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Friday, October 5, 2012

Taking a Library Tour

Getting out of the library can be tricky, but the youth services librarians in Eau Claire found that it was extremely valuable in getting some new ideas for their library's early literacy space.  Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer sat down and answered a few questions about their adventures.

A map of the village from the Public Works Department with
 photos of various community spots like the fire station, etc.  They also have larger photos of these community spots "hidden" around the room for a seek and find activity.

1.          What made you decide to take a tour of libraries?  What were you hoping for?
In part we went because it is a goal in our strategic plan that we visit other libraries that have early literacy spaces. 

We are always looking for ideas on how to expand and improve upon our area, and seeing firsthand what other libraries do is exceptionally helpful.  We just introduced our Play and Learn area about a year ago, so we are definitely in the “how does this work best” mode.  Ridgedale, in particular, has a wealth of ideas because they have been doing this for so long.  I attended a pre-conference at PLA in 2008 where Dana Bjerke spoke about their space and what she showed us made so much sense to me.  Her ideas were easy to duplicate or put your own spin on and we have used many of them in our room with great success.

2.           Which libraries did you tour?
We toured the Ridgedale Public Library in Minnetonka (Hennepin County Library System).  The Roseville Public Library in Roseville (Ramsey County Library System) and the Sun Ray Branch in St. Paul (St. Paul Public Library). 

3.           What did you see that inspired you?
The Ridgedale Library is always inspiring.  Rather than me talking at length about what we saw, I’ll include their Flickr address so you can see firsthand.  They have a community theme going right now and they had so many fun yet educational ideas that would be easy for many libraries to implement in their own way.  www.flickr.com/photos/ridgedalelibrary

We also LOVED the children’s reading garden at Roseville.  What an amazing outdoor space for kids and families to explore.  They also have an outdoor area where they can do storytime.  The “floor” of the storytime area is squishy and bouncy and I’m sure the four of us looked a little strange jumping around out there, but we couldn’t help ourselves!   

 Children's Reading Garden--Roseville

4.          Tell me about what it was like for you as a staff to do something like this together.  Did it accomplish what you hoped it would?
It isn’t often that we get to do something like this, so it is very exciting for some of us to break away from the library and get to see in person what other libraries look like, what their vision for service to children and teens is and, most importantly, to get ideas!  My goal was to get more ideas for our early literacy area (Play and Learn), which we did.  However, I think looking at other libraries really made my staff appreciate the library we work at and the beautiful space that we get to work in every day!

5.           What are some must-see libraries for IFLS librarians, and why?
Ridgedale is a must-see if you can swing it.  I have been there two times and I have come home both times with SO many ideas of things to try in our room.  Last year we also visited the downtown St. Paul library, the Hopkins Branch of the Hennepin Co. System and the new-ish Minneapolis Library.  Of those three, I would return to Hopkins.  It is a small branch library, but I loved their early literacy space.  I think it is a good example of what can be done in branch libraries or small libraries where there isn’t someone staffing the Youth Services area. 

6.       How much did this adventure cost?
            The Library paid for our lunch (we get $13.80/ea) and either a rental car or gas.

For more inspiration, see the whole flickr account Shelly set up, with photos of this tour and the one she took last fall, too.   If you have any questions about this adventure, Shelly would love to share ideas with you--she always gets more ideas, herself, when she has a chance to talk with other librarians.

A spot with chalk board contact paper where kids can practice writing their ABC's - great big spot and wonderful for kids who haven't developed those fine motor skills needed for writing on lined paper.  Plus, who doesn't like to write on a chalk board?  (do they even have those in classrooms anymore?)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Parenting Programs Can Fill a Need

There is a great post in the ALSC Blog about parenting programs at the library.  If you can find the right topic and the right night, you will end up with a surprising number of parents who are hungry for information and resources!

I used to coordinate events at a family resource center, and I was astonished at the number of parents who would sign up--and then show up-- for a Parenting Your Spirited Child session I ran with the county extension agent, or a series of discussions based on the book How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, or one fabulous, huge parenting extravaganza with multiple speakers that a bunch of agencies collaborated on.  Providing free childcare really helped, but parents were so ready for a chance to learn and discuss parenting issues. Is there someone in your community already doing this, or someone you could collaborate with to do it at the library?  I bet there is. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music Ideas for Storytime!

Many thanks to Jill Patchin of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire for this guest post:

I have XM radio in my car and a 2 year old, so we listen to Kids Place Live quite a bit (and I confess to listening to it even after I drop him off at day care!).  I have discovered lots of fun new songs that I may be able to use in storytime, or just songs that I love.  Here you go!

Moose on the Loose from the new album Ozokidz by the group  Ozomatli
No one in the consortium has this yet.  It is so much fun! You could maybe use it with shakers, or just listen to it incessantly at your desk and chair dance.

Everybody Eats When They Come to My House by Cab Calloway
I think this would be fun in a rhyming storytime or food storytime.  There is also a fun video for this song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvkCEEj4I2s

Chicken Monkey Duck by Mike Phirman. 
This would be a fun song to do popsicle puppets with.  Divide the group into thirds and each is a chicken, monkey or duck.  Raise your puppet when the song says your animal.  Or no puppets, just raise your arms.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Adding in Play-time

Especially in smaller towns, with no YMCA or other places for indoor gross-motor exploration by toddlers, adding in some time for playing to a toddler/preschool storytime makes a lot of sense.  Two relatively new IFLS librarians are drawing on their early-childhood backgrounds to do just that.

In Balsam Lake, Michele, a retired kindergarten and first grade teacher, definitely sees the need for kids to have a chance to move their bodies, so her preschool storytimes start with some organized play time.  She says with that addition,  by the time the story part rolls around, kids are better able to pay attention.

Tunnel Explorer in Bloomer

In Bloomer, Kathy says:

"Toddler storytime is about half an hour, I sing and read short interactive books and songs for 10-20 minutes depending on the day and the rest of the time is playtime! Last spring we had a few boys who were rough and tumble so I wanted to add some large muscle to our storytime. I got the tunnel, sensory balls, foam blocks a group of board books, and we got a new rug that I also use for large motor! I asked the Friends for donation money to amp up our toddler storytime to keep social time more about social and less about behavior control."