Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

It has been a long time since I last blogged! Feeling inspired by Abby the Librarian's blog post, I decided to confess my blogging sins rather than continuing to feel guilty about it. Here are five of the things that are keeping me away from this blog:

Our updated summer reading game!
We had a Paw Patrol program! We expected 75 in
attendance and ended up with 175. It was chaos.

1. We are short staffed. We're all just trying to keep our heads above water after losing a professional position last year, being without a manager for six months, and having another professional position leave in May. Luckily our new manager started in February and the second professional position will be getting replaced after summer.

2. It is Summer Reading. We are taking a less intensive approach this year, but the sheer volume of people in the room make it impossible to accomplish any extra tasks.

A baby boy!

3. I am 9 months pregnant. If you decide to start a family at any point in your career, I recommend trying to plan it so your 8-9 months don't happen during summer for both your and your coworkers' sanity. I literally pep talk myself out of the car most mornings and my 5pm self leaves out candy for my next day 8:30am self. Candy helps.

A fabulous summer reading performer who showed up with the flu.
It was the most intense hour as I waited to see if he would actually vomit on kids.
Do you have a plan for if your performer starts puking?
4. Program attendance is at an all time high! This is so great for us and our library, but it has made us have to rethink our approach to programming for such huge numbers. Hopefully next year we will figure out a way to make programs more manageable with such big groups, while making sure we provide the best service possible to our non-camp groups.

My storytimes help get me through the day!

5. My desk time has almost doubled in the past couple of months. A necessary thing that takes place in the summer, but it's hitting a little harder this year for all of the reasons above.
    These are all my excuses for not getting regularly scheduled posts to you. Hopefully once I am recovering on maternity leave I will be able to finally pay attention to those posts that have been languishing in drafts.

    Like Abby, I'm also going to recommend that you check out Bryce's series of Summer Reading Hype Videos. I watch them regularly when I feel like I can't possibly make it another hour in the day. I hope everyone is surviving this summer and I can't wait to hear all about everyone else's fun summer adventures!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Library Sneakers- Kindergarten Tour at the Library!

Do you have kindergarten classes visit your library? When I first came to La Crosse a specialized 2nd grade tour was already in place. You can read all about them on Bryce's blog. It was developmentally perfect for 2nd graders, and it really helped build our relationship with each individual school and their library media specialist.

After helping with 2nd grade tours when I first joined the team, we realized that adding Kindergarten to the mix was the next step in solidifying our relationship with the schools. Plus, this way we get to see a child at least two times during their first three years of school!

First, we contacted each school and asked for their school roster. This allows us to look up each child, see if they have a card, waive any fines, and send home a library card application if they need a card. Our goal is that every kindergartner will have an opportunity to get a card they can actually use by the time they leave our tour. Of course, this doesn't always work if caregivers don't sign the form or bring it back.

For scheduling the tour, we send out a mass email to each library media specialist and ask them to respond with 3 dates and times that work in the month of January or February. Since all of the second grade classes visit during this time too, we scale our programming way back during these two months to accommodate all of our tour friends.

When the kindergarten class comes, we gather in our programming space and talk about what the library does and what it means to be a library sneaker. We emphasize that ONLY kindergartners in La Crosse get to call themselves library sneakers and that it is a very special honor. We also share the "prizes" they get for returning to the library.

If they return one time and say they're a library sneaker at our service desk, then they get a very special Library Sneaker tote bag. Again, ONLY kindergartners in La Crosse get this tote bag. If they return a second time and say they're a library sneaker then they get their very own Pete the Cat bookmark. This is a perfect transition into us reading our very favorite book Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Kindergartners are usually shrieking with excitement at this point.

After reading Pete the Cat we break into our three groups for the next section of the tour. Each group gets to do all three parts, and we rotate every 7-9 minutes. One group gets a room tour, one gets a super secret tour, and one gets to hear another favorite book.

The room tour is fun because it's a chance for us to show them where they can find books best suited to their tastes in the room. It's also a chance for us to talk about the library desk and how we love to help people find good books and movies. We simply look for a certain shoe and sing "I love my ____ shoe" as we dance over to the right section. The librarian in charge of this tour is always the head dancer or head sneaker depending on their preference.

