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 opportunity to test products before purchasing personal copies. All of the collections circulate for three weeks each, and are renewable.
Preschool Theme Bags
Our collection of Preschool Theme Bags is our oldest specialty kit collection. These totes are targeted at the preschool audience and are perfect for teachers and parents alike. The bags are grouped into subjects popular units of study. Each theme bag has a variety of materials and can include items such as books, dvds, puppets, puzzles, playsets, musical instruments, toys, storytelling pieces and activities. Some of the most popular themes include dinosaurs, apples, pumpkins, potty training, getting ready for preschool, community helpers, and pop up books. We also have many storytelling sets (The Napping House is one example) that include a copy of the picture book, an activity guide, and several soft storytelling pieces to bring the story to life.
In 2015 The Library started a STEM Kit collection. Our kits range from constructing pulleys and levers with LEGO Education, building circuits with Snap Circuits, studying bugs or rocks, and building with Magna Tiles, and from Code a pillars, and keva planks to microscopes and makey makeys. The kits vary in interest and age range. We recommend them ages 5 and up.
Early Learning Kits
Early Learning Kits are a collection of educational materials for young learners that was established in 2016. From preschool into the early elementary grades, we have kits that cover common curriculum topics. This is a great way to make a home connection with what your child is learning at school, a great resource for homeschooling families,
or simply an easy way to incorporate learning into playtime. The kits come in a clear backpack and include games, manipulatives, flashcards, and more that will help youngsters grasp a concept, or practice a skill, and have fun doing so.
Examples of Early Learning Kits currently in circulation include fractions, sorting, balancing, sequencing, shapes, rhyming, lacing, unifix cubes, alphabet, and counting.
Book Bundles are our newest collection. These are mostly time-savers. Librarians and YS staff gather materials on specific topics and bundle them together with a cute label. It seems like an incredibly simple idea, but the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. The bundles are flying off the shelves.
What types of materials collections does your library circulate? Do you have any innovative new ideas? Maybe you have been doing this for years and have some great advice to share. We’d love to hear from you.
How does a library get involved in this and what are the costs to the library that wants STEM kits?