Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nonfiction Promotion

If you are familiar with my library, you will know that we have almost no display space.  Our endcaps are also all metal, rather than slatwall, so we can't display at the ends of our ranges.  This makes it really difficult to increase circulation of our nonfiction for anything other than homework or hot topics (dinosaurs, animals, etc.)

We did come up with a good solution.  Since the endcaps are metal, magnets would stick to them.  We found plastic magnetic sign holders through Demco and purchased a couple of them.  Then we looked for a way to highlight nonfiction books on in these sign holders.  So we don't clutter up our endcaps, we have 2 sign holders in our nonfiction area.  One sign rotates monthly through different themes.  For example, April is National Poetry Month.  In addition to a title, we include cover art, titles, and call numbers.  This way if someone sees something that they like on the sign, they can find it on the shelf and take it home.

Our other sign rotates less frequently (normally quarterly).  It is still built around a theme.  Two recent ones we have had are Cinderella stories (or fairy tales do not circulate well) and Caldecott Nonfiction Winners (see below).

While the signs don't provide the instant gratification for people who just want to pick a book off of a display, they do provide the tools to find them.  It is a fun way to highlight different areas of our nonfiction section.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Great Shelf Challenge-Day 4

The middle of the picture book F section has some great authors.  In our library, these books are always out because they are either classics or new popular books.  You've got Jules Feiffer, Marjorie Flack, Candace Fleming, Denise Fleming, Brian Floca, Greg Foley, Mem Fox, Marla Frazee, and Don Freeman.  These are authors that we, as children's librarians, are all familiar with because we are constantly using their books in our story times and on our booklists.  Really, I don't need to say much about them-they sell themselves.

The three that I would like to highlight from the middle F's are both by Valorie Fisher. Two of them pair up really well. 

Both of these books work really well for young children in story times about families.  They are easy to read and the photographs are real.  The kids really identify with them.

If you missed Everything I Need to Know Before I'm Five, you will definitely want to check it out.  It takes all of those concept books that we stock and puts them all together in a visually appealing format.  I don't think that we have any other book in the library that has labels on the side for ABC's, 123's, colors, and shapes (we label our concept books by concepts).

With four days left in the month, I will be back to finish up the F section next week.  There's at least one big author left!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flannel Friday-Five Senses

This week we talked about the five senses in our Music and Movement program and I thought that I would share our two flannelboards from that session.  The pieces aren't fancy-just clip art.  The fun parts are the rhymes!

Two little eyes to look around.
Two little ears to hear each sound.
One little nose to smell what's sweet.
One little mouth that likes to eat.
Two little hands to touch and play.
My five senses help me all day!
I don't remember where this second rhyme originally came from, but it appears a lot in early childhood programming books.  You can sing it to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", but I like to just say it.  We play it as a game where the kids shout out the answers when I get to the underlined words.
If a bird you want to hear,
You have to listen with your ear.
If you want to dig in the sand,
Hold the shovel in your hand.
To see an airplane as it flies,
You must open up your eyes.
To sniff a violet or a rose,
You sniff the fragrance through your nose.
 When you walk across the street,
You use two things you call your feet.
East and west and north and south,
To eat or talk you use your mouth.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Andrea at Roving Fiddlehead Kidlit.  For more information about Flannel Friday, check out the official blog.  If you are looking for flannel ideas, make sure you check out the Flannel Friday Pinterest page.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talking with Books

Talking and reading are both important early literacy skills.  A great way to highlight these skills is to talk about books during story time.  While it sounds difficult, it is really quite easy with practice.  Here's how I do it:

I start off by propping my books up on a counter at the front of our story time area.  As the kids are coming into the room, we discuss what the theme of the week will be.  Many covers give good clues to the words, even for kids who can't read yet.  A great example is Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  I like to ask the kids what they see.  Most actually know the lemon shape, which I would have thought would have been hard for them.  Then we talk about the colors on the cover.  What color is the lemon?  What colors are lemons supposed to be?  This is usually when they have the "Aha!" moment and realize that this is silly (gotta love 2 year old humor).  I also point out that they have discovered the title of the story.  I read and point to the words as I say "Lemons are not red".

Then we start the story.  After I say "Lemons are not red", I ask "What color are lemons?"  Seeger gives the kids hints by making the pages the correct color.  For example, the lemon pages are yellow, but the lemon-shaped die cut shows through to a red page.  Then we turn the page to carrots.  I ask, "Are carrots purple?"  While you will normally get at least one kid in the group who gets the color right, but I did have a girl today who insisted that she has had purple carrots.  Since we weren't in a hurry, we then let her tell her story about eating purple carrots.  

