While I often like to shake things up and try new things at the library, sometimes the strength of a library program lies in tradition. Today I’m going to talk about The Eggs:
The Eggs come out in early spring, decorating the ceiling of our Children’s Room, enticing families to sign up for our annual Egg Decorating Workshop. I love this program because it’s fairly easy to run and it’s extremely inexpensive. But what I love best about this program is that it’s been going on for over 25 years. Each year, we add new eggs to the ceiling and the oldest ones were created in 1985. And this year we hung our 1000th egg!
For our workshop, the library provides egg dye, glue, and any kind of decorations you can think of (i.e. whatever is lying around our craft room). We ask families to bring two blown-out eggs per child, one for them to decorate and take home and one for them to decorate and leave at the library. (And yes, we provide instructions on how to blow out an egg! And YES we blow out several dozen extra eggs in case someone forgets, drops in to the program, or breaks an egg.)
After the eggs are decorated, Miss T writes a number on the bottom of the egg and keeps track of who made which egg. When she hangs them up, she writes down the child’s name and the rod number and placement of their egg. If you made an egg at my library in 1990, you would be able to look it up and find it to show your kids today. (A few of the eggs have been broken over the years, but actually not that many. I’d say less than a dozen, probably.)
The eggs are hung on black-painted wooden dowel rods and when they come down, they are stored on the rods in large blue boxes that live on top of the cabinets in our craft room. Putting them up and taking them down are fairly labor intensive processes, but with a couple of great teen volunteers it only takes about an hour. Miss T rallies the troops to put the eggs up in early spring and takes them down again a few weeks after the workshop. Some of my staff members even create their own eggs!
What does egg decorating have to do with the library? Well, you certainly could bring a literature element into this program. Share some spring stories or challenge participants to create book characters with their eggs. Or have a different theme each year and share stories on that theme. But at my library, we don’t do those things. The wonderful thing about the Egg Decorating Workshop is that it has become a tradition for families in our community. Kids can see the eggs their parents made. Teens can look at the eggs they made when they were toddlers. Families can see where they’ve been and remember how much fun they had… at the library.
What programs have become a tradition at your library? How long have you been doing them?
— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
Great question, Abby! I can only imagine having to store 1000 eggs. Yikes.
We have some great traditions at my library. Probably the biggest one is our Summer Reading Carnival, which will be celebrating its 40th year in 2011! It is our traditional summer reading end and is so much fun. A local group brings their “locomotive” and gives the kids rides around town, there are lots of games, and food as well. We generally have about 300 people, so it’s by far our biggest undertaking of the year.
Another very popular program tradition is our puppet shows. I’m not sure exactly when they started, but they’ve been going on around as long as Carnival. So many adults come in and tell me about coming here to see the shows when they were little. It’s fun to hear them reminisce. We always do shows during winter and spring breaks from school and sometimes plan them during other times of the year. They are some of our best attended programs of the whole year.
I think sometimes we get caught up in new and shiny technology, but a good library is a part of its community’s tradition. We will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of our building in 2014 and we are very excited about that!
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