Blogger Alexa Newman

Eclipse Madness : Zombies Might be Easier

In case you are one of the 18 people who  haven’t yet heard the news: there’s going to be a total solar eclipse on August 21st, that will cross the United States. Media coverage of this rare occurrence  is exploding. It’s exciting to have such an enthusiastic response from the public.  It’s also a little intimidating.     Along with 4799 other public libraries, my library was lucky enough to be selected for the eclipse viewing glasses grant. The 2017 Solar Eclipse project is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5373 to the Space Science Institute.  When I applied months ago, barely anyone had heard about the event. It hardly made a ripple in the programming pond.  Some of my colleagues questioned why we would need so many pairs of the glasses. I strenuously asserted that, yes, we would need every single pair. It turns out…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Finding Outside Performers on a Tight Budget (or No Budget)

Today many school and public libraries are dealing with budget cuts. Unfortunately, hiring outside performers is often the first thing to go.  With a little ingenuity, there are many ways to bring a wide variety of performers to your library for little or no money. Your local and regional parks departments can be a wonderful resource. Look to surrounding communities as well as your immediate town or city, because they are often eager to visit. In my county the different departments offer everything from traveling animal ambassadors to naturalists, and from storytellers to historical interpreters.     I’ve booked programs on local wildlife for elementary age children, and ambassadors from the petting zoo for the preschoolers.     Another get resource are local and regional museums. For example, my county has a mobile exhibit housed in a converted bus. The museum waives the customary fee since we are a fellow governmental…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Teaching Gardens and Junior Master Gardeners

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” ~ Cicero. Well, I’ve got everything I need and more!  Besides being a Youth Services Librarian, I am a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. (That means I’ve had training, continuing education, and lots of volunteer hours). In fact, I’m so lucky I have established and manage a Teaching Garden here at the Algonquin Area Public Library. As an EMG, I teach many classes and present programs at libraries, conferences, and for civic groups At my library, our Teaching Garden is celebrating its second birthday. The garden consists of raised beds with a variety of different gardens. Last year we had a square foot garden, a cutting garden, a kids garden, and a sensory garden. The first year was a learning experience for me and we learned that weeds are our biggest  bugaboo, especially since our next door…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Kits, Bundles, and Theme Bags: Do You Have Them, and, What Do You Call Them?

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…

Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Book Discussions for the Primary Grades

School-age book clubs in libraries are nothing new. They’ve been a staple of public library youth programs for decades. However, they are usually geared towards youth in middle grades and rarely include extension activities. Students in primary grades fall into a gap: they’re past storytime, but not ready for chapter book discussions. How do we bridge this gap?  One way is to form a book discussion group for younger readers. For the past 12 years, I’ve conducted a monthly beginners’ level book discussion for students in grades Kindergarten through Second grade. We usually read a picture book, but have also read graphic novels and shorter chapter books. The kids don’t read the books before we meet – we read the book together. The hour long program has two parts. The first half hour is dedicated to reading and discussing the book. In the second half of the program we do…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Book Lists. We’ve Got ‘Em!

Today I’m dedicating my post to promoting all of the wonderful ALSC book lists that are available resources for you to download, reproduce, and distribute to your patrons/students. You can customize most of the lists and include library information such as your hours and address. Why reinvent the wheel? Take advantage of the hard work done by ALSC committees and use these awesome lists. Many of the lists have been created by the Quicklists Consulting Committee. Other committees that have created some great book lists are the School Age Programs and Services Committee, the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, and the International Relations Committee. The committee members put a lot of thought, research, and effort into creating these lists. Several of the bibliographies are annotated. Three of the newest include the 2017  Building STEAM with Dia list, Mismatched Pairs: Paired Nonfiction and Fiction for Tweens, and the Unity. Kindness. Peace.  book list. A…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Not Just Tinkering Around

Tinker  verb | tin*ker   : to work in the manner of a tinker; especially :  to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner I had the opportunity to sit down last week with Alison Tseng, the Youth Services Technology Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District to talk about Tinker. (Full disclosure:   Alison is my coworker and sits at the desk right across from me, so it was an easy-peasy trip.)

ALA Midwinter 2017

Planes, Trains, and History in the Making #alamw17

I, Too, am America What an amazing weekend it has been, and it’s only half over! First, the country witnessed  the presidential inauguration on Friday.  All politics aside, it is a touchstone event in our nation’s history. I haven’t missed viewing an inauguration since Carter (it is within the realm of possibility that  I saw Nixon and Johnson’s, too)  Anyway,  /while I was waiting at the gate  at the airport, I was able to catch the vice presidential and presidential oaths of office before boarding my flight to Atlanta. Being able to   And, as per usual, there were plenty of librarians on the plane.  Oh, and Packers fans.  Lots of Packers fans. Someone said something about a football game on Sunday.   This afternoon, I had the opportunity to ride the train. It is probably can best be described as an adventure (or at least fodder for an amazing story)…