The super secret background tour is well loved by everyone because the kids get to see how a book drop works, and we tell them that everything they see is secret. ONLY kindergartners in La Crosse get to go on the super secret tour. Really it's just a quick walk through circulation and talking about how our process works, and then it's time to switch spots again.

For the additional story, we started using The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. I know some people have had storytime misses with this one, but our groups love it. I start by explaining that I've never read the book before but Miss (whoever else is doing part of the tour) said that I would really like it, so I thought we would try it. I act really surprised of course during all the ridiculousness, and I also follow my fingeralong the words as I read them. This has really helped the kindergartners make the connection that I have "no control" over what I'm saying. Plus, they're learning all about that print awareness!

Out of everything we do, The Book With No Pictures is the thing the kids remember when they come back to visit us. Their caregivers have heard all about it, and they have to read it or even go out and buy a copy themselves.

For my librarian friends who like stats- this is what our current year looked like: 53 students already had a library card. 429 students did not have a library card at all. They were all sent home a library form, and 260 of them returned it. That's 60% of students that now have a brand new library card!!! 45 students had fines on their card. 21 of them were over $10, which means their card has been blocked. For these cases a personalized letter was sent home from our circulation manager explaining the situation and inviting the family to visit the library and speak with her so they could work something out. The other 24 students had fines under $10 and we just waived them completely. Last year we saw over a 30% return visit from our kindergarten friends.

So, if you don't give specialized tours then please consider it. If you have any questions, want to read the scripts we use, or just want to pick my brain then contact me!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

UW-Whitewater's Early Childhood Conference: April 8-9, 2016

Hello all! Hopefully I will return to my regularly scheduled blogging soon. I have quite a few drafts that are just waiting for some much needed attention.

If you live in the Wisconsin/Illinois area I wanted to put a conference on your radar. It's a conference dedicated to Early Childhood! It's primarily day care providers who attend this conference, but I went last year and it was amazing.

Registration isn't outrageous, and there are some great sessions being offered. You can check out all of the different sessions here, and even find mine. I'll be talking all about programming with babies and toddlers in childcare and library settings. I hope to see some of you there!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Babies Need Words Every Day- The Blog Tour!

I'm excited to share the schedule for the amazing Babies Need Words Every Day blog tour! Some amazing ladies are going to be blogging about Babies Need Words Every Day, an ALSC initiative focused on bridging the 30 Million Word Gap, by providing caregivers with proven ways to build their children's literacy skills.

The initiative includes eight beautiful posters that share simple rhymes and tips for caregivers to read. There's even a booklist that shares some great books to check out at the library. The best part is that everything is FREE! You can print out as many posters and booklists as you want, and hang them everywhere. Check out the link here to get started.

I'll be updating this schedule daily to include the newest posts!

Show Me Librarian

Storytime Secrets
Storytime Katie

Abby the Librarian
Miss Meg's Storytime

Fat Girl Reading
Bryce Don't Play
Read Sing Play

Storytime Underground

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Early Literacy Center - A Monster Who Loves Cookies!

To go along with our newest bakery theme in our Play & Learn area, we wanted to make a fun tactile experience for little ones. After scouring the web and Pinterest, we realized that Cookie Monster was the obvious choice.

The La Crosse Public Library has been fortunate enough to receive a grant through DPI and Americorp. The grant provides the library with two workers who focus on early literacy and community building for a full year. This grant has been amazing and I'll give all the details in a later post. I'm mentioning it now because they did the work on this Play & Read theme and deserve the credit. 

For this project we re-purposed our plastic mailbox that we've used previously in our Early Literacy Center, and simply added a few decorations. The mailbox just so happened to be the perfect shade of blue!

We made laminated card stock cookies and turned our wall activity into both a color identification game and sorting activity.

In various places on the wall we included prompts for the caregivers and children to interact with Cookie Monster.

Of course, we also included an early literacy tip for caregivers. Explaining why these simple activities matter plays such an important part in early literacy awareness.

Best of all, this activity was free! We re-purposed everything from earlier Play & Learn activities, so the only new thing we needed to add was the construction paper on the mailbox and the fun cookies. 


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