Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts in … Collaboration

Do you remember when you were in school and your professor assigned the dreaded group project? You immediately thought of with whom you wanted to work and which students gave you concern. You feared you’d be stuck doing all of the work or were afraid you’d appear inadequate to your classmates. All of those feelings continue into the professional realm (especially the one about inadequacy), but luckily, I work at a library where we foster the culture of collaboration. Frequent alliances across departments and within the community help to assuage those fears of working with others and make us experts in collaboration. In August of this year, inspired by national events, our Children’s Services Department partnered with the Adult and Teen Services Departments to host a Families Together program. This program featured a Bilingual Spanish Storytime and a presentation on reliable news sources. While we did not have a huge…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts at…Interactive Displays

Take a Photo, it will last longer: Connecting Photo Booths & Book Displays In the summer, our library team had created a small photo booth with some props related to the Summer Reading Theme: Libraries Rock! We had it semi-close to our display area that had a rotation of books related to the theme as well. The engagement with the props and book display were shockingly high! Kids loved playing on the air guitars and families asked library staff to take their picture. When summer was over, we packed it up, but still had families asking us when and what would be the next photo booth. Why Do Interactive Displays? Interactive displays that correlate with a book display can help all library users connect library materials with fun activities, or visually help them reflect on a topic. An interactive display, whether this is a photo booth or activity, can start conversations…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Librarians are Experts in Sensory Play

Nearly two years ago I wrote a guest post for ALSC entitled “Sensory Shenanigans! Starting a Sensory Play Time at Your Library.” I’ve planned and led many sensory play times since then, and have learned a few tricks to keep this program sustainable.  Needless to say I was a bit idealistic when I first started: I thought it would be entirely reasonable to lead such a program once a month, and maintain the one hour set up and one hour clean up.  I’m now going on three years of Sensory Play Time and many, many iterations of the program. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned: Messier isn’t always better Because I branded this program as “all of the messy stuff you see on Pinterest and don’t want to do at home,” I worked myself into a corner.  I felt like I needed to have the messiest and…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts at Family Engagement

Children’s librarians are experts at family engagement.  Sure, these happy-faced public servants spend countless hours greeting the adults who accompany their young charges, but this is just the beginning. Engaging with families by meeting them where they are and making a meaningful connection is the children’s librarian’s super power. We are in a unique position to provide free, accessible services and spaces where families can spend time playing, learning and relaxing together in a low stakes environment. These early connections often lead to life long relationships with the library and its librarians. Our programs are often the first places families come when they are new to the community, new to the country or new to the work of parenting. For example, our library has had a program which employed immigrant parents who had graduated from our ESL classes as bilingual “Discovery Guides” in our Children’s Discovery Library. By overcoming language…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts at Displays

Walking into any library’s Youth Services Department should be a welcoming, engaging, and fun experience. At the Deerfield (IL) Public Library, we are fortunate to have two large glass cases that house displays of our own making and, more importantly, artwork from our community. Our in-house displays promote just about every aspect of Youth Services, from books and other materials to programs and Summer Reading. Displays from the community send the strong message that our library is a proud partner with many local organizations. To make the community displays a reality, I reach out in August to each preschool director, elementary and middle school art teacher, our homeschool families, as well as two organizations that serve adults to schedule the displays. It currently works that each group can have a month in the display case, but in the past, we’ve also hosted displays for two weeks in order to fit…