Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Making Connections: Family Nights and Brewfests

Special thanks to PSB for letting me creep so hard
As the school-age services librarian at my workplace, I do my fair share of outreach-- some in the form of classroom visits to various grade levels, and some in the form of family nights. The patron-return bang for my hourly buck, I'd venture to guess, is in the former. BUT that doesn't mean that I'm not constantly looking for ways to up the ante with my family night offerings.

One might say that I have high expectations for outreach, but I will admit that I don't think there's any reason that, at a non-profit evening where everyone's aim is equal, the public library's table can't be the go-to place that everyone wants to visit. The most happening kiosk on the block, I guess.

Is this too much to try for, or is the very nature of family nights too ingrained and out of our control? Are we doomed to scrounge and scatter for every visitor we can get?

Last weekend I found inspiration in an unexpected place: the Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine, and Cheese Fest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Break at the Library: Stealth Programming For Days

So first off all, can we give a big round of applause to Chris from Criplold for her stellar  redesign of my blog? She's a graphic design artist, and had an awesome deal while she was distracting herself from other things. Chris is lovely to work with and hella creative. And I don't use the word "hella" lightly. Do you think I came up with any of this? Absolutely not. This is 100% Chris, and I'm kinda in love with it. Hit her up at her blog or on Twitter  to tell her how cool she makes me look, and to ask how you can be cool too.

OKAY, SO: Spring Break. The one week in the school year that tells you what a wuss you've become since last Summer Reading; the glimpse of what's to come that makes you rethink your day for maximum caffeine consumption. This Spring Break for our public schools also was National Library Week, and our library had a program where people could take selfies of themselves, tag them online with a hashtag, and be entered in a drawing for gift cards. I loved this idea, and was sure patrons would be into it; but in YS we looked for ways it could translate for kids.

Of course, there was only one answer:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"K-5 Programming": Differentiating in the Library

This week I had a program where I picked the incorrect book. It was a good book, and good for the topic, and a perfect read-aloud for 8-12 year-old kids.
...Problem was, the day of the program, 4-8 year-old kids showed up. I still "read" the book, skimming pages while following the story; but I left the program disappointed in myself. Why hadn't I prepared for this? Why didn't I just skip the book when I saw who was there? 

I'm kind of glad this came up, because another Iron Fist post has been rattling around in my head, this time about helping kids navigate your programming for success. Truly, the following post is probably step #1 in Traditional Programming Child Management: is your program developmentally appropriate? This is really important to think about now that we're all trying STE(a)M at our libraries. I'm not saying that toddlers can't love learning about the weather or that fifth graders can't love sensory activities; but: how are these ideas presented? Are you explaining clouds in a tangible way that toddlers can connect to their world? Are you talking to fifth graders about the weird things their senses do every day without their knowledge to screw with their heads so they're interested? If they're bored out of their skulls, kids will let you know by acting out. Chaos or disinterest in your program is not their fault, it's yours.

I don't say that to be harsh, I promise. I say that to empower us all: their interest in your program is under your control. 

As I thought about my book of choice, and how disappointed in myself I was, I realized that my programming is influenced by education in a way that I never realized before: differentiating instruction.