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A Barn Full of Stories

There is a barn in a park filled with children and their families, a gigantic pumpkin and stories… At Wilsonville Public Library, the Youth Services team that I work with had many discussions, probably very similar to discussions heard in other libraries across the county, how best to bring back in-person storytimes.  And probably, like many of the other libraries across the country, we would develop a plan and ready ourselves to implement the plan. But then we would be faced with yet another new pandemic health concern which made us reconsider for the sake and safety of our community. And we would pause on bringing back in-person storytimes.  The pause was difficult since we were repeatedly asked by our community for the start date of in-person storytimes.  Our community understood and truly appreciated our caution for starting up again, but it was disheartening to say, “not quite yet”, again…

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Addressing Covid-19 Worries in the Back-to-School Season

I wrote this in quarantine. My toddler had a close contact exposure to Covid-19 in her daycare class and we kept the whole family home out of an abundance of caution. (Everyone is healthy.) It’s a situation many of our patrons and staff may face now that kids have returned to school or pre-school. The Delta variant put a different spin on the usual back-to-school and fall programming, with many libraries still only allowing outdoor or virtual programming. How can we support our patrons during this fraught back-to-school season? First, remember to take care of yourselves. Burnout, compassion fatigue, Covid fatigue—whatever you call it, it’s real. Try to take some time for yourself whether it’s a staycation, regular exercise, or enjoying a hobby. Next, understand the behaviors associated with stress and worry in your patrons. If folks share with you, validate their feelings. Fellow Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Early Childhood Program Plans for Fall 2021

Last week, I posted a link on ALA Connect to a very informal Google Forms survey to collect some data on plans for early childhood programming for this coming fall, and also shared it with heads of children’s departments here in Suffolk County, NY. So far 40 people have filled out the survey! Thank you all so much for providing this data, an overview of which I’ll be sharing in this post.   Concerns about what conditions we’ll be facing this coming fall are on everyone’s minds as we plan programs and services for the remainder of 2021. As of the time of this post, children under 12 are still not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This, combined with concerns about the continuing spread of the Delta variant, has many library staff thinking about how to offer safe and engaging programs for our youngest patrons and families as we move…

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Pivoting to Summer Services at the System Level: Outdoor Storytime Kits for Libraries

For the past several years, public library systems in New York State have received funds through the New York State Family Literacy Library Services Program, with the theme of Ready to Read at New York Libraries through Public Library Systems – in other words, grant funding for programs and services that center on early and family literacy. During any normal year, this is an exciting opportunity for the Youth Services department of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS) to offer new and innovative workshops and shared resources to the staff of our member libraries. But during the past year, as with all things, finding a useful application for these funds became a new challenge. Zoom-based professional development opportunities were one option we went with (including two wonderful workshops from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art that just wrapped up), but we hoped to offer libraries more hands-on tools…

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Libraries Build Readers and Learners

In 2005 I became a children’s librarian, and within weeks of signing the offer letter, the library trained me in Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR). The training couldn’t have happened at a better time in my personal or professional life. The knowledge, skills, and tools I learned changed my career trajectory. Librarians Foster a Love of Reading I thought I learned everything I needed to know about fostering a love of reading during my MLIS program. The ECRR training taught me about neural pathways, brain elasticity, and more. I discovered finding fun and engaging books was only a part of the reading success formula. There was a lot more that went into learning to read. A lot more. Librarians Model Reading Readiness and Learning Sixteen years after my ECRR training and now a children’s services team manager, I find myself at an exciting new learning crossroads. Yes, our checklist…

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Planning for Outdoor Storytimes

I miss in-person storytimes. I miss the cacophony of voices prior to settling into our opening song. I miss encouraging full body movements of the Fruit Salad Song without worrying about fitting everything into the camera frame of a computer. Most of all, I miss watching toddlers scurry about on the fringes of the storytime crowd, absorbing everything. The joy and chaos of an in-person storytime always brings a smile to my face. Now that it’s growing warmer and nicer weather (if not actual sunshine) more consistent, I see many librarians considering outdoor storytimes. I planned an outdoor storytime run as part of my summer programming last year; then Covid hit and shut everything down. Now I’m excited to bring this plan to fruition. What do you need for an outdoor storytime? Here are some things to consider.

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Pet Show & Tell!

I know I speak for many when I say that one pain point of the pandemic is missing interactions with kids. Prior to March, 2020, my Kids & Families core service team made monthly story time visits to preschools, Head Starts, and childcare classrooms. In previous summers, we brought our summer reading program to summer schools, school-aged enrichment programs, and camps. Needless to say, all of that was cancelled. Pivot was the operative word, as we moved to virtual story times, online book clubs, and virtual Crafternoons. From there, more creative ideas developed to engage with kids. Monthly virtual Pet Show & Tell launched during winter break, with staff-hosted 45-minute Zoom sessions: All About Dogs, Crazy for Cats, and Share Your Stuffies. Starting with a pet-themed story, kids then were invited to take turns sharing their pets, with guided questions such as:• What does your pet like to do?• What…

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Singing Brings Connections

Before I was born, my mom was a kindergarten teacher. When I was young, I remember her waking me up most mornings by singing “Good morning to you… good morning to you. We’re all in our places with sunshiny faces. Good morning to you… good morning to you.”  When I started my career as a Children’s Librarian, I decided to begin each storytime with this same song. It gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort in those early days of nervous storytime presentations.  In the subsequent months I began to notice the audience swaying back and forth as I sang, and it was only then that I realized I swayed as I sang too. It was our shared ritual- the singing, the swaying, the pointing at our “sunshiny” cheeks. Something we all looked forward to each week. I remember parents telling me how their child would “play” storytime at…