Guest Blogger

You Can Take the Librarian Out of the Library…

Or can you? An hour after landing in Kansas City for #ALSC22, I was already on my way to the Central branch of the Kansas City Public Library system. I loved it so much that I came back the next day to watch storytime and catch up on work email before the opening session! 

I thought the parking garage was the library at first… oops! FYI, the library is located further down the street in a historic bank building.

Kansas City Library Parking Garage
KC Central Library Parking Garage: Stone steps shaped like a stack of books lead up to the entrance. The walls feature book spines spanning 25 feet.

First stop: Central Youth Services on the second floor!

Central Youth Services Room Entrance: Giant book pages with quotes from famous children’s books surround the colorful staircase. 

When you reach the top of the stairs, sign the guest book and grab some library swag. Many thanks to the Youth Services team for the warm welcome!

Welcome Table: A sign welcomes ALSC attendees. Tabletop goodies include bookmarks made from recycled board books; vinyl stickers; pens; coloring books; scavenger hunts and zines.

While I walked through the children’s and teen areas, I was impressed by how much every available space was utilized – including the walls! From magna tiles to magnetic poetry and even spooky Sudoku, self-directed programming caught my eye everywhere I looked.

Sudoku Wall: A 9 by 9 grid with spooky-themed numbers, instructions for game play and numbered sticky notes.

Speaking of self-directed programming and displays, here’s a few more things I noticed and loved:

Digital Signage in the Teen Area: A large TV screen rotates through slides promoting different library services and programs. The current slide showcases a book recommendation by a teen. Kendall, 17, recommends Nine Lives of a Black Panther by Wayne Pharr for “anyone who wants to know Black history.” 

Book Display: Blank speech bubble cutouts hover above selected wordless picture books. The display includes bookmarks featuring tips for reading wordless picture books with children.

Spot the Difference Mural Scavenger Hunt: Spot six differences between the printed picture and the real mural! Created by children’s book author and illustrator Lisa Campbell Ernst, the mural features a smiling white child standing in the center on top of a stack of books. The child is surrounded by other children, adults and animals flocking toward the center and carrying books.

Tabletop Art Prompt: Draw Something Creepy

Would You Rather: A bowl of fuzzy craft poms sits between two jars labeled “splash in muddle puddles” or “jump in crunchy leaves.”

The Youth Ghost Story Contest also caught my eye. The contest invites tweens ages 10-14 to unleash their fearsome imaginations in 600 words or less. The winners will get to see their stories performed at the Kansas City Repertory Theater – how cool is that?! 

I also snagged a brochure for the Reading Partners Program. This year-round program encourages caregivers to read with their children. Families receive a free book to help grow their home library for every 20 books read together. I absolutely love this idea! 

While you’re on the second floor, take a moment to swing by the Young at Art Caldecott Exhibit. If you still have time afterwards, see the sights from the rooftop terrace and explore the underground film vault!

Durwood Film Vault: Jessica stands in the center of the 35 ton steel door entrance. The theater room can be glimpsed in the background.

Guest contributor Jessica Fredrickson (she/her/hers) is a Youth Services Librarian for Arapahoe Libraries. For the past three years, Jessica has served on the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Steering Committee, spearheading the collaborative ALSC/CLEL Virtual Storytime Services Guide. Professionally, Jessica is known for advocating for accessibility and giving storytime flannels early math makeovers. Her favorite things include tea, mountain hikes and middle grade fiction. She is looking forward to attending her first ALSC Institute!

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

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