Another good example to use is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.  In addition to using colors and animals that are familiar to most young children, many children can already recite the entire story.  This doesn't mean that they don't want to hear it again-they do.  They also want to help tell the story.

I start off by showing the cover and asking what animal is on the front.  It's a bear!  What color is the bear?  He's brown.  Then I say something like, "Our story today is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"  When playing with this book, it helps if you know the story.  If you don't, I recommend typing it out and taping it to the back cover so you can easily see it and know when to flip the pages.  While you can read it the traditional way, I like to have the kids help tell the story.  To do this, they need to see the pictures to name the animals and colors.  I start off by reading, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?  I see a..."  Then I flip the page and most of the kids will shout out "red bird".  If they don't, I will ask what they see or what color is the bird?  After you get through an animal or two, the kids will know that it is okay to talk (after all, most of the time we encourage them to sit and listen) and will help you tell the story.  You will run into problems when you get to the goldfish.  Most of the kids will call it orange and that is correct.  You can either change the words to reflect that or say something like, "Wow, you are right.  Today, though, we are going to call it gold, which is a shade of orange."  At the end of the story, there is a picture of all of the animals.  The kids like to say all of the animals again with you.

Final Things to Remember
While I don't do this type of thing all the time, it is a good trick to have because it shows parents how to talk about a story.  We are the examples that they will follow because we are the experts.  Some people think that you have to stick to the words of the story and read it straight through, but sometimes it is fun to stop and talk about the pictures.  If you need some ideas of books to use, I like to start with color books because colors tend to be one of the easiest examples of seeing something (like the color) and having the words to match. You can see that both of the books above are about colors. Also, if you are going to talk about a book, the kids will want to talk about it too.  This takes time.  Build in some extra time in your story time so you aren't rushing through.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Flannel Friday-If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

I don't know how I have missed creating this flannelboard before when I use If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff all the time.  It is the theme of our next Play to Learn early literacy program, which I will be doing at another location.  Since I will be traveling, I want a flannelboard that will be portable and that multiple kids can use at one time.  It's time for another pizza box flannelboard!

If you haven't used If You Give a Mouse a Cookie before, it is a great example of a circular story.  I made the pieces small enough so I could fit multiple on top of a 10-inch pizza box.  My goal is for the kids to see if this happens, then this will happen (or that the mouse and the cookie are both on the board at the same time.)  I couldn't find any patterns so I drew my own (warning-parts are not to scale, but I am okay with that).  The pieces are all cut out of felt and details are done with puffy paint.  For the mirror, I added silver glitter glue

I added in a little early literacy by writing the color names on the crayons.

I was running behind on writing this post this week so the paint on my flannel pieces is still wet.  The story book couldn't be moved, but I took a picture of it anyways.  To make it look like an actual book, I tried to draw Pigeon with blue puffy paint (it kind of looks like a cross between Pigeon and a blue dog to me.)

Miss Courtney Meets Bobo is hosting this week's Flannel Friday round-up.  For all things Flannel Friday, check out the blog.  If you are planning upcoming story times, check out the Flannel Friday Pinterest page.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Poetry Month Display

This is a display that I have been looking forward to putting together because it encompasses so many different sections.  Poetry is an area that really speaks to Common Core because there are many fun ways you can pair the books.  I try to share something a little different every time I write a post on displays (feel free to check out the tag on the right for past posts).  This time I am going to talk about what books to use.  

While you could highlight only your poetry section (811.54), chances are that customers are already finding it.  We have a lot of school assignments here where kids are required to read poetry.  The first kids always pull all of the Shel Silverstein books and then they choose based on length and covers (we all remember what it was like to be in school and have five assignments at once).

Let's start by pulling some fiction into this display.  While it may be shelved in your jfic area, there are great books that really are poetry.  Why not pair them with poetry?  Three examples that come to my mind are Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, and Love that Dog by Sharon Creech.  There are more, especially if you search the YA area too.  An added bonus for us is that all three of these books have won awards (1 Newbery and 2 Mitten).

Next up, why not check out your nursery rhyme section (398.8).  While many are for the younger set, there are some good books for older kids.  Personally, I like Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose by Leo and Diane Dillon.  Also, there is nothing that says that a display has to be geared towards one age group.  You can use a book or 2 for little kids.  They like poetry too.  I pulled out Lucy Cousins Book of Nursery Rhymes as my display seems to have a lot of blue books.

