Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I Became a Librarian

Bowing to Anna's peer pressure (Future Librarian Superhero), here is how Mrs. Lisa became a librarian.

I will be honest-this is never a career that I thought of when I was younger.  I went through the traditional ideas of nurse, doctor, lawyer, and teacher.  I was a regular user of my local public library.  You could regularly see me checking out 30 Sweet Valley High books as that was our teen section 25 years ago.  I was that kid who finished the summer reading program the first week.  I just never put 2 and 2 together and thought of the librarian as a job.

I went to college and have a double major in both psychology and music.  I picked my classes based on what I found interesting with no eye towards the future.  The big thing that was missing was that I never knew what I was going to do after college.  I didn't have a career in mind.  Looking back on it now, how do you realistically expect a 20-year-old to decide what they are going to do for the next fifty years?  Unfortunately, that day after graduation day comes sooner, rather than later and somebody will be expecting you to pay the bills.  My college job as a page at the local public library ended with graduation.

At this point, I still wasn't thinking "career".  I got a full-time job that summer working at our local Barnes and Noble.  While I ran one of the departments, I was the person who got volunteered to put on the costumes for all of our big events.  I don't know if it was my natural exuberance or my gullibility that got me that job.  I have been everything from Lyle Crocodile (worst costume ever to see out of) to Miss Lilly (best EVER accessories-you get her red cowboy boots).

I was still floating around in my not-a-career land when I met my husband and we were about to get engaged.  This was the point where I decided that I needed to do something career wise.  I needed to do something more before the family and kids came along.  I looked at all of my skills and what I liked about my current job and decided to become a librarian.  Until I hit the age of 22, I didn't even know that "librarian" was a job possibility.  If you know me, then you will know that I don't do anything by half measures.  Once I made my decision, I got my application into the local university for their MLIS program, started classes 2 weeks later, and found a job at a local library in their circulation department.  I was THAT person who took four classes a semester so I could finish my degree before I got married.  (My advisor did at least say something this time.)  I switched jobs 6 months later to do straight children's programming at another public library.  By the time I graduated 1 year later, I had the degree and the experience to move into my current library system.  Luckily they were hiring!

I started with my current library system 12 1/2 years ago.  It's not often that you go into an interview and ask for vacation days right away (as I was getting married 2 months later).  I will admit that I was one of the youngest librarians that I knew as I was only 24 at the time of graduation.  I think of my twenties like I think of my teenage years-you think you know everything, but in reality you don't.  I spent the last 12 1/2 years learning on the job before I became a department manager.  I am still learning as every day is an adventure.  (Today I learned where the fire extinguisher was.)  There is always something new to do, a different way of doing things, kids who grow up, etc. that keeps my job interesting.

So that is how I became a librarian.  What did I learn from my experience?  It is important to promote what we do.  If I didn't know that "librarian" was a real career option and I am one, what do you think that the public thinks?  One way I combat this is that with every tour or school visit, I start off with who I am and what I do that makes me a librarian.  We talk about how long I went to school and what I do every day.

How did you become a librarian?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trick-or-Treat at the Library

This morning was our Trick-or-Treat program at the library.  This program was one that I inherited in my new position.  I was given a basic outline of what was done last year, then sent on my merry way to plan a fun morning.  Below is what we did.

We preregistered 50 children, ages 2-5.  It is an extremely popular program that we could probably run all day long if we had enough staff time and supplies.  With 50 children registered, there were around 100 people actually in the program (parents, grandparents, and siblings).  This is one of those programs that you don't want to become too large as somehow you have to move the attendees through the building in an orderly fashion (and nobody wants to stand in a 50 person line).

Story Time Portion
We started off the program with stories, rhymes and flannelboards.  Here is what we did:
  • Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood (gigantic hit!)
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro
  • "The Perfect Pumpkin" Flannelboard from A Storytime Year by Susan Dailey
  • "Halloween Hilda" from Super Storytelling by Carol Catron
  • "Pumpkin, Pumpkin" rhyme
Trick-or-Treat Portion
After the stories, rhymes, and flannelboards, we split the group in half and passed out pumpkin bags.  Included in each bag was a coloring book that we made, 4-pack of crayons with our logo on them, and a Halloween sticker.  Since we have two floors in our building, one group started upstairs and the other group started downstairs.  We took the kids around to each of the 4 service desks, plus our administration area.  

This is what we purchased for the program:

The Wrap-Up
We got a lot of compliments for this program from attendees.  Not only do they get a holiday-themed story time, they also get things to take home.  As you can see from my list of "treats", I didn't want candy.  I wanted things that they could use at home or projects that they could do.  The parents loved not getting more candy.  Another fun thing was that since we went through all of the departments, I heard a lot of comments like "I didn't know this was over here."  This is a program where you can promote everybody in the library.

