Summer reading is coming to an end, and school is starting up soon. In fact, where I live, some schools start next week! As we transition into fall, the start of a new semester gives librarians ample opportunities to reach out beyond our typical users and let non or infrequent users know about our programs and services. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a discussion at the City Club of Cleveland pertaining to the Whole Child Framework adopted by the Ohio Department of Education. Meryl Johnson, a member of the Ohio State Board of Education, Dr. Tracy Nájera, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, and Joseph Spiccia, superintendent of the Wickliffe City School District were members of a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Lisa Damour, author, psychologist, and Senior Advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University.
Since re-opening to the public, the libraries in my system have encountered more and more families in need of referrals to other agencies for food, other essentials, support for special needs, parenting, etc. We are especially finding this in our Kindergarten Readiness programming. More than half of these children’s lives have been lived since the pandemic began, and, understandably, parents have been at times reluctant to have their children involved in activities outside of the home, even regarding assistance for special needs. I am hopeful this trend will change now with the ability to vaccinate at 6 months. However, we will still see several cohorts of children affected by this isolation. Some of these needs the library can address directly. We work with our local foodbank to offer summer lunch programs at our eligible branches. All branches have granola bars available to feed hungry kids on demand. Several branches offer…
This past month, my library system has allowed certain toys (plastic, easily washed) to come back on the floor and to be used in programming, with daily (or more) cleaning. Parents and children alike are delighted, and library staff rejoiced that our baby playtimes can return. Several branches are designated Family Place Libraries, and we had been holding socially distanced “play” programs that aimed to give parents tools to guide their children in play, but which were certainly not as robust and developmentally appropriate as a full playtime.
As summer approaches, it’s time to ramp up our readers’ advisory skills for the onslaught of summer reading. (Hopefully) Coming out of the pandemic, avoiding the summer slide will be more important than ever, and more kids may be struggling with reading thanks to disrupted schooling. How do we make sure we get the right books into the hands of students?
April is National Poetry Month! How are you going to celebrate? My library system allows cardholders to sign up for daily poems sent to their email, along with a prompt for those interested in creating their own poetry.
At my previous library branch, I had the pleasure of working, for seven years, surrounded by the artwork of the late, great Ashley Bryan. I also met him when he came to admire the branch, and he was an absolute delight, both to library staff and to the local school children he visited. I, along with countless others, mourned his passing earlier this month. The memory of how excited the kids were to meet the artist who “decorated” their library stand out as a career highlight. I imagine that Mr. Bryan’s Let it Shine! is a childhood favorite of these young people, who are now high school upperclassmen, if my math is correct. They were second graders when we opened the new branch in 2012. I remember thinking that Mr. Bryan’s energy, being that he was in his late 80s at the time, was astounding, as he engaged the kids…
I enjoy anticipating the Youth Media Awards every year. I love to see if they honor my favorite books and to create a to-be-read list of unfamiliar titles. I also enjoy getting in on the action, if you will, by participating in several Mock Awards. Happily, our youth collection development specialist organizes Mock Awards for our library system. And, while we work for a large system (Cuyahoga County Public Library), I believe anyone can do so.