Have you forgotten to check the biography section?  Even if you don't have a lot of books on poets, chances are good that you have at least one book on Shakespeare.  

Is there a way that you can pull your databases into the display?  We pay good money for them and this is a way to highlight them to your customers.  Two that we use here that would fit are Biography InContext and Literature Resource Center.

A sign helps to pull the entire display together.  You don't always have to be obvious, such as by saying "National Poetry Month".  This month I used a Wordle of poets' names (also to remind me how to refill the display).

Finally, raid your poetry section.  Personally, I would skip the books that everyone already checks out.  This is your chance to highlight other fun titles.  Also, don't forget to check your 821 section (British poetry).

Our final product has many different areas of the library represented, from fiction to nursery rhymes to databases.  I really like how it turned out this month.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Weeding 101

It's the part of our job most of us dread-weeding time!  If you are one of those people who doesn't have much experience with weeding or cringes every time you have to start, here are some helpful hints to get you started (or keep you going).

First of all, weeding is not personal.  The world is not going to end because you had to withdraw a Judy Blume book from your collection.

Weeding is a necessity if you want to purchase new items.  Eventually you will run out of shelf space.

For us, shelves that aren't totally full tend to circulate better than shelves that are packed full of books.  Personally, I think this has to due with the laws of supply and demand-if it looks like somebody is using a section, others will want to also.

There are always some items you will not weed, even if they don't get the stats you want.  At our branch we don't weed award winners (Newbery, Caldecott, etc.), because even if they aren't checked out, they are frequently used in the building by teachers and college students.

Decide on your parameters before you look at the section.  Otherwise, once you get there it is very easy to want to keep everything and it becomes really easy to rationalize. 

You can use different parameters for different sections.  After all, every section circulates differently.  For example, in our jfic area, a book needs to go out five times in one year.  So if it has been on the shelf for five years, it needs to circulate 25 times.  In our juvenile book on cd section, it just needs to circ one time.  These are numbers that we came up with for our collection through years of trial and error.  They may not work for everyone.

Condition of the items is important.  If a book is falling apart, if the spine is broken, or if the cover is torn, your customers will not want to take the item home.  If it isn't something that you can easily fix through mending, that item should be pulled and either weeded or replaced.  A good example of this section is our board book collection.  We rarely have to weed due to low circ.  It is frequently weeded because of the condition of the books.

You may notice weird things while weeding that you will want to change.  For example, we used to have really high numbers of jfic books that needed to be weeded, even though we had space on the shelves for them.  We switched the length of time that we keep our new books labeled as such from 6 months to 9 months and this has made a big difference in circulation for both collections.

As a side note, many people suggest displays to keep low circulating titles from being weeded.  If this is something that you want to try, you need to be very proactive with it.  After all, one circulation of an item will not help most of us.  It needs to be more of an ongoing thing.  Two ways to make this work are to highlight an entire collection for a length of time, such as poetry in April.  Otherwise make your display and keep a list of what you want on that display (we can do this right through our ILS).  Then, as the items are returned, put them back on the display.  Since most items go out for a couple of weeks, you will want this to be a long-term display of at least a month or two.

For a more comprehensive list, you may want to check out the Sunlink Weed of the Month Archives.  They used to highlight nonfiction collections monthly, but now have one big list.  A good overview, especially of nonfiction, can be found on the Arizona State Library site.  For an interesting take on how much to weed, you may want to check out a presentation from PLA 2010 on relative use statistics.

Monday, April 15, 2013

After the Conference

Last week I attended the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute.  If you live in the Midwest, it is definitely worth checking out!  I came out with a lot of notes, new ideas, and networking connections.  So what do you do after you get back from a conference?

First, I take the weekend off.  While I know that this sounds funny, I just spent the past couple of days attached to my iPad and iPhone, between taking notes, posting Tweets, or connecting with other librarians.  I needed two days of tech detox.

When I get back to work, after clearing the mountainous pile of emails and voicemails, I take a look at my notes.  Luckily they are already typed up for me (I use the app CloudOn, which connects to my Google Drive account).  I start off by adding in program descriptions so I can look at them in the future.  I add in anything that I missed, such as web sites.  Since I am a big fan of taking pictures of cool displays or ideas with my phone, I add those pictures right into the notes too.  Here is what my notes look like.  Now they make sense if I pass them on to my coworkers or look at them again in 6 months.

Then it is time to make sense of my random notes and brainstorming.  Sometimes programs spark other ideas that I write down.  Above is what my notes look like.  As you can see, there is no order to them (some are even upside down)-that is the point of brainstorming.

Finally, what are you going to do with the new information?  While listening to programs, everything sounds cool and you are excited to try everything.  Once you are back in the real world, you can pull out what has stayed with you.  What do you have the staff/funds/time to put into place?  Can you take part of an idea and implement it?  This is the fun part!  Most of us don't attend conferences and stay in a vacuum-we want to try new things.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Great Shelf Challenge-Day 3

I am still working my way through E F for the Great Shelf Challenge.  Today I am on E Fearnley and E Fearrington.

E Fearnley encompasses four books by Jan Fearnley.  Mr. Wolf's Pancakes and Mr. Wolf and the Three Bears would work well as a story time book using popular fairy tales or paired with Keiko Kasza's The Wolf's Chicken Stew.  Both books have Mr. Wolf as the main character and we all know how often the Big Bad Wolf appears in children's literature!  The kids, preschoolers especially, will love these titles as they will "get" the humor.  Her other two titles, Milo Armadillo and Martha in the Middle, are both about little girls who solve a problem.  I really liked Martha in the Middle and can definitely see myself recommending it to other middle children.

E Fearrrington has one book called Who Sees the Lighthouse? by Ann Fearrington.  While it is in the picture book room and has a counting label on the side, it's real niche is going to be with teachers.  The rhyme works for young kids, but the lighthouses in the illustrations are all real lighthouses.  In addition, the endpapers list all of the lighthouses by state.  It is really interesting.  In Michigan the elementary kids have to do lighthouse reports since we have a lot of lighthouses along our coastline.  Their teachers are the ones that need to use this book because it would pair really well with the lighthouse assignment.  Plus, I like fiction and nonfiction pairings now that Michigan is adopting the Common Core Standards.

Next week I will continue through the F's.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's Time for a Dance Party!

I love to pull out our Dance Party program multiple times a year.  You may remember a past post from here.  They work really well in between story time sessions or during the summer.  They serve the great purpose of bringing kids (and their families) into the library, while highlighting our cd collection.  Plus, we all have fun.

Set Up
In our building we have to register, especially for young children's programs.  I set our cap at 25 children for this program, because they all bring their entourage with them (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.).  We could easily have 75 people in the room and I have to plan for both space for the children to dance and safety so they aren't tripping over each other.

Due to the amount of people we have in the room, our cd player just won't cut it.  I have to bring in our iPod and hook it through our meeting room speakers.  By having more control over the sound, I have an easier time holding control over the group.  The music isn't too loud that it will scare the kids, but it isn't too quiet that a screaming baby or a mom talking on her cell phone will ruin the program.

If you haven't done a music program like this before, an important consideration is the mix of music.  You want a good combination of fast and slow songs.  I like songs that encourage imagination or highlight specific actions.  If you do all fast songs, you will lose control of the group and will end up with a roomful of toddlers just running around.  If you do all slow, they will get bored.  Also, think of this as an educational program.  Yes, it is fun, but we are working on gross motor skills.  Songs that highlight actions like stomping, clapping, etc. all help the children work on these skills.  I also like to throw in some of our story time songs as the kids already know those and this helps them to be comfortable doing something new.

Discography (aka The Song List)
1.  If You're Happy and You Know It by Old Town School of Folk Music on Songs for Wiggleworms
2.  Drivin' In My Car by Ralph Covert on Ralph's World
3.  Rockets by Steve Roslonek on Music Time with SteveSongs, Volume 1
4.  Dance, Freeze, Melt by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Rockin' Red
5.  The Airplane Song by Laurie Berkner on Whaddaya Think of That?-We make airplane puppets to "help" the kids fly.  Check here for an example.
6.  The Monkey Dance by The Wiggles on Yummy Yummy
7.  Super Silly Tango by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Yummy Yellow
8.  Wiggle Your Lah-De-Dah by Ralph Covert on All Around Ralph's World
9.  Beep Beep by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Bouncy Blue-We made paper plate steering wheels from Storytiming.
10.  Jumping and Counting by Jim Gill on Jim Gill's Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense
11.  The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner on Victor Vito
12.  The Mack Chicken Dance by Greg & Steve on Big Fun

How It Went
We had a great group of kids for this program and everybody had a great time.  They liked that they could take the 2 props home (airplane and steering wheel), which I think encourages them to reenact our songs at home.  Plus, you can't beat the cuteness of having 25 toddlers pretending to sleep in The Goldfish or driving in a line behind you while playing Beep Beep. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Storytime Swap

Thanks to Storytime ABC's, it is time for another Storytime Swap!  Kay put all of our names in a hat and matched us up to a partner who we will trade "treasures" with just in time for summer.  I gave my partner, Amanda, a list of possible choices and she chose:

Yep, Pete the Cat is back again!  He seems to appear here a lot since he is my favorite children's character.  You may remember him from here, here, or here.  Since I have done Pete the Cat before, I figured I should add to him so you have something new to look at.  Amanda had asked if I could cut some extra felt shoes since we have a die cut machine and this got me thinking.  

Pete now has numbers to match his 4 groovy buttons.  Now we can work on early math skills by counting the buttons and matching the amount to the number.  You can use all 5 numbers on the board or do something like this:

Amanda had asked for additional colored shoes for Pete so her kids could match them up.   Here's what I came up with:

If you don't want to use your feltboard, you can pull out your clothesline and do something like this:

Finally, since you have the shoes and you have the numbers, you can do some additional counting like this:

This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Lucy at In the Children's Room.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Great Shelf Challenge-Day 2

Are you participating in the Great Shelf Challenge?  I am on day 2 of posting what I have found.  (See here for day 1.)  Lucky for me, someone came through last night and checked out a whole bunch of Olivia books.  This means that I am done with E Falconer now and can move on!

Hidden Gems 
Polo and the Magic Flute by Regis Faller-I totally missed this one when it came out, but it would work well on a wordless picture book list.  The illustrations also resemble those of a graphic novel, even though it looks like a hardcover picture book.

Polo: The Runaway Book-see above.

Word Wizard by Cathryn Falwell-This is a good pick for early elementary students who are just learning how words are put together.  In a magical way, Falwell flips letters to show how different words can be made up of the same letters (for example-shore and horse).

Good for Story Time
Mystery Vine by Cathryn Falwell-This would fit well with a gardening or a Halloween story time (or Dig into Reading).  The rhymes are good and the text isn't too long so this would work well for 2-6 year olds.

Shape Capers by Cathryn Falwell-I have been trying for ages to figure out how to flannelize this story for story time.  While the characters in the story look really young (almost babyish) in their hooded outfits, this is a fun introduction to shapes.  At the end of the story, they even build things out of the shapes (like a rocket ship).

For more information on the Great Shelf Challenge, visit here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Joining the iTunes Generation

A couple of years ago our trusty story time cd player died.  I don't know if you have had to go looking for inexpensive cd players lately, but they are near impossible to find.  This forced us to look for other alternatives.  Now, I know that not everyone is comfortable with iPods and iTunes, but below is how to use them and why I think that they are great for children's librarians.

Set-Up (or What You Need to Get Started)
We pulled our iPod out of the box and noticed that it was a bit quiet for our purposes.  We tend to have between 25-50 people in an average program and need the music to sound over them.  After talking to our trusty IT guys, they rigged an av port in the wall, especially for the iPod, that will hook into our meeting room sound system.  This did force us to also get a base for our iPod with an av cord, but it also has a remote control (I am all about the remote control).

Next Step: Setting Up Your Music
The first part of this step is easy-just load your program cds into iTunes.  The second part requires a little thought.  iTunes uses something called playlists.  Think of playlists as cataloging your own music collection by theme.  I run many playlists based on how I use them.  A few of them include Parachute Games,  Possible Dance Party Songs, Shaker Songs, etc.

After you name your playlists, listen to your cds and move songs that fit into your various playlists.  I don't know if you can see mine well (it is my first shot at combing snip and screen shots), but I have a separate playlist for each of the different story times that I run.  There is also a playlist for possible story time songs.  When I want to shake up my lineup, this is my first stop.  It saves me a lot of time because I have already gone through the songs once and know that all of the songs will fit.  For Possible Parachute Songs, I tend to look for songs that go around, such as Ring Around the Rosie, or up and down, such as The Wheels on the Bus.  If a song uses shakers, scarves, or ribbons, they each go into a separate playlist.

Cool Things You Can Do
You may also notice that at the top left of each playlist under the title is the total time used for all of the songs.  This is really helpful when planning a half-hour parachute game program when you want your songs to equal 25-30 minutes.

