Passive Picture Book Programs

As a first year librarian, I was constantly looking for new passive programming ideas.  We had a passive “mystery box” program, that the children could participate in once a week. I was getting burnt out on trying to find 5 new items every Monday to fill the box, and the kids were getting frustrated that they had to wait a week to play again.  At other libraries, the mystery box works well when most children come just once a week, but our children come to the library every day after school and in the summer.  I felt like this type of passive programming was not as enriching as it could be. Early this January, a new book came by my desk called, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith.   I flipped through this and immediately wanted to turn this into a daily passive…

Passive DIY Programming for Tweens

I’m always on the lookout for hands-on passive programming that will keep my tween audience engaged during the summer. Simple paper crafts, scavenger hunts, and guessing jars are great for the younger folk, but this age group is savvier and has a penchant for a more “sophisticated” activities. To satisfy their need to design and create, our library has developed DIY projects that are low cost and easy to put together. Our program is set up to be self-serving, meaning we leave out the supplies and directions for the project and let the tweens help themselves. The supplies themselves are close to the staff desk, so if a tween does need a little help getting started, they can easily find someone to assist them. Each project is available for roughly a month and we try to stick to a budget of $50 for supplies. Here are two of my favorite DIY projects we are offering this summer:…

No-Tech No-Touch: Real Life Programming in a Pandemic

Our library is talking about how to serve children in more tech-free ways. Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt, but how do we give our community some of the fun passive activities we are used to while keeping our staff and families safe? I know we are all missing our kiddos and their grown-ups and they are missing us. We want to feel connected and lately the virtual connection doesn’t feel like enough. So I looked around to see what other libraries are doing and here are a few of the things I found. Scavenger Hunts: Check lists like hunts from Glenside Public Library District are easy to replicate and hunt lists could be tucked into books if locations are doing curbside check outs. Neighborhood hunts have also been very popular and are simple to participate in, the Northbrook Public Library’s Bear Hunt  is cute and book based. Quite a few libraries have…

Balancing Low Staff and High Program Needs

Ever since I transitioned from children’s librarian to a branch manager– I have been way more obsessed with the staffing needs that is required to run a children’s department, well. Depending on your branch, location, system, or building– children’s departments probably average anywhere from 3-15 programs a week. And while it might look to some managers or admin or even patrons, that those programs just appear magically– I know all the hard work that it takes to prepare, craft, present, and manage those programs– and all the staff needed to make those dreams possible.

Incorporating Writing into Library Programming

While attending ALA annual in Washington DC this past June, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation titled Writing Boxes: How libraries can create diverse, welcoming, intergenerational programming to inspire writing as an integral part of supporting literacy and family engagement. I left the program inspired and ready to infuse more writing exercises into my passive programming in my children’s room. Most exciting of all was when presenter, Lisa Von Drasek, shared that the curriculum she developed for use in libraries serving youth was going to be shared for free online through permissions from The University of Minnesota. You can download the free e-book or purchase a physical copy here.

Children’s Librarians are Expert in Creating Timely Current Event Programs

This fall, voting discussions were happening spontaneously wherever adults gathered: the dinner table, the grocery line, the car radio and well beyond. Kids in our neighborhood heard snippets of local and national voting issues throughout their day.  Making sure to vote was often emphasized as a top priority. Just imagine the delight of children who walked into the Tecumseh Branch of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana when they saw a large freezer box voting booth with a “Vote for Best Pet 2018” campaign in full swing!  The premise was explained on a bulletin board directly behind the booth itself. “Dog or cat?  Your vote decides!  Customers of any age may vote from now through Tuesday, November 6th.  One vote per customer, please.  The winner will be announced with a Dog or Cat Storytime, Parade, and Victory Celebration.”  Our sole service point included voter registration cards children…