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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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Wakanheza Project Principles, Part 5

Environment. According to The Wakanheza Project Agency, Business and Community Organizing Guide, one of the principles of The Wakanheza Project is Environment:

"Environments can be impacted by both physical space and social interactions. People tend to respond very well to welcoming environments. Conversely, stressful, unwelcoming environments can lead to tense and sometimes hostile behaviors. Parents, children, young people and adults can immediately sense whether an environment is welcoming. Whtether we know it or not, the environments we create individually and collectively have a great impact on people's behavior in public places as well as within the agencies and businesses where we work."

I really like this principle, and there are a lot of directions to go with it. Here are a few:

Most of us are aware of the need to create welcoming environments, and there are a lot of wonderful, welcoming libraries out there, but sometimes there are things in our physical space that are creating problems and we don't even recognize that a change in the environment might help alleviate the issues.

  • Unattended children in the children's room while parents are in another part of the library using the Internet? Well, definitely you need to firm up your policy on this, but what if there were computers available for parents to use in the children's room? Can you rearrange things to make this possible? Put money in the budget for a laptop?

  • In some libraries, the circulation desk is the scene of meltdowns and angry interactions. What can you do to ease the tension? For one thing, if you have something for kids to do while they are waiting for their books to get checked out (or for their parents to finish a discussion about their fines), this makes one less stress for everyone. In one library, they have an old-fashioned viewmaster they hand to kids who are waiting for their parents.

  • For people who are very sensitive to stimuli, particularly people on the autism spectrum, things like flickering flourescent lights are not just irritating, but physically painful. What can we do to cut down on that? There are light-covers that can go over the lighting panels that cut down on the problem significantly. Carving out areas with as much natural or full-spectrum light as possible will also help--and it turns out everyone finds that more welcoming! Look for grant project information coming soon about this!

  • Teen areas. Teens will notice if you have carved out a space for them, and will appreciate it.

And one last thing about welcoming environments. Even in the most crowded, physically challenging libraries, I have felt a truly welcoming environment as soon as I walked in the door--it was in the way librarians were greeting everyone as they came in, the smiles per capita. We are all busy and stressed, but this is absolutely the most important thing in creating a welcoming environment, and we all can do it, no matter what our budget resources. Humans are the most welcoming part of an environment! Don't forget the ability of even ONE person to help make the library feel great, less stressful, and ultimately cut down on issues.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Performance Fun in Hudson

Mary from Hudson called to tell me about a few new performers they have had this summer. I haven't heard of these folks before, and from what Mary says, I'll probably be hearing about them at other libraries in the area soon.

Ragamala is a dance company in the Twin Cities practicing Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form. They have had much acclaim and travel internationally. They add contemporary ideas and themes into the classical dance, keeping it current. The company sent two dancers to Hudson, where they used dance to tell a few familiar stories, and invited audience participation. The audience was fascinated, and Mary was terrifically impressed with their artistry and their ability to engage the audience.

Another new performer on the Wisconsin scene: The Marvelous Magical Music Museum and Instrument Petting Zoo. Geoffrey Guy Weeks is a musician, instrument collector, and teacher who lives in Northfield. He brought an entire van chock full of instruments from around the world to Hudson! Here's a tip from Mary--make sure you have some strong young backs on hand to volunteer to help unload the van. The kids were enthralled, though Mary wished he had played a little more and talked a little less...

What performers have you had this summer? What projects have gone over especially well? Anything you can take a few minutes to share? Anything not going as you planned? Tell all! Send in your ideas or submissions to langby@ifls.lib.wi.us!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Joseph Bruchac Coming to Eau Claire!

Joseph Bruchac, a photo by Michael Greenlar

Joseph Bruchac, a prominent and prolific author and storyteller for children and youth, will be in Eau Claire in October as part of the Second Annual Chippewa Valley Reads project. Bruchac will visit schools on October 21 and then will perform with storytelling, music and information about his books on Saturday, October 22 at 11:00 at the public library in Eau Claire.

This summer's SLP theme of One World, Many Stories is a great chance to promote his work with children and teens. He has written down many traditional stories from his Abeneki heritage and other Native stories. In addition, he's written novels and poems, including Code Talkers, about the Navajo men who used their language to create an uncrackable code during World War II. His most recent novel, Dragon Castle, draws on his Slovak background for a story about dragons, heroes, kings and queens.

Watch for more information, bookmarks, and other ways to promote the books of Joseph Bruchac to children and families in the area. In the meantime, take a peek at the resources gathered by TeachingBooks.net about Joseph Bruchac. You'll find book readings, book discussion guides, information about Joseph Bruchac, and more.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Super-Cool CD Project

Holly Lunde from Plum City shared some photos and know-how for a project that went over very well in Plum City, and used up some of the backlog of CDs that have been withdrawn for one reason or another.

Decorated side of CDs

"This was a very simple craft to have the kids do. All we did was save every CD (that we were either replacing or deleting) for a year. Then we found jpg's of all the continents in a round (or as close to round as we could get) shape and color copied these. Our very able assistant Alex cut out the shapes. We asked the kids to pick a continent, taped the shape on the non playing side and turned the CD's over and let the kids have at it with paints, fabric markers, and sharpies. We hung the end results from a clothesline close to our front door, the kids like finding theirs and searching for what a friends craft may look like."

Continents side of CDs