My system is rethinking, relaunching, and rediscovering what our community and neighborhoods are like right now, and how the library can fit into our local communities. It feels like the perfect time to start this work, as our neighborhoods have been pretty closed off the last couple of years to keep us safe. I warned my staff when our fiscal year started in October, that pretty much all they would hear from me this year is the word: Resetting. And that word is perfect as a launch to reset yourself in the community, and reconnect.
Long before COVID-19 upended what we know about informal youth learning in libraries, ALSC commissioned a Task Force to consider the shift in core activities that would mark learning in the 21st Century. From this planning task force, an Implementation Task Force was formed in 2019. The Summer and Out-of-School Time Task Force was charged with creating a national tool predicated upon evidence-based approaches for developing quality and impactful programs and services for children. Learning Beyond: 21st Century Summer and Out-of-School Time Toolkit is the culmination of the ensuing work. The Toolkit reveal happened at the 2021 Annual Conference of the National Summer Learning Association in Washington, DC, where ALSC President Lucia Gonzalez introduced the work as “an integral part of the roadmap we need to help our children move forward through public library service.”
This post is in honor of my colleague, Julia Pflager, who created an amazing passive/self-directed program that should be shared with all. Julie and I used to work together, and one of our favorite things to do was to plan bimonthly big programs where we would decorate the children’s room with larger than life items and self-directed activities and programs that featured different programming themes. It was so much fun!
Earlier this year, my library opened a food pantry as one of the services we offer. It’s been a huge success, a lot of work but a huge payoff for our patrons. Last month, I hosted a food pantry storytime to help promote our pantry. I don’t get to do storytime too often anymore and it was a lot of fun. Here’s what we did!
We launched a big addition to our library collection last month: eleven podiums that make up our new Trail Tales! Trail Tales is based on StoryWalk®. This project was long in the planning. My colleague had tried to find funding to create a literacy/walking experience at the outset of the pandemic, but was unable to secure a source for us. However, we didn’t give up our dream of a StoryWalk® of some sort! We kept our eyes open for potential partners.
To extend our reach and eliminate any barriers to service, we have partnered with our county school system to provide student accounts. Students can use their school account number as a library card, granting them access to print and online library materials. After a year and a half of virtual school, students are back to in-person learning. Do they have all the materials they need to succeed?
Now more than possibly ever before, folks are exploring the digital resources our libraries have to offer. Public librarians, now’s the time to think about partnering with your schools to offer digital library cards to students. As we enter Library Card Sign Up Month, it’s the perfect time to start this conversation. Many libraries offer this service and there are lots of ways to do it. Our program is a work is progress (more on that below) and I’m happy to share how we got it started and what we’ve learned.
I’ve spent the last few months trying to educate myself on Childhood Trauma, ACES, and how to become a trauma informed library. The task is daunting! The learning curve is steep, the information is abundant and there are so many children in need of care. I was beginning to despair. Then an old friend of mine from high school (shout out to the Shaler Area Titans!), Dr. Lisa Schelbe posted her new book, The Handbook on Child Welfare Practice, on Facebook. Dr. Schelbe is an associate professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University. Her areas of expertise are child welfare and child maltreatment prevention, among others. I knew I had a resource that could help me focus; she literally wrote the book on the subject! I reached out to Dr. Schelbe, and we had an amazing conversation about what practical steps we can take as children’s…