If multiple people in your organization use iTunes, you may want to check out the Home Sharing option (File-Home Sharing).  The only glitch here is that you will all want the same iTunes account (maybe use a reference desk email to create your account).

Also, if you are still in the cd generation, iTunes will burn you a disc with your playlist.  This way you aren't scrambling to switch cds in between stories and rhymes.

 Thinking About Copyright and iTunes
As librarians, copyright is one of those things that we tend to think of.   We want our performers and authors to keep churning out items for us so we don't want to abuse things like iTunes.  Here are some things that I do to keep my use fair:
  • We purchase every single cd that I load into iTunes for program use.  The only time that we don't is when they are out-of-print.  If it is a cd that I will use all of the time (such as for story time), I will purchase 1 copy to put in our professional collection.
  • When I use iTunes for a program, I either pull all of the cds into the room for people to check out (as a display) or I create a discography to pass out.  I like to promote new artists and their cds.  Customers love it because they hear the music and want to go out and buy their own copies.  Plus, they look to us as "experts" and if we say something is good, chances are good that they will believe us.
  • This is for educational purposes.  We aren't running any of our programs for profit.  All of our programs tie into early literacy or education.  I don't keep my personal music on my work iTunes so I don't blur the lines.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Great Shelf Challenge

Many of us have joined up with the Great Shelf Challenge 2013.  The goal of this challenge is to get us to explore our collection in a manageable way.  My goal is to read my way through our E F section (or all of the picture books whose author's last name start with F). 

About this section
I work at a busy branch location with a high focus on children's materials.  That being said, the section that I have chosen has 180 books when they are all checked in.  Hmm, maybe I should have chosen X.

Starting at the beginning
Our first author in the F's is Ian Falconer, author of the popular Olivia series.  Titles today include Olivia Forms a Band, Olivia Saves the Circus, Olivia Builds a Snowlady, Olivia Cooks Up a Surprise, Olivia Meets Olivia, Olivia and the School Carnival, and Olivia and the Best Teacher Ever.  So customers can easily find all of the Olivia books together, we shelve the ones based on the tv series with the original ones written by Ian Falconer.  The originals by Falconer are, by far, better written and illustrated.  They can also be easily read in one sitting.  The ones based on the tv show have a LOT of words and tell you everything that is happening.  They are still mischievous, but they don't leave much to the imagination.  These books are still popular and fill a niche.

Tomorrow I will continue through the world of Olivia.

Happy Accidents (aka My Online Book Club)

You know how you sometimes will come up with a great idea and your execution is perfect, but your participants take something totally different than your goal away from it?  That is what happened to one of my ongoing creations.

In 2008 I wanted to add an ongoing program for school-aged kids to our lineup, but we were overscheduled as it was.  If we wanted to add a program, we needed to get rid of something else and that is hard to do when you are talking about cutting a story time.  My brilliant solution was to start an online book club.  I looked around online and the few people that had tried it before did not have success with it.  I figured that it was worth a shot and started one up.

How it Works 
I based the design of our club on our newsletter cycle so it comes out three times a year (winter, summer, and fall).  I buy extra copies of the books and make a nifty display in the same place in our juvenile fiction area.  Every book that goes on the display has a bookmark with 4-6 discussion questions and directions on how to post kids' answers online (see example).  Our IT guys also set up a special email address so kids could just email me their answers (in case their parents didn't want them online) and I would post their answers.

What Happened? (or the Happy Accident)
I am sitting here 4 1/2 years later and I have gotten under 10 posts over that time frame.  You may wonder why I don't scrap the program.  Here's why:
  1. I can't keep the display stocked with Online Book Club selections.  While other displays are hit-or-miss as to whether customers take the titles-this one is a definite winner.  In addition, the bookmarks with the discussion questions are always removed when the books are returned (which leads me to think that at some point, someone is pondering those questions).
  2. The Kids Read site is getting consistent traffic.  It's not just librarians searching for discussion questions that end up here.  People in our community are actually looking at the site with the direct web address or coming over from our library web site through a link.
  3. It takes about 2-3 hours on my time to set up the books, questions, displays, and bookmarks each time it changes.  In the grand scheme of things, that really isn't a lot when I am still getting interest.
You can see why this is a happy accident.  Do I get results like I thought I would?  No.  Do I get something that may be better?  Definitely, yes!  I learned from this that it is always worth trying something out.  You never know what you will get.
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