Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

STEM Activities, Kits, and Tip Sheets

drop of water

The Wisconsin Water Library at UW Madison  has STEM and Literacy Together Kits to use for story time. The kits include traditional storytime elements (reading, songs, art activity), along with a water-related STEM aspect.

Available for request:

Once Upon a Pond (all about ponds in Wisconsin) - Call no. 071246

Jump Around with Frogs (Wisconsin Native Frogs and Toad) - Call no. 281686)

Does it Sink or Float? (Buoyancy) - Call no. 232434

They are available to request here, though some sleuthing indicates they are not on the regular catalog.

If you are looking for some more great STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) resources for younger kids, you might want to check out the US Department of Education's Tip Sheets:  Talk, Read and Sing about STEM.  Or check out the IFLS Early Childhood Exploration Kits and School-age STEM kits (which you can reserve by sending an email to Leah at langby @ ifls.lib.wi.us)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Henna Hands in Eau Claire

Thanks to Samantha Carpenter for this blog post!

I did a passive program called Henna Hands in conjunction with a book display based on our bibliography One World, Many Cultures. It didn't attract a ton of participants over the 3 weeks it was out (27), but I thought some of the results were pretty beautiful.

I used a hand template off the internet and provided some sample designs. Don't you just love the way a bunch of hands look displayed together? It always warms my heart. Hope it warmed the hearts of a few teens, too--or a few of you!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Five Action Strategies to Expand Opportunities for Family Learning

Twins learning about the woods, walking, and fresh air with their grown-ups
The Urban Libraries Council and the National Council for Families Learning recently published a Leadership Brief on Libraries and Family Learning.  It's short, so you might want to take a peek.  If you just want to get a few tips, here are the five strategies they recommend for libraries:

1.  Connect with multiple key community partners that can meet family learning needs.  I seem many libraries in the country, state, and our own region doing terrific work in this area.  Libraries partnering with Public Health, Birth to Three, schools, daycares, Head Start, County Extension, and more!

2.  Increase community outreach to connect with families where they are.  Don't forget laundromats, daycare centers, places of worship...

3.  Enhance and align existing library and community literacy programs to serve families.  Be aware of what else is happening, bring groups together!

4.  Keep programming flexible to meet the needs of both parents and children.  Include multiple options. Consider offering meals, allowing drop-ins, and providing ways to extend the learning at home.

5.  Tell the story of the importance of family learning and early literacy.  We are well-positioned to do this--don't be afraid to be assertive about the importance!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Inspiring Use of Yoyo Enthusiasm

Another fabulous blog post from Alisha at the LE Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire.  Send in your terrific ideas, too!

Don’t you love when one of your library programs sparks a new interest in someone?  Within the last year I had received two separate requests from teen boys to bring Dazzling Dave, National Yo-Yo Master and world record holder, back to the library for another yo-yo program.  Both boys had fallen in love with the hobby after learning to yo-yo at Dazzling Dave’s yo-yo workshop held in 2014.  They checked out library materials and watched online videos to learn new tricks and practiced, practiced, practiced.  One of the boys took 5th place in a Midwest yo-yo competition and has created a website: www.spintricks.com.  The other young man has aspirations of inventing a new yo-yo.  And both boys do some pretty amazing tricks.

I was delighted to see the excitement in these two boys and invited them during spring break week to showcase their talent at the library in whatever way they were comfortable.  One of the young men brought his yo-yos and gave lessons to library customers and performed some of his impressive tricks.  
Demonstrating tricks 

The other young man put on two one-hour performances in the center of the library that drew good size crowds of people whose interest was piqued.  Both of these “pop-up performances” brought a very fun and lively atmosphere to the library.   
Pop-up performance--holding attention for an hour!

Library staff was thrilled to be able to highlight the talent of our youth, and it meant a lot to the boys to be recognized by their library…the place that their love for yo-yos began.  My desire is to continue to showcase the wide varieties of our customers’ talents.  And here is to all of the wonderful librarians in our area and beyond that help to spark and foster new interests in our patrons. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dr. Seuss Celebration Goes Wild!

One of many cup towers created to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday

Last month at a youth services swap, Alyssa from Park Falls was telling us about the 200+ people who attended their Dr. Seuss celebration in March.  200+ people is nearly 10 percent of the entire population of Park Falls!
Luckily, an attendee who is good at this sort of thing stepped in to help the overwhelmed face painter!
This gives you an idea of the packed but pleasant proceedings!

 A variety of activity stations, face painting, snacks, and books kept people happy and engaged.

School visits and snazzy publicity helped promote

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Scavenger Hunts for the WIN!

Big thanks to Alisha from LEPMPL for sharing this terrific blog post!

Scavenger hunts.  They’re awesome.  I love participating in a good scavenger hunt and I enjoy organizing hunts for others to complete.  And they make a great stealth program.  It is a fabulous way to teach something or get people to explore areas they maybe wouldn’t otherwise, but it feels more like a game.  It is a great activity that can require little set up and be available for longer periods of time without restocking materials.

We almost always have a scavenger hunt available in Youth Services such as “find all of the letters of the alphabet hidden around the room,” for example.  I’ve also written clues for a variety of scavenger hunts for different age levels.  This year I wrote clues for a new hunt that was available throughout the week of spring break.  My goal was to get kids (and some parents) familiar with the library outside of YS.  Many of our young customers are familiar with most of the Youth Services staff, so I also wanted to include staff from the Reference and Circulation departments to show kids that these adults are friendly and approachable too (and to prove to some of the staff how fun it can be to interact with kids ;). 

The first three clues were found in YS.  The third clue made them venture beyond the Youth Services entrance and led them to the Reference Desk:  “The Reference Desk is a great place to ask a question.  Ask them how many books are in the library’s collection.”  Reference staff would respond with the answer and provide them with their next clue.  Seven more clues would lead them to other areas of the library.  Some of the clues included a little known fact about the library or required the solving of a simple puzzle.
Here's the clue

Here's the answer!

The final clue, “The people that check out your books are happy folk.  You can finish this hunt if you ask them for a joke!” brought the kids to the Circulation Desk where they received a joke from staff and a small treat.  The Hunt was available all hours that the library was open.  Over 100 people participated in the scavenger hunt in the first two days.

Library customers and staff responded with a lot of positive feedback.  Several staff thanked me for the opportunity to positively interact with the kids.  Adult patrons were happy to see kids excitedly searching the library for clues and commented that it was nice to see them outside of Youth Services and exploring and getting to know the rest of their library. 

If you haven’t had a scavenger hunt at your library yet…DO IT!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

John Green Shout-Out to Librarians and Teachers

I used to watch the vlogbrothers videos more regularly.  I got my fill of them a few years ago, but I got reintroduced when the Office of Intellectual Freedom blog highlighted a video that John Green made, talking about how his Printz Award winning book Looking for Alaska topped the list of Most Challenged books in the US in 2015.  My favorite part of the video is where he emphasizes that LIBRARIANS and TEACHERS are trained and skilled professionals who choose materials carefully and with a deep understanding of literature and the youth they serve.  It's always nice to get a shout-out like that from a revered author.