There is a barn in a park filled with children and their families, a gigantic pumpkin and stories… At Wilsonville Public Library, the Youth Services team that I work with had many discussions, probably very similar to discussions heard in other libraries across the county, how best to bring back in-person storytimes. And probably, like many of the other libraries across the country, we would develop a plan and ready ourselves to implement the plan. But then we would be faced with yet another new pandemic health concern which made us reconsider for the sake and safety of our community. And we would pause on bringing back in-person storytimes. The pause was difficult since we were repeatedly asked by our community for the start date of in-person storytimes. Our community understood and truly appreciated our caution for starting up again, but it was disheartening to say, “not quite yet”, again…
You have a vacancy in your youth services department. How can you make sure that you get the right person for the job and that they will be successful?
In late September, Rochester Public Library (MN) was one of 260 libraries in the nation to receive Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF) support from the Federal Communications Commission. RPL received $619,000 in ECF funding to help close the digital divide in our community.
How can you build and maintain professional connections when you can’t meet up in person? Making a long-distance (or trans-Atlantic!) mentorship work across time zones is no easy task under normal circumstances, and with the additional challenges the pandemic presented, ALSC mentee Aryssa Damron and ALSC mentor Celeste Rhoads had to lay out some ground rules together for communication before beginning our partnership. The ALSC mentorship program was a great opportunity to establish good communication habits across many channels, and many of the tricks and guidelines applied to this working relationship could be used to establish professional connections and maintain relationships with fellow-professionals outside of an official mentorship program.
If you have studied psychology or self-improvement at all, you may have come across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I am not a scientist, but basically it’s a pyramid breakdown of what you need in order to master your life. The things you need to achieve a self-fulfilled life. At the bottom of the pyramid, is the physiological needs like safety, food, water, etc. This moves up until you get to the top where you are self-actualized because you have all your needs met and can really dream.
“Uh, oh!! That patron looks mad!” I remember thinking as they walked determinedly toward the desk early on a Saturday morning. (Any time on a Saturday morning has always been “early,” as far as I’m concerned.) It quickly became clear they were impervious to my welcoming smile and upbeat greeting, and were kicking up quite a flurry of dust balls from the wind they were creating by waving a book in the air. You’ve probably already guessed where this is going: they were unhappy about a book their kid had checked out several days before. Unhappy? More like furious, steaming, aggrieved, and irate. And on the inside I was panicked: looks like today is when a book will be challenged in my library!
The first time I did virtual storytime, I created a Mr. Rogers-inspired background in my living room, broke out some carefully crafted finger puppets, and thoroughly enjoyed performing on Zoom. Over the following weeks, I grew to appreciate many aspects of virtual programming. But, like so many children’s librarians, I also began to feel like something was missing. I wanted to hear giggles, tales of lost teeth, and requests for favorite songs. I missed the kids.
Our library pulled a lot of our fun toys and manipulatives from our children’s section with the advent of the pandemic. Of course, books and our outdoor programs are still a major draw for families to come to our library, but we’ve been trying to come up with other ways to engage families while they visit the library. Our staff has come up with some terrific innovations!