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Pandemic Programming: Connect & Play

In an effort to be responsive to community feedback, our library system resumed limited in-person early literacy activities in October 2021. Storytimes and a drop-in program we call “Connect & Play” are currently underway with a variety of risk-reducing COVID considerations. Connect & Play is a program we have been doing for many years. Here’s the play-by-play I’ve found makes for a successful experience for families in our current environment. Underpinning all the activities are the familiar early learning practices of “Talk, Play, Read, Write, Sing Together,” as well as the principles from Reimagining School Readiness, covered more in-depth in a previous ALSC blog post. Format: A 2-3 hour period where children 0-5 years old and their caregiver/s can drop in for as long as they like. Each week, participants engage with 4-5 stations that support different aspects of early literacy & learning. Each week, the specifics of each station…

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ECPS: New Year, New Projects

As 2021 draws to a close, it seems like just the right time to share a little bit about what the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee has been up to, and what our future plans are! This year has been a tricky one to navigate as a committee, as it surely has been for many readers. It took us some time to get settled as a group, and understand what is possible and useful as conditions changed for libraries. Our original project was to create an online education opportunity on the topic of trauma-informed services as they relate to early childhood and family services. For many reasons, this project was shelved for the time being, though we hope to return to it in the coming months. While a change of plans can be frustrating and feel like a defeat, our committee was fortunately able to focus on an important…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

“I didn’t know the library did that!” Building Better School Partnerships

“I didn’t know the library did that!” How many times have you heard that…this week? Press releases, emails, posters and skywriting do nothing to break through the advertising noise in our communities. Libraries are essential third spaces in our communities so the question is, how can libraries promote our services so people instead say, “Did you know the library did that?” This is especially true when it comes to collaborations with the schools in our service areas. Schools are busy Teachers are busy and they don’t always have time to meet. Administrators wear a lot of different hats and can’t always pass along the emails we send. Add to that a global pandemic, and libraries struggle to show teachers and schools our relevance. What is your goal? Our department’s end goal was to reach more kids through partnerships with teachers. We visit 60 classes a month and reach 1100 students. Most…

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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…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

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…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

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…