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 22, 2011

The Wakanheza Project: Strategies

Okay, so we talked about The Wakanheza Project Principles: Judgment, Culture, Powerlessness, Empathy and Respect, Environment, The Moment.

Now it is time to talk strategy. Here are some concrete ways to help create a welcoming environment and help avoid or diffuse unpleasant situations, taken from The Wakanheza Project Agency, Business and Community Organizing Guide. Some of these strategies will work better for you than others--they aren't a one-size-fits-all situation, that is why there are several.

1. Offer assurance through a smile or a nod. Don't underestimate the power of a friendly look. A group of teens coming into the library, a parent struggling with a child in the midst of a tantrum, and just about every other situation I can think of will be improved with adding a little friendly smile--a reassurance that you aren't judging them!

2. Show empathy and imagine yourself in the other person's shoes. This doesn't mean that you change the policy (assuming it is a good policy!). It means you try to understand why a parent might come in to the library to use the computer, bringing along their 2 year old, and not supervise them as they should. That doesn't mean that this person should be able to do this! But if you approach them with a bit of empathy as to their circumstances, maybe the interaction will go better. Are they a single parent with few options for childcare? Do they not understand how dangerous it is to their child to be unsupervised? Maybe they don't understand the function of children's librarians.

3. Distract or redirect their attention away from the stressful situation. This works great with kids, but also works with adults. A children's museum employee saw a parent getting increasingly frustrated as they tried to wrangle their child into a carseat in the parking lot. The situation was escalating, and the employee went over to the parent, who looked up defensively. The employee said he just wanted to make sure she knew how to get onto the Interstate from there. This distracted the mother and child enough for both to calm down, and by the time the employee left the lot, the child was buckled in safely.

4. Find something positive to say about the child, young person, or adult. I'm sure this can be hard sometimes! But it does diffuse tension, redirect attention, and create some warmth in the situation.

5. Offer encouragement about something positive that you see in the situation. Even if it is just congratulating the person for coming to the library, or letting them know you are happy they are there, is a good thing. Of course, don't say these things unless you mean them, people can tell if you are lying! But this can also diffuse tension, and reassure people and make them feel less defensive.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Doings in Durand

Durand has been having a fun summer, and has one more performer to rave about! Jim Mitchell, a magician from eastern WI, played to an audience of 150 in Durand. There were more adults in the crowd than kids, including a sizable group of senior citizens. Folks attending had many positive comments about the program, and if you check out the photos, you can see why!

They've also been enjoying some home-grown fun, with a presentation about car safety with Ann Bates, the Pepin County Human Services Educator and Buckle Bear:

And a storytime and make-and-take craft--decorating airplanes.

Send in your stories and photos! We love to see what everyone is up to!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hooray for Performers!

Nancy Reidner at the Rusk County Library in Ladysmith was very pleased with two of her performers this summer:

Mark Helpsmeet, international folk dance teacher from Eau Claire, "taught all of us some fabulous moves in folk dancing, everyone had a blast, he even got reluctant dads to join the fun." (Leah's note): I've danced with Mark before, and I can completely imagine his infectious enthusiasm working its magic with a group of reluctant dads!

And Nancy had more great things to say about the Halbrooks--these magicians from the Minnesota area have had consistent rave reviews from every library who has had them! (I tried to get them to come to the Performer Showcase on September 22, but they are not available).

Shelly Collins Fuerbringer from Eau Claire seconded earlier enthusiastic recommendations of The Okee Dokee Brothers, saying: "The Okee Dokee Brothers were here and they were fantastic! Thank you to Georgia for recommending them! They were really easy to work with - very flexible and laid back. They've only been at this a few years, but they really "get" the kids and what appeals to them. Had a lot of audience participation - love the grandma in the back jumping up and down with her grandkids! I had more positive comments from both kids and adults after this show than I've had on any performer all summer. I would have them back in a heartbeat."

Enthusiastic recommendations from others is a great way to find performers. Another is to check out our Performer Showcase, coming up in Eau Claire on September 22! Mark your calendars now and watch for more information.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Multi-Age Storytimes and More

In small libraries, it can be hard to find the time (and the bodies) to provide a storytime exclusively for babies or toddlers. With the advent of 4-year-old kindergarten in many communities, storytime is edging younger, but there are often some older preschoolers in the bunch, no matter what. It can be difficult to plan a storytime for such a large age range (0-5)!

At the ALA Conference in June, there was a program about multi-age storytimes, and the presenters recently posted their Power Points and other resources online. The scripts seem a little formal (maybe that is just the nature of scripts), but there are some excellent ideas about books that appeal to all ages, a few different strategies for dealing with the age spread, and other useful tips.

On another note, IFLS librarians, please remember to reply to the email about participation in a project about autism for which I'm writing an LSTA grant. If you have questions or don't remember hearing about this, please contact me!!