Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Chalk the Walk

You’ve just received that dreaded email asking for your next set of programs. Don’t get me wrong – programs can be fun, programs are actually one of my favorite things about my job as a youth librarian, and maybe you’re prepared with a list of million ideas all ready to go, then again just maybe this one time your mind is drawing a blank.

When trying to come up with new fresh program ideas I always keep the following things in mind:

  1. Budget- The more cost efficient the program the better.

  2. Interest- Are people going to want to come? Will this program bring more people into the library? Is it something parents will want to see their kids participating in and something kids want to do?

  3. Time- Many different librarian tasks can come up on a daily basis, so how much time is planning and preparing this program going to cost me?

  4. Literacy value- What will the patrons get out of this program? Will it educate them in some way or teach them about the library’s resources?

I think it’s safe to say that the simpler the program can meet these goals, the better, which is why when it came time to submit spring program ideas, “Chalk the Walk,” ended up being a success.

“Chalk the Walk,” was a program where parents brought their kids to the library to decorate the sidewalk leading up to the library. I told the kids they could each draw within a designated square and fill as much of it up as possible.

This program didn’t hurt the budget as we already owned bins of sidewalk chalk. It also took very little preparation as all I had to do was bring the chalk outside and let the kids know the “rules.”

People were excited to create something that others would see outside the library. One 10-year-old girl showed up right at the beginning and even brought her own special chalk to use. She was so excited. We also had many people who hadn’t heard about the program ahead of time that stopped to create something when they saw everybody drawing.

Plus, some other bonuses to this program were that it took place outside in a month when Michiganders were itching to get outside after a long winter (The weather was a little cloudy and people were still willing to participate.); it allows younger kids to practice their “writing” skills, which one of the principles in “Every Child Ready to Read”; and it allows older kids to practice their art and creativity skills, which is one of the acronyms of “S.T.E.A.M.”

While the results and skill of the artwork varied greatly, the sidewalk outside the Rochester Hills Public Library ended up being one big collaborative masterpiece in the end.

(Photos courtesy of guest blogger)


Today’s guest blogger is Angela Warsinske. Angela says she has her dream job as a youth services librarian at the Rochester Hills Public Library. She is passionate about early literacy; matching the right book to the right child so they will like reading; and is a big advocate of “say yes to the mess,” when it comes to youth programming. She also loves writing, art, musicals and dancing in general.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.


  1. Niccole

    When I started working at the library I decided to do a Chalk Walk program and we have now done it for three years with increasing attendance each year! It is one of my favorite programs and I look forward to it all year.

    1. Angela Warsinske

      Isn’t it fabulous, Niccole? I was very impressed with all the talent the kids showed with sidewalk chalk and the finished product gave me a great sense of community. It’s something I hope to continue annually.

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