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!
This past month, I fortunately attended a training on Reimagining School Readiness that focused on Growth Mindset. The Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) and Center for Childhood Creativity developed a position paper after performing a comprehensive review of current psychology literature. The purpose? To draw out how research can be used by educators and families to give children the skills and the learning experiences that matter most for later success in school and in life.
The Preschool Puppet Show presented by the librarians in Children’s Services at the Allen County Public Library has been a long running and popular event with children and their grown-ups in our community. The Puppet Show is normally held annually in Spring. Our entire department is involved in the event in one way or another, but the bulk of responsibility for the show usually falls on three librarians each year. Who these librarians are has varied throughout the years as the torch has been handed around.
In August, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to eliminate late fines for overdue books and materials borrowed from LA County Library. In her announcements to staff and customers, LA County Library Director Skye Patrick shared that fines and fees for overdue materials impede access to vital library resources and services and contribute to economic hardship, especially for low-income families and youth. Other libraries have reported that fines and fees disproportionately impact their low-income communities, and going fine free has resulted in a significant increase in the return and borrowing of library materials. I am already hearing expressions of appreciation from parents visiting my library location. As one of the largest library systems in the U.S. with 85 libraries providing services to over 3.4 million residents across 3,000 square miles, the potential positive impact of the LA County Board of Supervisors’ decision is immense.
To extend our reach and eliminate any barriers to service, we have partnered with our county school system to provide student accounts. Students can use their school account number as a library card, granting them access to print and online library materials. After a year and a half of virtual school, students are back to in-person learning. Do they have all the materials they need to succeed?