Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Staff Empowerment

My first position as a department head coincided with the opening of a new branch.   It was hectic.   Our branch was the first in a major capital building campaign, and it featured a lot of new technology.  Besides different phones and fax machines, we also had an audio recording studio and a Smartboard.   To top it off…we were short staffed.  Just after the building opened, the head of children’s (I was teen at the time) left for a different position.  Therefore, we had a lot of substitutes in the building for a few months, which was difficult because they were not comfortable with the new equipment.   The department heads (me, the head of adult, and the branch manager) were running ragged.  Not only were we doing our typical job and handling the high volume of visitors we faced the first 6 months, but we were constantly…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Gingerbread House Fun

I’m tired.  Actually, my feet are killing me.  But it was worth it. Last night (as of this writing), my library hosted 70 people in a holiday Gingerbread House decorating program.  Obviously, our customers were excited. A word of digression before I explain how we put on this fun—a concern about diversity. Our branch is in a very diverse area and, although the program had worked in the past, I was concerned.  While we avoided religious symbols, Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, and the rest of the secular Christmas gang were represented in the candy used for decoration.  We did have blue and white frosting available if anyone wanted to make a Hanukkah-themed house.  Several members of our new-immigrant Southern Indian community did come and participate.  I would think hard about your community, as there are ways to do a fun “house” program that could be inclusive. We did a Halloween haunted…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Maker Space Fun for Kids

My branch has a maker space we call the Innovation Center.  It includes a 3-D printer, a laser engraver, a Cricut, a heat press, a programmable robotic arm, Snap Circuits, Arduinos, and more. The challenge is to come up with kid-friendly programs that utilize this space.  Typically, children cannot use the Innovation Center without a trained adult present, for good reason, considering the dangers of the equipment. A few years ago, when I was at another branch, staff at my current branch offered a Halloween Trick-or-Treat bag program, where they pre-cut heat-transfer vinyl on the Cricut and then heat-pressed the vinyl to multi-colored bags.  The program was very popular and had a long waiting list.  This year, we decided to offer the program again—two days in a row to accommodate double the amount of people!  We accepted 12 registrations per program.  With parents and some no-shows, we had 20 people…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Fall Fun Preschool STEAM

The past sixth months, I’ve been finding my programming “legs” at a new branch.  With my team’s help, we had some wildly successful summer school age programs, but, with school now back in session, I wanted to offer some additional programming for our younger friends. A colleague of mine from Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Fairview Park Branch, Jennifer Haag, had presented on Preschool STEAM at an Ohio Library Council Chapter Conference a few years ago.  It was a wonderful presentation, offering a full year of monthly program plans.  So, to dip my toes in the water, I chose ONE of her programs—October—to try this year. Quite simply—it was a lot of fun. The families and staff performed all the science experiments together, and then participants had the opportunity to spend time at Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math stations throughout the room.   Which liquids will dissolve candy corn and peeps—water,…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Readers’ Advisory Review

A coworker commented to me that we’ve recently had a slew of kids asking us for book recommendations, which is perhaps not surprising coinciding with the new school year.  Therefore, it might be time for a Readers’ Advisory tune up. I am always interested in how other librarians approach book recommendations and am happy to share my own ideas.  I try to talk to the actual child if they are present, even if their adult is a little pushy and/or the child is shy.  I usually ask what grade they are in, and what books they have enjoyed in the past.  At this point, reluctant readers will typically shrug.  I then ask what they like outside of reading—are they into sports?  Video games? Stranger Things?  Other shows or movies?  What do they watch on YouTube? Do they like animals?  The more I know about children, the better chance to pair…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

In Defense of Slime

In my June blog, I talked about a summer drop-in program pilot occurring in my library, including the successes and the challenges. Since that article, we have had several more popular and overwhelming programs, including one in which 75 people (!!) came to have Messy Science fun…including slime making.   As you might imagine, this was more than a bit overwhelming, and more than a little pricey. We went though 4 gallons of slime.  I had NO idea we’d get so many people, and luckily, I tend to overbuy and had enough.  I joke that it’s the same impulse my Italian family has to ensure 3 times the amount of needed food is available at every family get-together.   However, what I wanted to talk about was a comment I fielded the next day when a customer overheard staff talking about the huge turnout—why do libraries bother with slime programs?…

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Drop-In and Have Fun

Summer is crazy-busy for children’s librarians in public libraries—I’m sure I don’t have to say much more for ALSC blog readers to understand.  Besides our Summer Reading Game, my library system has high-quality summer camps at each branch. The camps are typically weekly, and ages range from entering kindergarten to 18 years old.  They span from art to STEAM to magic topics.  They are lots of fun.   As you might imagine, these free camps are extremely popular—most of them fill the first day registration opens.  This fact leaves many of our patrons unable to participate in them.  To fill that gap, my branch, along with three others, was asked to pilot a drop-in program where all can attend.   The chosen branches are very different from each other geographically, demographically, and socio-economically.  My branch’s community is very diverse within itself, including both affordable apartments and small homes populated by…