Blogger Heather Acerro

Program in a Post: Cotton Swab Pointillism

With this post and around $15 (or less), you can encourage young artists to try a fun new technique. Supplies: Paint (washable tempera or liquid watercolors) Paint cups Cotton Swab Paper Room Set Up: Like Art Links, Squart, or Art on the Spot, this is a great activity to take out on the road to community outreach events. This is a favorite activity for our ArtCart. Program Prep: We like to cut the paper into half sheets (around 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″). Pour some paint in the bottom of your cups and place a few cotton swabs in each color. Invite kids and grown ups to make art. This is a super simple, colorful, and engaging activity!

Blogger Heather Acerro

Are Your Forms In Order?

I don’t know about you, but I love challenges to library materials. Challenges provide an opportunity for librarians to step back and evaluate not only the item that has been challenged, but also our philosophy, policies, and procedures. While book challenges don’t happen every day, they are certainly something that libraries are prepared to handle. All you need is a diverse collection, fully trained staff, and a solid selection and reconsideration policy in place and you are ready for anything. Last year, we observed that we were getting more challenges for displays and events than we were for library materials. With no official procedure in place for handling these challenges, we were inconsistent as the process really depended on who spoke with the customer. Since our staff put as much care into selecting displays, exhibits, and programs, we needed a way to approach these challenges with the same thoughtfulness that…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Summer Reading Slump

Hey, how are you holding up? It is about halfway through the summer reading season, and I am sure you are exhausted! Please remember to take care of yourself. Here are some ideas to get started: If you haven’t done so already, plan a vacation. Even taking a few days off to stay home and do things not related to work. Basically, get something to look forward to on your calendar. Take a walk. Since you get breaks, I encourage you to take them and get outside to enjoy summer for a few minutes. Read an uplifting book. One that I highly recommend is “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman. I’ve dedicated my summer to Up Lit and found several lists online. Binge (or just regular watch) an excellent show. Here are some of my current favorites: *Queer Eye (Netflix): So much more than a makeover, this is…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Summer Playlist on the Road

To build participation in Summer Playlist, our twelve-week long summer reading program, we launched a new initiative during 2018. With a focus on reaching new audiences and reducing barriers, we selected five Bookmobile stops in targeted areas of the community to offer hands-on activities and distribute free produce grown by local elementary and high school students. RPL’s Bookmobile Matrix, which takes into account: population density, diversity, areas of low income, transportation barriers, and distance to the library, provided critical information for developing a high-impact schedule for Summer Playlist on the Road. These stops were visited on a two-week rotation throughout the summer for a total of 28 events featuring the following enrichment activities: food-themed storytimes, sidewalk chalk drawings, string art, solar prints, salad spinner art, fish prints, watercolors, art straw sculptures, and coffee filter butterflies. Other Bookmobile stop activities included: new library card registration, checking out books, promoting Summer Playlist,…

Awards & Scholarships

National Medal for Museum and Library Service

It has been a big, huge, enormous, gigantic, week at Rochester (MN) Public Library. After our second year of being named a finalist , we are honored to be a winner of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Service! Let that soak in. And then read it again: We are honored to be a winner of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Service! That is a great sentence, but it is nowhere near the whole story. This award is the result of years of listening to our community, living our strategic plan & core values, being agile, taking risks, failing, succeeding, measuring outcomes, and listening some more. We strive to increase equity by targeting services to those who have limited access due to language, finances, health, safety, literacy, or other…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Balancing Act

I will admit that I am a sucker for planners, calendars, and any book that promises to help me organize my life. And yes, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and my sock drawer looks amazing. While I would recommend Marie Kondo’s book if you are looking for inspiration to de-clutter, today I’m recommending a title that will help you with not only clutter, but also with that nebulous thing called work-life balance: The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Christine Carter. While you are welcome to sit down and read the book cover to cover, Carter recommends dipping into the book where you need it most. Included throughout are proven strategies for taking charge of yourself and your life by backing away from busy and overwhelm, figuring out what is most important to you, and focusing there to create a more satisfying and…

Blogger Heather Acerro

RPL’s ArtCart: Spinning Creativity

Back in April, when we were looking forward to the start of summer in Minnesota, Rochester Public Library introduced a new ArtCart. The ArtCart complements our 2015 Local Government Innovation Award-winning BookBike, a bicycle pulled trailer that provides access to books and DVDs, library cards, and advisory services within downtown and in nearby low-income neighborhoods. Over summer 2017 the ArtCart, an art room on wheels, traveled alongside the BookBike bringing fun and creative activities to the community.         Some of our favorite art activities included: Flyswatter Painting Salad Spinner Art Q-Tip Pointilism Collaborative Community Mural Chalk Art Solar Prints From easy and cheap to fairly complicated and expensive, the projects changed out on a two-week rotation in order to keep the ArtCart fresh and interesting for repeat customers. We made 74 stops over the summer months and had 3,672 visitors! We surveyed our customers and found that:…

Blogger Heather Acerro


At PLA 2016, I attended the “How Two Libraries Quit Summer Reading and You Can, Too” program with the real hope (deep in my heart) that I would never, ever, ever do a summer reading program (SRP) again. You already know where this is going. That program title was a trick to get me in the door, but the presentation was full of good stuff that re-invigorated my team to finally make the changes to our SRP that we had been imagining for years. That PLA session was the inspiration that made us examine everything we were doing and start over. Let’s begin with a tour of the past. Our SRP wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a team effort, but rather a task on someone’s to-do list. Since SRP isn’t an easy program for one person to put together, we knew this was a practice that needed to change. Also,…