Blogger Alexa Newman

Engaging Your Community : What Does That Mean?

A definition Community engagement is an important emerging trend in public libraries.  What, exactly, is community engagement, you ask? Well, according to Dr. Crispin Butteriss of Bangthetable.com, it can be described as both a process and an outcome.  In other, words it is both a noun and a verb.  Butteriss further describes it as “the process of getting people better connected into the community and for ensuring that the services they were designing me[e]t the specific needs of the people they are working with.” Applying the principles of community engagement specifically to libraries has been the focus of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.  The LTC initiative “seeks to strengthen librarians’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents.” On a regional level, RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) has formed a community engagement networking group. I am my library’s youth liaison to the community.   I do outreach with several different agencies,…

Blogger Alexa Newman

A Super! Library Card, or, A Nerd Finds Bliss with a Piece of Plastic

September was Library Card Sign-Up Month, and my library promoted it, as did many of yours, I’m sure. ALA offered several promotional aids, downloads, and materials for Library Card Sign-Up Month. This year’s honorary chairs were the Teen Titans. Cool, huh?! Some libraries partner with local businesses to offer discounts when you present your library card. The Crystal Lake Public Library in Crystal Lake, IL (my home library) is one such library. Businesses they have partnered with include both national and locally owned shops and restaurants including Wendy’s, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, and Jersey Mikes. My library offered small gifts for both patrons signing up for new cards and for people who just showed their cards to desk staff. We also offered a limited edition Teen Titans library card. What was extra cool, in my humble and nerdy opinion, was that patrons (and staff) could exchange their current card for the…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Growing Pains

  Jackhammers, shattering glass, cranes, bulldozers, earthmovers, and more.  Things have been pretty chaotic for me and my coworkers this past month.  We have started a Library expansion project.  So, that’s where my mind has been turned lately. It’s been exciting and frustrating in turns.  The construction noise has been a challenge for us and our patrons. I wish I could accurately describe the cacophony.  It is fun to watch the construction work and to chart the progress of the project.       We are packing up books and furniture to put into storage: the movers arrived this morning.  Finding materials has become a bit of an adventure. Many collections have been shifted or moved entirely.  Shelving is coming down and being relocated. Meanwhile we are trying to carry on programming and services as per usual.   We are running five youth programs this morning, one youth and one teen program this…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Eclipse Madness : Zombies Might be Easier

In case you are one of the 18 people who  haven’t yet heard the news: there’s going to be a total solar eclipse on August 21st, that will cross the United States. Media coverage of this rare occurrence  is exploding. It’s exciting to have such an enthusiastic response from the public.  It’s also a little intimidating.     Along with 4799 other public libraries, my library was lucky enough to be selected for the eclipse viewing glasses grant. The 2017 Solar Eclipse project is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5373 to the Space Science Institute.  When I applied months ago, barely anyone had heard about the event. It hardly made a ripple in the programming pond.  Some of my colleagues questioned why we would need so many pairs of the glasses. I strenuously asserted that, yes, we would need every single pair. It turns out…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Finding Outside Performers on a Tight Budget (or No Budget)

Today many school and public libraries are dealing with budget cuts. Unfortunately, hiring outside performers is often the first thing to go.  With a little ingenuity, there are many ways to bring a wide variety of performers to your library for little or no money. Your local and regional parks departments can be a wonderful resource. Look to surrounding communities as well as your immediate town or city, because they are often eager to visit. In my county the different departments offer everything from traveling animal ambassadors to naturalists, and from storytellers to historical interpreters.     I’ve booked programs on local wildlife for elementary age children, and ambassadors from the petting zoo for the preschoolers.     Another get resource are local and regional museums. For example, my county has a mobile exhibit housed in a converted bus. The museum waives the customary fee since we are a fellow governmental…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Teaching Gardens and Junior Master Gardeners

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” ~ Cicero. Well, I’ve got everything I need and more!  Besides being a Youth Services Librarian, I am a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. (That means I’ve had training, continuing education, and lots of volunteer hours). In fact, I’m so lucky I have established and manage a Teaching Garden here at the Algonquin Area Public Library. As an EMG, I teach many classes and present programs at libraries, conferences, and for civic groups At my library, our Teaching Garden is celebrating its second birthday. The garden consists of raised beds with a variety of different gardens. Last year we had a square foot garden, a cutting garden, a kids garden, and a sensory garden. The first year was a learning experience for me and we learned that weeds are our biggest  bugaboo, especially since our next door…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Kits, Bundles, and Theme Bags: Do You Have Them, and, What Do You Call Them?

Are you looking for new and different ways to get learning resources into the hands of your patrons? For the past couple of years, my library (the Algonquin Area Public Library in Algonquin, Illinois)  has been adding new collections of kits, bundles, and theme bags. They are proving to be very popular with our patrons; so much so that we are expanding them and looking for new ideas to explore. In this post, I’ll be introducing four of our most popular formats. These learning resources are valuable on several fronts. They are time savers for customers who are in a hurry, but need more than one item on a topic.  Many are aimed at building early literacy skills, or focus on specific academic subject areas. Others are great budget savers.They can be checked out and returned, and families don’t have to buy expensive toys and gadgets, instead they have the…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Book Lists. We’ve Got ‘Em!

Today I’m dedicating my post to promoting all of the wonderful ALSC book lists that are available resources for you to download, reproduce, and distribute to your patrons/students. You can customize most of the lists and include library information such as your hours and address. Why reinvent the wheel? Take advantage of the hard work done by ALSC committees and use these awesome lists. Many of the lists have been created by the Quicklists Consulting Committee. Other committees that have created some great book lists are the School Age Programs and Services Committee, the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, and the International Relations Committee. The committee members put a lot of thought, research, and effort into creating these lists. Several of the bibliographies are annotated. Three of the newest include the 2017  Building STEAM with Dia list, Mismatched Pairs: Paired Nonfiction and Fiction for Tweens, and the Unity. Kindness. Peace.  book list. A…