I used to be good at Reader’s Advisory. A child or caregiver approached the desk, they asked me for book ideas, and I gave them great books. End of transaction. Everybody walks away happy. Now, with my library closed and our school district’s kids home at least through the summer, we’re working on a mix of old and new strategies to help kids and families find the right books for them.
Escape rooms have been around for a few years now, and many library systems were quick to adapt in having escape rooms as library programs within their branches. Many of these programs are designed for the older set – adults (ages 18 +) and teens (ages 12 – 18). When I worked with my coworker, Hayley Burson, on our first escape room, we designed it specifically for teens because we had no idea that families with younger children (ages 5 – 11) would be interested as well. Little did we know that many families of younger children and preteens would ask to participate, so in the future we designed in-branch escape rooms with a common theme with clues that could be changed for specific age groups. Sometimes the younger kids could even solve the clues for young adults faster than they teens could.
As a Youth and Family Services Manager, I make decisions all the time. But to be honest, the most difficult decision I have ever made was deciding to cancel all of our summer in person programming. As many of you who program for families know, the summer is our busiest season. It’s truly the time for public libraries to shine, to showcase their offerings, to provide something special and hook new users, and to engage with the community. So, it’s incredibly difficult to make the decision to not offer in-person programming during that time.
The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order here in Illinois has certainly changed life as we know it. For families that were already homeschooling their children, perhaps not as much has changed, but what is new is the inability to attend library programming. I did what we’re all doing: provide programs online, including our content-based “Homeschool @ the Library” program and our fun “Homeschool Hangout.”
This blog post explores six common web accessibility myths and implications for online library services and programs. Stay tuned for even more information and resources to help you serve diverse children and families in the forthcoming ALSC Virtual Storytime Services Guide! Myth #1: People with disabilities don’t use the internet or interact with my library online. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 U.S. adults experiences disability. The CDC estimates that about one in six children between 3 and 17 years of age have one or more developmental disabilities. There is no library community (or library staff) without disabilities! If individuals with disabilities aren’t interacting with us online, it’s not because they don’t want to – it’s because we’ve made our web content and virtual services inaccessible. Myth #2: It’s not really that important to make youth library programs accessible. Most people with disabilities…
I am used to looking for hard-to-find children’s books, especially self-published ones. I’ve been collecting self-published children’s picture books on assisted reproductive technology since 2003. This is mostly an isolated topic and it was a hobby that began as the result of a reference question. I was asked if there were any children’s books on the subject, and confident in my search skills, I said, “I’ll find out for you.” It turned out not to be an easy topic and I was intrigued enough to dig further. After exhausting all traditional library databases like the Library of Congress catalog and WorldCat, I came up with just a few. The problem was that there were no proper LC subject headings, which meant I would have to resort to keyword searches and pedestrian forms of search like googling.
We are children’s librarians. We can step in front of a group of 200 elementary school children gathered in a multi-purpose room and act out Pizza Man without reservation. We lead hoards of preschoolers in A Tooty Ta Ta. We don yoga clothes and bend our bodies for Stretchy Storytime. We might not be the best singers or crafters, but we happily conduct these programs for our beloved library patrons in house.
I’ve started referring to my home office as the Library Cave. I don’t have a She Shed, and with a house full of people (1 husband, 1 mom, three kids, a cat, a dog, and a gecko), there’s no real “home office” space. Since I have piles of books all over my home, I’ve decided to refer to my home as The Library Cave: it’s comfy, it’s cozy, more than a little chaotic, and it’s mine. So, greetings.