Blogger Eva Mitnick

Babies, books – the birth of a plan

We have a new City Librarian and, joy of joys, he cares deeply about school readiness and early literacy.  In fact, he stated in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that he wants to offer a Books for Babies program here. Well, heck – you bet we can do that!  It’s a service offered by many libraries in all kinds of ways; a simple Google search brought up all kinds of nifty examples and models.  And it goes along perfectly with the Every Child Ready to Read 2 parent workshops and early literacy-rich storytimes we already provide. On to creating a plan.  Hmm, suddenly I’ve got dozens of questions.  Here are some of them: Do we use a ready-made kit or create our own?  Should there be just books and brochures – or should we add educational toys and other items as well? How do we get the books and whatnot…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

ALSC Institute = burnout-buster

Thank goodness for the ALSC Institute!  As a long and busy summer speeds right into an even busier fall, I was starting to feel just the tiniest bit stressed.  Conferences like this one provide an intense oasis, rich with ideas and possibilities, where I can get away from my day-to-day job (deadlines! emails! reports!) and focus on The Work. Every single one of the sessions I attended at the Institute offered not only valuable nuggets of inspiration and information, but also fertile ground for bursts of creativity. How would the admirable programs and services I was hearing about would translate to my own system? My brain has been fizzing with exciting possibilities. The Columbus Public Metropolitan Library’s Ready to Read Corps; Hedberg Public Library’s well-rounded early literacy staff development plan; Arapahoe Library District’s emphasis on storytime competencies; Cuyahoga County Public Library’s focus on offering a continuum of service from birth through…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Learning from SRP 2012

Our Summer Reading Program ended August 11 after 9 wild weeks.  Almost all the children’s librarians at our 72 branches and Central Library reported record numbers of kids registering for the club and attending events.  Was it the heat?  The lack of summer school?  The awesomeness of our SRP? Now is the time to evaluate the summer, reflect on our successes and lessons learned, and start planning for next year. Here’s how we’re evaluating our SRP: Counting registration numbers – While they don’t tell the whole story by a long shot, they can be quite revealing.  Ours zoomed up this year, hurray!  And many were first-timers, as we discovered from our surveys (see below). Counting minutes read and books read – We just started doing this last year.  While the success of a program doesn’t necessarily hang on how many minutes were read, our administration, board of commissioners, city council,…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Not a Box

What has been the surprise hit this summer at the Children’s Literature Department of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library? A box! Children’s librarians painted 3 sides of a very large box with a dinosaur, an astronaut, and a rocket ship, all with holes cut in them so kids can get in the box, poke their faces through, and Dream Big. Simple?  Yes!  Incredibly fun?  Heck yes!  Check out this gallery of dinosaurs and space explorers. Even this mild-mannered librarian indulged her secret desire to be Big and Fierce.  Grr!

ALA Annual 2012

Maintaining that magical #ala12 glow

The lovely thing about ALA being in Anaheim this year is that so many of our LA Public Library children’s and YA librarians got to attend, many for the very first time.  They attended sessions from morning until dinnertime, walked the exhibits until their feet ached, and came back with what one YA librarian called That ALA Glow. So now these librarians are filled with enthusiasm and fabulous ideas.  But as I know well, this doesn’t always translate into big change at the library.  Sure, you might incorporate some ideas you gleaned at ALA into the storytimes and displays at your own branch – but how do you spread these great tidbits to your fellow librarians? And more challenging – how do you convince the Powers That Be to implement (or even consider implementing) a terrific program or service that you think would work superbly at your library system? This has…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Volunteers – in their own words

Library volunteers come in all ages, and they do everything from shelving DVDs to holding book sales.  It takes time to train and manage them, but the pay-off is vast. We’ve had an amazing volunteer program at our library for over 20 years.  The idea is simple – we train adult volunteers to share books and stories with kids at the library.  First called “Grandparents and Books” because our volunteers were older adults, it later became just GAB when we began welcoming younger adults as well.  This July 1st, we’re changing the name again – to Storytelling and Reading, or STAR – so that the theme of the program will be more immediately apparent. Whatever the name, it has been a spectacularly successful program, and this is due almost entirely to the enthusiasm and passion of our volunteers, many of whom have been with us for 5, 10 and even…

Blogger Eva Mitnick

Dream projects

My library system is considering offering Innovation Mini-Grants to librarians (children, YA, and adult) who have a fabulous idea for a program or service but need some funds to cover equipment, materials, and supplies.  This would be similar to the California State Library’s “Pitch an Idea” – but the amount of money awarded would smaller, up to $1500 or so. The idea behind these mini-grants is that truly relevant and creative ideas tend to come from the front lines, not the administrative offices, of library systems.  If we provide money and encouragement (and clear away the red tape), we’ll be creating fertile ground for exciting experiments that would never happen if we relied on top-down innovation. I’m ineligible for these internal mini-grants, since I don’t work with the public directly (yep, I’m one of those behind-the-scenes middle managers).  But oh boy, that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about what projects…

ALA Midwinter 2012

Bouncing in our seats

The ALA Youth Media Awards #alayma12 were held in a real theater this year, complete with cushy seats.  This meant that as each award was announced, not only did the huge space resound with cheers and shrieks and applause, but also librarians were literally bouncing in their seats with excitement.   The theater was a pulsating mass of passionate book lovers.  The Academy Awards would be SO much more interesting if that audience were this passionate and raucous! The award announcements aren’t just the end of a long year of hard work by the award committees.  They herald the beginning of an exciting time when the award books are handed over to all librarians, teachers, and booksellers.  Now we have a fresh batch of exciting books to use in our never-ending quest to encourage reading and great books for kids. So now that we’ve recovered from the dizzying drama of…