Staff-wise, it is really difficult to keep 25 kids and their entourages together when they are excited about trick-or-treating.  Next year, I will post one staff member on each floor (at the top and bottom of the stairs) to direct the traffic.  I think that this would help smooth out some of the lines for treats and everybody could work at their own pace.

Flannel Friday-Pumpkin, Pumpkin

This week's contribution is a prop that is perfect for any Halloween story times that you are planning.  I even used it for my Trick-or-Treat program and the prop became one of their treats to take home.  My coworker, Kara, sent me the rhyme and the original idea.

Pumpkin, pumpkin round and fat,

Turned into a jack-o-lantern just like that!

To make your own, I used 2 pumpkin die cuts for each one (one had a face drawn on), some double-sided tape, and a craft stick.  I made 75 of them in about 30 minutes.

I love to send props like this home with the kids for a couple of reasons.  First, it is an inexpensive story stretcher.  Props help them to remember what they did in your program so you don't get a blank look if you ask them.  (Trust me, they can forget anything 5 minutes after it happens.  It is the nature of this age group.)  Second, it promotes imaginative play.  While I am using a pumpkin rhyme with them, they can play trick-or-treat or some other idea that I have never thought of.  The best ideas come out of their brains.  Third, it shows parents that you don't have to be Martha Stewart to make fun craft toys for their kids.  These are not high quality props, but they will be fun.

This week's round-up is hosted by Katie at Storytime Katie.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Pumpkins

In the past our library system has held a giant pumpkin decorating contest where each department submits 1 entry and the public votes.  This is great as we then have ready-made decorations for all of our Halloween programs.  Unfortunately, this year we are making Peep dioramas.  While this is still cool, it doesn't help me with my department decorating. Thanks to the power of Pinterest, I found three fun designs for my department.  Since I used foam pumpkins, I can pull them out again next year.

Can you identify all three?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

50 Apps in 50 Minutes

I just got back from presenting at the Michigan Library Association's Annual Conference with 3 great colleagues (Kara, Lisa, and Alicia) and wanted to share our presentation and some extras.  We presented the topic "50 Apps in 50 Minutes", which includes apps that every children's librarian should be familiar with.  These include apps to make our lives easier at work, apps for story times, apps for programs, and fun book apps.  It was a lot of fun to put together and we are pretty fortunate to be able to use a lot of these apps in our everyday lives.

The Presentation
  • If you missed the presentation or just want to see it again, check out my link on Slideshare
  • Our handout from the program, which includes the apps in numerical order, plus some fun extras (review sources, etc.) can be viewed here.
Other Stuff I Mentioned
We were asked for other ways that we share our app information with parents and I had mentioned our web site.  I did most of the curating of apps and the writing of descriptions and the web team posted it online.  Scroll down to the bottom of our children's page and you will see two big buttons for two different age categories called A+ Apps.

I also mentioned our Tablet Tales program, which is a totally iPad-based story time.  If you have never done one before and have the equipment, I have a post from June which runs through the program.  You can download an outline here for our Farm story time.  We have created an outline for Colors and Transportation, but I haven't gotten posts up on the blog as of yet.  I am currently working out some ideas for a Counting and a Nursery Rhyme theme.

There was also a question about our cases that we use on our programming iPads.  We use the iGuy case by Speck.  My guesstimate of $20 was not close.  It is actually closer to $40.  Here is a link to the site, although you can find them around the Internet.  

After the program, one of the attendees asked which I would prefer for a children's room-AWE stations or iPads.  There are great benefits of both systems.  In addition to early literacy programs, the AWE stations have the keyboards.  On the other hand iPads allow for adaptability.  First, I would look at which direction your schools are going.  Are they using computers or heading towards tablet technology?  Second, do you have somebody on staff who is an app expert or is willing to learn.  When you answer these two questions, you will know which direction you should go.

Something I Forgot to Mention
I forgot about this fact until after the program when I was talking with one of the attendees.  My friend, Kristen Remener (aka Common Core Expert), passed on that eventually testing in schools will be online.  Online reading is a skill, similar to reading fiction or nonfiction, and it is done at different levels.  When Michigan finally puts the Common Core standards into practice, online books and book apps will gain in importance as our kids will need to practice this skill.  The public library is in the perfect spot to be able to offer this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where is the Green Sheep, Take 2

This morning I put on my first Play to Learn program at the new library.  The actual program was the same as I did in August and blogged about here.  Today was more a lesson in logistics (and some showing off on my part).

