion to the one-sheet in story time. Just creating a great document isn’t enough. I’ve taken to handing them out at the beginning of story time as well as displaying a color copy in a stand for reference. Today’s One Sheet included 4 illustrations of sign language, so I wanted to be sure the parents had something to refer to when I covered it during class.
At the beginning of story time, I introduce it, sometimes as the parents activity sheet or their “homework” or I’ll say, “I’ve created something special for you that includes the songs we sang, the books we read, the fun, upcoming events we have coming and some tips for building those early literacy skills at home with your child. It’s a portable Story Time for you! Please use the tips and suggestions- they can help prepare your child to love reading and to be ready to read by kindergarten!” It’s good for you to get behind the one-sheet - to point out to them its value or else they might not see it as anything but another piece of paper.
Whether or not the one-sheet is something you might want to try, consider what you want your parents and caregivers to take away from your program. Ask yourself the questions I asked about the important outcomes of your program and then work towards reaching (and measuring) those outcomes. Story time is so much more than stories and it’s not just for the children attending them. Parents are their child’s first and best teacher. Let’s be librarians who seize a great opportunity to connect them with resources and information that will further help them. They are coming to our story time because they care about literacy. Let’s support that as much as we can.
2016 kicked off with a fresh new start! We rang in the new year with Brown Bag Books and More, a new twist on story time for older children. Meeting monthly, this storytime is for children in grades K-2. Upon arrival, all participants receive their own "brown bag" filled with goodies related to the theme. Our first theme was "Winter Fun" and our bags included:
I consider my Reader's Theater program part of my school year repertoire. So it came as quite a shock when I started to get calls and inquiries asking me to PLEASE fit in another program before summer reading starts. This lucky librarian could not say no. The struggle was the writing... I write my own scripts (thanks to the guidance and format of fellow librarian, Jessica) and script writing is time consuming. I also have a group that is made up of tweens. They are demanding. They want substance! Scripts need to have an impact, prompt discussion and it needs to encourage more reading (partly my rules). I've written from Wonder, Harry Potter, Matilda, and more. I decided to try to adapt a scene from The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. It's such a moving story and the emotions of the animals can easily be transferred to the format of a play. I am sure it will lend itself well to our upcoming "back by popular demand" program. I am including the script here, for those of you who wish to try and need to save a little time during these very busy summer reading months. Enjoy!
Summer Reading is nearly here and I'm up to my eyeballs in pinterest pages of crafts and activities. My summer calendar is jam-packed with activities and performers of all kinds and lots of things to keep families, kids and our teens engaged and feeling the "power" of libraries this summer. This week I went to the NLS Summer Reading workshop for a morning of idea sharing and motivation. It was great (and we made a craft!) I am thinking of those masks for our teens, as well as bringing in some real-life heroes for a weekly "Hero Hangout", in addition to the many programs and activities we will have on hand. What are some of your summer reading plans and activities? Share!
Inform, Inspire, Ignite! The Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association's 2015 Spring Conference is this Friday! It's always great to share and discover new ideas and get a renewed enthusiasm for what we do each day. The best part for me is that I have been invited to participate as a panelist!
I've blogged about my experiences using iPads at events and traditional library programs and now I'll have the chance to share that live and in person. I am proud and honored to be in the company of colleagues and panelists that inspire me as well. It is sure to be an informative and exciting workshop. So if you're going, join us for the iCan:Integrating iPads and Apps into Youth Programming, session #3, and be sure to say hello! And if you're not, do not fret! I'll be posting our workshop and pinterest board for you to gather ideas from.
Now... what do I wear?
I didn't realize I wanted to be a librarian until I was already wayyyy into grown-upville and had an undergraduate degree and a career in marketing and promotion, and two kids. I skipped out on PTA meetings and followed my passion until I found my way into a Library Science program at CW Post. I had been out of a classroom and off a college campus for over a decade and I was petrified at the thought of going back. "Would everyone look at me as an old lady?" and "Do they still use notebooks and pens?" And the dreaded one...."Will I make any friends??"
Ladies and gentlemen....Let me introduce you to my friend Laura, one of the very first people I met in my very first class at Post. Laura and I went on to be in many of the same classes together as we both pursued our librarian degrees. We worked on zillions of projects together and also shared a boat load of laughs and Panera coffee meet-ups in off hours. Laura and I have been through virtual life and real life together over the years. We met celebrities! We are friends and colleagues. The best thing about Laura is that she is an awesome librarian and she has continued to inspire me professionally. She's creative and smart and she shares my passion for being a librarian so we can talk nerdy librarian stuff endlessly and it's perfectly ok. Laura is the real deal.
And now Laura has a BLOG! I am super-excited about Library Laura because Laura has amazing programming ideas that I plan to steal all of. I hope that Laura and I can share a few ideas back and forth and maybe even guest blog on each other's site... Laura? Maybe???
So head on over and send my first librarian friend Laura some blog-love. Check out her recent programming for Valentine's Day, (the "love is blind" game is amazing!) and let her know if you use any of her awesome ideas! XOXOXO
I've run a Grandparents Valentines Day Tea for the last two years. I believe that the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is something unique and special and should be celebrated. There is no better time to foster this "grand" love and togetherness than at a Valentine's Day "tea". Here's the how it goes: