One of the big events that we do at least 1 time each summer is a story time in the park. When we do these events, it is not uncommon to have 150 people at our story time. When we choose books, props, and flannelboards, we look for ones that we can make bigger so everyone can see them. This summer, we did a movement story time that included The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants by Eric Litwin. Not only is it a great story, but the figures are pretty easy to make larger. We used fun foam and puffy paint to create our figures. As one person read the story, another danced with their nut to go along with the words.
Lisa at Thrive After Three has two great apple posts this week. She shows off her Ten Red Apples prop, along with her individual lapboards in her first post. In her second post, she shows off her fancy 10 Apples Up on Top hat.
Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime shows off her Five Friends Play Dress Up. She has an astronaut, a pirate, a cowboy, a ninja, and Frankenstein.
Wendy at Flannel Board Fun has created Flip, Flap, Fly! so she can show off a larger version for her groups.
Trains are BIG at my library so when I saw this program on Pinterest, I knew that I could tweak it to make it work for my kiddos. We registered 40 kids as I needed to collect and store 40 boxes.
At the program, we started with a short story time. I read A Train Goes Clickety-Clack by London and I Love Trains! by Sturges. We also did a flannelboard of Toot Toot! Then we started the crafts.
Craft 1: Make Conductor Hats We precut conductor hats that were printed on white cardstock. The kids colored their hats and attached them to 3-inch headbands.
Craft 2: Make a Train Engine The hardest part about this craft was collecting and storing 40 boxes. Each kid got a box. We precut other parts so the kids could grab what they needed to make wheels, the cattle catcher and the light on the front of the train. We provided 2 signs-one that listed what parts to pick up and one that showed how I put my train together.
How It Turned Out
Not only did our PR person love this program as she got to take cute pics for our web site, but the kiddos had a lot of fun. Many of them ended up pushing their train engines along the floor. It was super fun! I already have a list of people asking when we are going to do it again.
Last night we held our 2nd annual literacy night at the library with one of our schools. These are always great fun and we have a couple of schools that we currently do them with. As we were setting up, Julie, one of my awesome School Outreach Librarians, said that we should post this online somewhere as we have become pros at putting them together. I love them from a manager's perspective as they are inexpensive and bring whole families into the library. Here is this year's plan:
Setting Up a Lit Night Start early, especially if they want one in March as a part of "March is Reading Month". Our calendar does fill up quickly so we are definitely booking our literacy nights by late fall. Plus, that way we can work our schedule and our programming around the literacy night. We start by asking the principals. If you don't have a relationship with your targeted principal and get no response, try either a teacher or their PTO. For one of our schools, we host a kindergarten only literacy night. They also have 4 kindergartens at that school so we easily pull in 100+ people on those nights.
Once a school is on board, they will promote the program for you. Some schools will give extra credit for attending since it is a part of "March is Reading Month". They will put it on their take-home calendars, their Facebook pages, and some will even create special flyers.
Your job is to book your space. We prefer to host them in our children's room, but at our branches, we need to hold the program mostly in the meeting rooms due to space (such as in the case below). We set our program up as stations so parents can come and go during the 2-hour block, depending on when they get home from work, eat dinner, etc. There is some prep work in getting the stations ready. While our stations are mostly focused on literacy, we do throw in some STEAM.
Our Stations As people enter the room, we set up any drawings that we have going on. Sometimes it is a "Guess How Many Legos" container, while other times they need to just write their name on a slip. This year we gave away extra summer reading books in bookbags that we had leftover.
Our next station was a Pout-Pout Fish reader's theater. Kids had to make their headbands, then act out the words. We used sentence strips to make the headbands and glued fish die cuts to them.
We have been using The Day the Crayons Quit a lot in outreach this spring. Some of our outreach adventures have involved a craft so we had bulk ordered a bunch of chunky crayons. You can make your own crayon guy to go with the story by adding googly eyes to the crayon. Kids then wrote a letter or draw a picture as to why their crayon shouldn't quit.
Our fourth station was an engineering challenge. We cut pool noodles into 1-inch pieces and kids built with the noodles and toothpicks. This station also had some older kid appeal.
Have you ever played Race to 100? This is a math game using dice that also has older kid appeal.
To get the families out in the library, we had a scavenger hunt for children's book characters. We like to use characters because it gets kids talking about books. As kids finished the hunt, they got a CMPL pencil.
Our last station was out in the children's area. Kids made books based on Press Here by Tullet. They folded 2 pieces of paper in half to make their book. Then they chose a new verb out of our container for each page and added both words and dots.
