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…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Running Background Checks on Outside Performers

Recently there has been discussion on the Facebook group Library Think Tank  (#ALATT) about running background checks on outside performers. It has been a rather animated debate, and caused me and my coworkers to do some serious pondering.   The subject under debate:  Should all performers have background checks run before they appear at a library? There were two incidents that sparked the discussion. One was a Drag Queen Storytime that was held at the Houston Public Library.  After the performance, it was discovered by a pro-family activist group called MassResistance that one of the performers was a registered sex offender.  The group brought the criminal status of the performer to the attention of the media. HPL didn’t run a background check on the performer, although Library policy does require checks be run on all performers. (It should be noted that Since March 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Play Areas in Libraries

Indoor Playground? Early Learning Area? Playland? Seventh Circle of the Underworld?     Play areas for the youngest library patrons are most common in public libraries, although some school libraries have them as well. They range from the simple: an area rug with a train table or puppet theater and some puzzles; to the elaborate:  dedicated themed spaces, with corporate sponsors, that are changed out on a quarterly basis. With our recently completed remodel and expansion my library created a new, dedicated, larger space for creative play. It has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the library. There are busy times where we have upwards of 40 people (children and caregivers) in the space at once. Mornings are usually the most hectic. It can be quite lively at times. (Okay, maybe raucous is a more accurate descriptor.) Located in the youth services department, it offers an engaging,…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Working Through a Remodel : Library Life in a Construction Zone

  My library is in the midst of an expansion and remodel project. Phase one, the building addition, was completed last week. A two story, 8000 square foot extension is now open. For the Youth Services department, this means a new office, Creation Center, study rooms, Homework Center / Parent Teacher collection,  and expanded stacks.   It is super exciting having new spaces (including a new departmental office), but there have been a few hiccups along the way. There’s been a delay with our office furniture, so several of us don’t have desks at the moment. And most of our supplies are still in the mover’s totes. We were closed for two days last week in order to move shelving, including the entire picture book collection and play area. Some materials went to offsite storage, some are in temporary moving carts, and others are in totes waiting to be reshelved….