Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

National Princess Week at the Library

There’s a holiday happening right now that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. I’m speaking, of course, of National Princess Week, which runs the last full week in April every year. Conceived as a joint venture by Disney and Target back in 2013, it absolutely came into existence as a way to push even more princess-branded merchandise on the eager public. Yet librarians would be wise not to dismiss National Princess Week out of hand as crass commercialism. There’s a lot of gold to be mined from this particular tiara. For one thing, the programming opportunities are endless, and don’t need to be limited to the types of programs that might typically be associated with princesses – though those have their place, too.  Global interest in princesses has never been higher, particularly now that we have our very own feminist, biracial, American Princess in the British Royal Family. Since today’s…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Circulating Comic Books at Your Library

In October 2013, with the popularity of comic book-based movies growing and graphic novels experiencing a growing wave of popularity among young readers, we decided to start circulating comic books in our children’s library. We reasoned that in terms of material type, a comic book is merely a slightly flimsier magazine, and we’d circulated those for decades. And since individual comic books are extremely reasonably priced, it was a small investment for the administration to approve. We started with yearly subscriptions to what was at the time a pitifully small amount of “kids” comic runs that you could get directly through Marvel & D.C. comics- one year of Avengers Assemble for $26.95, plus a Looney Toons subscription and a Young Justice League series. The comics proved immediately popular, but back in 2013 there was a hitch – there didn’t seem to be a way for us to get any other…

Administrative and Management Skills

Children’s Librarians are Experts in Multitasking

Storytime. Summer Reading. STEAM Initiatives. These are just some of the types of programs a Children’s Library might do in any library in America on any given day. All these programs, for wildly different ages and groups of people, must be planned, scheduled, and prepared for. Programming alone is a juggling act, requiring a children’s librarian to impart early literacy tips to parents in the morning and help 10-year-olds solder in the afternoon. But the work of children’s librarians is not just visible programming work at the library. Add in outreach – to local schools, to farmer’s markets, to fairs and festivals and community events. Don’t forget advocacy – attending town meetings, preparing your elevator pitch, and petitioning your elected officials for additional money and support. And marketing – someone has to make the calendars, write the press releases, and let the public know what you’re doing. Now we’ve covered…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Book to Film: The House with a Clock in its Walls

Just in time for Halloween, a classic of the kidlit horror genre was adapted into a film. John Bellairs first published The House with a Clock in its Walls in 1973, a time of unrest and upheaval in the United States and around the world. It feels surprisingly fresh when read in 2018. 21st-Century readers will be forgiven for finding the opening chapter of The House with a Clock in its Walls a bit familiar. Recently orphaned, loner Lewis is on his way to live with an uncle he’s never met. And yet, what Lewis finds when he arrives at his Uncle’s wondrous and sinister home is the stuff of both dreams and terrible, terrible nightmares. Uncle Jonathan is a wizard, and somewhere in his house there is a clock placed by the malevolent former owners of the home. It’s ticking down towards something, but no one knows what. In…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Hiring for Culture at #PLA2018

On the last morning of #PLA2018, I attended two excellent panels, both loosely related to staff development. While the idea of creating a leadership training program within my organization was intriguing, the program that has stuck with me in the days since #PLA2018 was the last one I attended – Hire for Fit: Best Practices for Hiring to Your Culture. Presented by panelists from Anythink Libraries, Jefferson County Public Libraries, and the City of Boulder Library & Arts, this program exemplified the power of PLA for me. It was hands-on, practical, fun, and best of all, incredibly useful. I’ve been proselytizing prioritizing culture when hiring to everyone who has had the pleasure of asking me how the conference was since I walked out of the room at the conclusion of the panel. The librarian representing Anythink, Susan Dobbs, began the presentation by telling the attendees that the values of her library…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Eliminating Fines and Fees on Children’s Materials at #pla2018

Why do libraries charge fines? Fines are a source of revenue, a chance to teach responsibility to our youngest patrons, and a way to encourage people to bring materials back on time. Or are they? What if it turned out that none of those assumptions were true? A new white paper (Https:// looks at the available data and concludes that fines do not do any of those things, although librarians and patrons have deeply held beliefs that they do. At Eliminating Fines and Fees on Children’s Materials to Create a Win-Win for Your Community, my mind was blown by a study which showed that nominal library fees do not have ANY impact on overdue rates. Only steep fines result in more prompt return of material. Unless your library is willing to charge $5 a day on overdue picture books, the fines are not resulting in the timely return of your…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Talking is Teaching at #PLA2018

Librarians know that talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing with their children from birth can have dramatic impacts on the child’s development. Today at #PLA2018, San Francisco Public Library presented “Talking is Teaching: Opportunities for Increasing Early Brain and Language Development” with their early literacy partner, Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation.

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Great Baby Reads

As I anticipate the birth of my second child, my thoughts once again turn to books for babies. As librarians are well aware, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents read to their children beginning in early infancy. A recently published study, Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes was presented in 2017 at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, and reaffirmed the benefits of this practice. The abstract stated “reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills.” ALSC’s fantastic campaign Babies Need Words Every Day helps to bring this message to libraries around the country. At my library, we have all the posters hanging in our public restrooms, and routinely use the talking points in our Baby Laptime programs. Yet despite all the great messaging around reading to…