I moved from putting the program on in a meeting room that seats 100 to having a dedicated children's activity room that seats 24.  (Isn't it pretty?)  I like having the dedicated children's program room, but we had to bump down the program limit to 20 kids.  We also had 4 strollers being pushed around the room with siblings inside so we couldn't ask parents to leave the strollers outside.  This meant that we had to have space enough for those strollers to move around the room.

I put out 2 flannelboards, which are usually stored in our story time room.  The glitch here is that the story time room is on the exact opposite side of the department from the activity room.

Above is another thing that I love.  We have a stuffed couch and chair, along with an end table, in the activity room.  This is the perfect setting for parents to share books with their children!

One end of the room holds three giant magnet walls.  My early literacy juices are running with these.

Plus, we have child-sized tables and benches.  While these are great for kids, the benches are sturdy enough for adults too.

While I liked my old building, I am loving the new one.  There is a lot of untapped potential here as I get settled in. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flannel Friday Round-Up

Welcome to this week's Flannel Friday round-up!  There are a lot of great ideas included that you will want to add to your TBM pile.  Enjoy!

Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime brings us one of those hard story time topics to find ideas for-teeth!  There are multiple rhymes, a flannelboard, and a folder story.

Dana and Lindsey at Jbrary are having a pyjama party this week.  They have a song (with video) to go with their flannelboard.  (On a side note, if you are on Pinterest, you need to follow these gals.  They have a lot of great boards containing books to fit various themes, which is great when you are just starting to plan your programs.) 

You can never have too many monsters.  Mary at Miss Mary Liberry shows us how to make our own felt monsters.  I foresee a whole lot of monster making in our future.

For more monster fun, Kay at Storytime ABC's shows off her I'm a Little Monster.  In addition to being a fun monster song, Kay throws in some color recognition and enough dots for all of the kids to participate.

Are you looking for something a little bit creepy for Halloween?  Check out SLC Book Boy's version of Bone Soup.  His Finnigin has an expanding mouth to fit the story, which is really neat.  Plus, there is just something about those teeth...

You know when you see something really neat and wonder "Why didn't I ever think of that?"  That's the case with Tara's spiderweb.  I never thought that yarn sticks to flannel and would make a great spiderweb in a program.  You have to check it out at Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends. Plus, you will probably be hitting up the Halloween clearance sections like me to pick up some plastic spider rings after seeing her post.

Bridget at What is Bridget Reading? has been busy crocheting some really cute bears to add to her magnet board props.  Her work makes me want to learn to crochet.

Kristen at Let the Wild Rumpus Start shows off her Maisy the Weather Mouse.  This has so much potential!  In addition to using it for getting dressed or weather story times, you can dress Maisy in other things (hint-Halloween costumes).  Plus, with the big emphasis on STEM programming, this Maisy would be perfect for the preschool set.

Leah at Time for Storytime shows off her version of I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.  Her giant-sized whale really does look like it has swallowed all of the ocean animals.

That's all folks!  Have a great week.


Mark your calendars now for these upcoming Flannel Friday dates:
Connect with Flannel Friday in the following ways:
  • On the official Flannel Friday Blog. Here you will find all of our info, including schedules, links to all of our blogs, and past round-ups.
  • On the Flannel Friday Pinterest page.  This is a great resource when you are looking to add a little something extra to your story times.  
  • On the Flannel Friday Facebook page.  While we talk flannel stuff here, we hit a whole range of story time topics.
  • On Twitter.  Use the #flannelfriday hashtag to follow us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Flannel Friday-Brown Bat, Brown Bat

This week is Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza and I knew that I wanted to participate.  Unfortunately, all of my felt and flannelboards are still in boxes from the big move.  As I am doing baby story times for the first time ever, I have been trying to beef up my younger flannelboards.  Who better to be inspired by than Mel's Desk?

Brown bat, brown bat, what do you see?
I see a red leaf looking at me.

Red leaf, red leaf, what do you see?
I see an orange pumpkin looking at me.

Orange pumpkin, orange pumpkin, what do you see?
I see a black cat looking at me.

Black cat, black cat, what do you see?
I see a yellow moon looking at me.

Yellow moon, yellow moon, what do you see?
I see a gray owl looking at me.

Gray owl, gray owl, what do you see?
I see a white ghost looking at me.

I like this rhyme for young children because it is based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear which many of them can recite by heart.  It also uses simple shapes (die cuts) and bright colors.
Kay at Storytime ABC's is hosting this week's Flannel Friday round-up.  If you are looking for new ideas, check it out!

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