When in-person programming, and indeed even being inside the library, came to a screeching halt in March, at-home librarians across the country began brainstorming ways to reach their customers. At Cuyahoga County Public Library in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, a group came together to create multiple StoryWalk® opportunities around the county.
According to its website, “StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and has developed with the help of Rachel Senechal, Kellogg-Hubbard Library.” Anyone is free to use the idea if the walk includes a statement with the walk. An FAQ that answers many questions is found here.
I’ve been at my current branch for a year, and in that time, I had played with the idea of a StoryWalk®. A city-owned path runs behind the library, and it is frequented by people all year round (and in Northeast Ohio winters, that says something). Not being able to program for our kids finally pushed me to do it.
To me, the most challenging part of the entire endeavor was tearing apart the book. Emotionally, yes, but I’m talking physically. I am not an artsy person, and it’s tricky to disassemble a book. We chose Denise Fleming’s “In a Small, Small Pond.” Decorations from the book already adorn our children’s area, so it seemed appropriate that our first StoryWalk® be the same.
You cannot copy the book due to copyright, but you can take it apart. You will need two copies of your chosen book, as you need both sides of each page. I used a thread cutter to snap thread along the binding. Many of the pages simply lifted out when they were cut. Pages near the front and back had to be carefully pulled away from the binding.
Three of the pages were full spreads that could be used as is…but the other pages had to be cut down the middle and rearranged to make sense. (I recommend taking photos of the book in order before you begin the entire process). I then glued the spreads onto cardstock to keep the spreads together and sent them off to be laminated.
We purchased yard signs with H-frame wire stakes and used industrial strength hook and loop tape (aka generic Velcro) to mount the laminated story pages on the signs.
Our StoryWalk® went up in mid-August, later than I had hoped. The goal is to prepare give different books over the winter so we can change the walk monthly May through September next year. We are also trying to secure funds to purchase more sturdy frames to leave up in inclement weather (aka Cleveland winters).
Responses have been very positive. Looks like kids are having fun! Here’s a list of all our locations that have a StoryWalk®!
This post addresses the core competencies of III. Programming Skills and V. Outreach and Advocacy.