While this wasn't part of our original plan, it definitely will be in the future! The school asked if we had a place to hang artwork since parents would be attending with their children. We have racks that we moved over to this location and they brought their artwork to display. It was very eye-catching.
This is what we did this time around for our literacy night. It was an Amy and Julie production (my 2 School Outreach Librarians) and I just went along as an extra set of hands. If you haven't done one before, it is totally worth it!
I have been doing a bunch of traveling to other libraries for ideas as we are working on our Family Place certification. Here are some of my favorite pictures:
Farmington Community Library Farmington is a local library who centered their children's room around your senses. My favorite alcove is their "Hear It!" where you can try out various musical instruments.
Howell Carnegie District Library Howell is another local-ish library. We visited them as they created a great Family Place space in a smaller space and we wanted to see how they did it. Plus, it is always great to get tips from someone who has gone through the process! My favorite part about their children's area is the tree in the story time room for the presenter!
Middle Country Public Library I visited MCPL as a part of our Family Place training and they have an awesome outside area called a Nature Explorium. They center different areas of the garden around different themes-play, create, etc.
This is a water painting wall.
A bench that is also a xylophone
That's all I have for now. Keep an eye out as I will be visiting Colorado this spring and will have more pictures of library spaces.
As a manager, circulation is a big number that I have to take into account. We use it when purchasing, weeding, and making major decisions. Every year I was running our juvenile nonfiction circulation stats and they kept dropping (anywhere from 8-20% per year). Our overall circulation during the same time was not having the same drastic decreases. One year was a 3% drop, while another was a 19% increase. Things were good overall, but this section needed some attention. The hard part was that I couldn't weed it down too much as many of the books are used for school and reports. After a year of watching data, we knew that we needed to change.
Research No big project should ever be started without some research. We looked at other big nonfiction changes around the country and talked to libraries. They were getting amazing results-some circulation was even up 20-30%!
Some links that may help you in your research include:
Decisions, Decisions After your research, you have to decide what you are going to do and how to do it. Our challenge was that we have 3 locations-a Main Library and 2 branches. Both branches interfiled their adult and juvenile nonfiction. Whatever we chose to test out had to work for both children and adults.
We decided that a modified version of BISAC was our best bet. We went mostly with the adult subject headings, but there were a couple of children's ones that we needed to add in (ex. Fairy Tales and Folklore). There were a couple of places where we combined subjects or made up headings to suit our needs (ex. Literature). We also wanted to pare down our list to just the headings that we needed. My boss originally wanted 15, but we negotiated up to 35. If we were just reclassifying children's, we could have gone with a smaller number.
The Work Once the decisions are all made, you are set to get to work. My boss let us hire a college student who was home for the summer to do all of our relabeling. Our ILS allows us to make bulk changes so we were able to change whatever was relabeled on a given day. This took 2 months of 1 person working 10 hours a week to change a 20,000 item collection.
Once the entire section was relabeled, it was time to move the books. If I were doing it again, I would pull a bunch of people to move them over a couple of days. It took 2 of us 3 weeks to move them all. This was also the beginning of our heavy outreach season so it wasn't the best time for a shifting project.
The Final Result Want to see what this looks like? Each section has a sign at the beginning that identifies the section. All spine labels in this section (Science) would start with SCIENCE to help with shelving. Once in a section, the call numbers are filed by Dewey number.
We always start new sections at the top of a bay of shelves to make it easier on the customers. We also added a lot of face-outs-all of the top shelves in the nonfiction section are now face-outs.
Instead of Dewey numbers on our endcaps, we now list sections.
What Do Our Customers Think? We've now had this new organization system in place for 4 months. We are pulling our circulation stats every 3 months to monitor how it is doing over this year. After our first quarter, juvenile nonfiction is up 18% in circulation!
It is not uncommon for us to now see kids sitting in the middle of aisles with a stack of books that they are perusing. We are seeing less nonfiction location questions from kids because they are better able to find their materials between the signage and the face-outs. I will admit that the parents are less than thrilled their first time that they have to find a juvenile nonfiction book. I get a lot of "What have you done?" After I explain that we are a trial for 1 year because the kids just were not finding the materials and that now they are, they come around. It does take some librarian time showing people how to find their items in the OPAC and what they should write down to find their items on the shelf.
The above is part of a letter from one of our local teachers telling us how much she loved the new organization. It made my day!
What's Next? We are going to keep collecting circulation statistics through mid-September before any future decisions are made. We were a test site for this project so other departments/locations are watching to see what happens.