Blogger Alexa Newman

Does Drama Camp Translate to Virtual Format?

O, Social distancing, how thou art a thorn in my side!   For the past seven years, I’ve been running a two week drama camp as one of the many activities my library offers during our summer reading program.  It is, typically, my biggest and most involved program each year.  I’m used to parents and campers rushing into the library to sign up for camp on the first day registration opens.  It is usually filled with a full wait list in just a matter of a day or two. Campers are rising 3rd-8th graders; counselors are high school and college students.  We do Shakespeare in Elizabethan English.  The campers put on a full (albeit abridged) production on the last day of camp.  The camp has steadily grown over the years. The past two years we have been on a real stage, with theater lighting, sound, and av effects.  We’ve done…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Long Time Member, First Time Attendee #PLA2020

Although I have been a librarian for 25 years, and have been attending ALA and Midwinter for as many years, this is my very first PLA conference. I must admit I’ve been a little nervous about being the new kid on the block.  It’s been a mix of the familiar and shiny new to me. Since it is smaller in scale than ALA Annual,  I think it would be a great first conference for new library staff to test the waters. Some of the things I’ve liked the most are the scheduled breaks, free coat check, snacks and bevvies on the exhibit floor,  and the fact that the featured speakers are not in competition with programs and meetings. For me it has been easier to have a more rounded conference experience. I also really enjoyed the yoga class in the Wellness Center this morning.  There are still openings for the…

ALA Midwinter 2020

Mail Those Books and Swag Home #alamw2020

Midwinter is winding down, and many of us are now in possession of bags and bags full of free swag. Books, tote bags, books, pens, books, posters, books …   you get the idea. Instead of trying to squeeze all of your finds into your luggage, consider using the Post Office that’s right on the exhibit hall floor. That’s right. You heard me. There is a temporary U.S. Post Office right on the exhibit floor. I mail all that stuff home. No more struggling to lift that carry on bag into the overheard compartment.  No more repacking at the airport so my bags aren’t over the weight limit. It is so much easier than trying to haul them to plane, train, or automobile. And the added bonus is that I get a package in the mail a few days after I get home.  And there are always a few surprises in…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Yoga and Mindfulness for Kids

I am passionate about yoga, so much so that I went to a yoga school and obtained my certification through Yoga Alliance. Combine that with my love of youth programming, and I had to develop programs for our library.  I teach classes for all ages, from adults (with students over 80!) to preschoolers. My youth programs focus on fun, fitness, and mindfulness.     Yoga has seen a steady increase in interest over the past several years. Yoga for kids is also on the rise. I’ve been conducting yoga storytimes, kids yoga, and tween yoga classes for the past 18 months. They are all popular with our young patrons, with yoga storytime being the most sought after program.   There has been a heightened focus on mindfulness and meditation in the media and with the general public. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness with children can increase concentration and reduce stress…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Storytimes on the Fly

Picture this:  you’re getting settled in for your morning,  maybe getting a cup of coffee, checking emails, going through mail when the message comes in:  someone has called in and now you are going to have to fill in for storytime. With fifteen minutes notice.  And they haven’t gathered their materials together in one place. You’ll have to punt.   This has happened to many of us, mayhap even most of us at least one time in our career.  These moments can be stressful and overwhelming, especially for people who like to be prepared. How do you find a theme, pull books, flannels, music, all in a matter of minutes?   Here are a few tips that I have learned over the years that can help you prepare a storytime on the fly. Have office copies of your favorite picture books.  Have playlists of your best storytime action music. Keep…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Art Programs in the Library: Traditional and High Tech

Arts programs in our schools are perennially  on the chopping block. Too many school districts in the US have had to eliminate or reduce art education.  Some of the cuts are budget related, others are tied to curriculum standards. In a recently published paper, The Brown Center Chalkboard concluded that  “… that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes.” My library has picked up the arts mantle and offers a broad range of art programs for people of all ages.  We offer a variety of programming including in house programming, self directed art in the makerspace, and outsider instruction.   In House Crafts    The Youth Services Department offers drop in preschool crafts every few weeks where families can bring their preschoolers to make a variety of crafts at their own pace.  We also host recurring programs including school age…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Community Helper Storytime Series

Celebrating National Library Week 2019   This year’s National Library Week theme was Libraries = Strong Communities. As part of our celebrations my library hosted a week of Community Helper Storytimes. My coworker and I planned the five day event. We invited mystery guests to visit the library and read to the children each day of the week, Monday to Friday. Each day featured a different community helper. Our visitors were really varied from traveling animal ambassadors from the local petting zoo (and their zookeeper), a police officer, a dental hygienist, to firefighters and a ballerina. We contacted and scheduled them approximately two months in advance. Since we requested that they each read a book to the children, we pulled a selection of appropriate titles for them to choose between, and had those ready for their review two weeks before the storytime.   The traveling animal ambassadors program was structured…