Blogger Heather Acerro

Keeping Connected with Custom Collections

At a time when Rochester Public Library (MN) has limited ability to provide direct services to children, teens, and families, our custom collection service has helped us stay connected. Since mid-March, RPL staff have been heavily engaged in city-wide pandemic response work, including setting up and staffing a day center for people experiencing homelessness and running a COVID-19 call center. We also provide library services through our digital library, Curbside pickup, Bookmobile services, Deposit & Homebound services, phone reference, and Internet access by appointment. This work has required our library to collaborate as a large team, with staff from multiple divisions sharing ideas and responsibilities on the various projects. As a result, our Youth Services team hasn’t had many opportunities to work together. During this time, two YS programs have allowed us to provide direct service to our kids, teens, and families. In June, we launched our Pen Pal program which has been…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Summer Playlist: At Home Edition

In 2017, Rochester Public Library (MN) launched the Summer Playlist program to replace our traditional Summer Reading Program (SRP). You can read all about that process here. Summer Playlist is an all-ages reading and adventure program that is inclusive of all abilities and interests. When we started our SRP overhaul, we intended that the program would remain relatively unchanged for at least five years. For 2018 & 2019, we ended up making several large changes that were much-needed simplifications and improvements. In early 2020, we finally had the most absolutely perfect Summer Playlist program yet; everything was ready to go, our reward bags were ordered, our log was ready for the printer, and it was going to be the BEST! And you know how this story ends. Since mid-March, RPL staff have been heavily engaged in city-wide pandemic response work, including setting up and staffing a day center for people…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Program in a Post: Pen Pals

With this post, some simple office supplies, and a few stamps you can connect with kids at home! I don’t need to tell you that this pandemic season has been a challenge, at Rochester Public Library (MN) we had to stop all youth programming this spring during our state’s stay at home order. Realizing that we weren’t the only ones who were lonely and missing the library experience, we reached out through the library’s marketing channels to invite kids to write to us. Our Pen Pal program has been a simple joy. It is super fun to receive mail for the grown-ups at the library, so imagine how excited the kids are to get a letter! The program is quite simple to set up. We created a webpage inviting kids to write to us with simple instructions: Write a letter and address it to “Library Pen Pal” Include your return…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Grab Bag Bundles

We’ve had book bundles of picture books as a children’s book display and we’ve had blind date with a book as a teen book display. Now we’ve combined the two concepts into: Grab Bag Bundles. Grab Bag Bundles are made of 3-5 picture books or non-fiction books on a theme, wrapped in brown paper, and labeled with a mysterious theme. Themes we’ve used include: Are you all ready for this? (Spring books!) Why DID she cross the road? (chicken books) That’s CLASSIC! (folk and fairy tales) Boo! (monsters) Three (books with 3 in the title)     To make the display work we: Select 3-5 books on a theme Check them out on a staff-use card Wrap them in brown paper Paste on a label with the theme & the # of books written on it Add to the display Customers are asked to take the bundles to our Public…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Warm Up Rochester, Minnesota

Fact: Minnesota is cold in the winter (and the fall and the spring). Several years ago one of our Youth Services Librarians shared a story with us about a first grade class that had walked over from the nearby Title 1 elementary school. During the class visit, the librarian told the class a story that included props of a clothes line with several pairs of mittens pinned to it. While the rest of the class was browsing for books after the storytime, a child pulled her aside and asked quietly if he could take a pair of those prop mittens home to his sister because she didn’t have any. The librarian made sure that he left with mittens for his whole family. Inspired by this and similar stories from our community, we launched a program called Warm Up Rochester in November 2016. The program encourages the community to make or…

Administrative and Management Skills

Planning Your Year

It is almost time for a new calendar, which is one of my favorite times of the year! I am a big planner and I love taking time to reflect and think about where I want to be at this time next year. Several years ago I started a practice of using worksheets created by Ink & Volt (they are free!) to prepare for the new year. They start with a reflection on the past year, thinking about what went well, what could have gone better, and the lessons learned. The second step is reflecting on relationships and the third is setting a yearly theme. Setting a theme is the most difficult and yet most rewarding part of this process. The theme should be short and should speak to all areas of your life. My 2019 theme was “nurture” and I used it to guide my goals, which is the…

Administrative and Management Skills

Update Your Disaster Plan! Part 2

  Overnight, on September 22nd, 3,500 gallons of water poured from the mechanical room on the third floor of the Rochester Public Library (MN). Staff opening the building on Sunday found several inches of standing water in the central core of all three floors of the building. In October I shared 13 lessons from the disaster, here are 11 more: It is going to take longer than you think to get back to normal. Two months after the water leak we have the 2nd floor partially open, and no access to our Auditorium space. After initial estimates for repairs were made, we exceeded the state expenditure threshold, and we needed a formal bid process. This process will add months to our recovery. Be creative! Is there a way to get part of the building back up and running while you wait for full recovery? We were fortunately able to expedite…

Blogger Heather Acerro

Update Your Disaster Plan!

Do you know what to do if your auditorium space turns into a lake? It is much better to plan now than to figure out what to do with water puddling at your feet! Overnight, on September 22nd, 3,500 gallons of water poured from the mechanical room on the third floor of the Rochester Public Library (MN). Staff opening the building on Sunday found several inches of standing water in the central core of all three floors of the building. The library’s physical materials collection was largely unaffected, but staff areas and meeting rooms were severely damaged. Rochester Public Library is a two story main library with Youth Services and fiction, movies, and music for adults on the first floor and Reference Services, non-fiction materials, and adult public internet stations on the second floor. Without branch libraries in the community, Rochester and Olmsted County residents rely on the main building…