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Well, it's out now... [Aug. 4th, 2006|11:03 pm]
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So I guess I can post about it...

We discovered that one of the prizes we were giving out for the summer reading program contained lead. As soon as MCPL found out that there might be a possibility of lead in the toys, we pulled them and handed out different toys for that prize. They have now tested positive for lead and are being recalled.

Patrons who received the toys as a prize may bring them back to the library and exchange them for a different prize. The library will dispose of the toys that contain lead. I'm not sure yet how they will be disposed, but we've been in contact with the state health department.

Out with a bang, I guess... This was just released to the press today and Sunday is my last shift as an MCPL intern. It's really too bad that this happened, but we're trying to deal with it as best we can.
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Baby program! [Aug. 3rd, 2006|10:46 am]
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[mood |happyhappy]

I went in yesterday and observed Amanda's Lap Babies program. I hadn't seen a baby program all summer and I wanted to at least observe one before the summer is over. I guess I thought baby programs would be intimidating, maybe because I've never done one and maybe because I don't have much experience with babies. But it actually looked like something I could do. ;)

Mary designed the baby programs that we have and she used to do all of them, but recently they've been divided up for a couple other librarians to do, too. This way Mary doesn't have to do it every week. Parents can sign up for a 4-month cycle and each age group meets once a month. The first Wednesday of the month is babies 12 mo. and under. The second Wednesday is "walkers", babies ages 12-14 mo. The third Wednesday is "Tuneful Twos". And the last Wednesday is Extravaganza.

Amanda was doing a baby program, so 12 mo. and under. The important thing to remember, I think, is that babies are on their own schedule and doing their own thing. You can't make them sit still or not cry and you need to make the parents feel okay with that. You need to be flexible and work around the babies. The activities Mary picked out go along with the babies' developmental age and involve stuff that will help the babies develop and grow and learn.

The program lasted from 10-10:45 (and usually they would have a second session from 11-11:45, but they don't do that in August). For the first 15 minutes, they had circle time. Amanda rolled a big fluffy ball to each of the babies in turn, while singing a song that welcomed each of them. They had nametages with the mom's name and the baby's name, so she said each of the babies' names in the song. Then she did some other songs and rhymes with them. The parents held the babies on their laps and did whatever motions- picking the babies up, bouncing them, etc. Then Amanda shared Eric Carle's From Head to Toe, which is a great action book for toddlers and she modified it so that it would work with babies. The parents could touch each part (head, shoulder, chest, etc.) as they said that part.

After circle time was over, Amanda put on some music and brought out some toys and the kids had about half an hour to play with each other. It was nice for the moms, too, because they could sit around and talk to each other while their babies played. It was actually really nice to watch because everyone was sitting in a circle and they would corrall any babies who crawled away too far. :)

I think it's a great idea to have programs for babies and little little kids because it gets the parents into the library. It gets the kids some exposure to programs and to books and song and it gives the parents some ideas for playing with their babies at home. Also, it seemed like it was a nice chance for the moms to get together and get to know each other and just relax and talk to other moms for a bit.
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Carnival [Aug. 1st, 2006|11:19 pm]
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[mood |tiredtired]

Well, the children's department had its annual Library Carnival tonight to wrap up the summer programming. It went really well, although I know it was probably a pain to plan an implement. By the time I got there at 6, Mary and Ellen had set up all the booths and decorated everything. They got ice cream from Chocolate Moose and we had lots of booths set up around the room where kids could play carnival games and win prizes. The prizes were leftover summer reading prizes from past years. We also had face painting as kids came in the door.

The games we had included a bowling game, a fishing game, a toss-the-ball-in-the-can game, a "mystery box" where kids had to identify an object by feeling it, a penny target drop, tic-tac-toe, and ring toss. I was in charge of the ring toss.

The carnival lasted from 6:30 to 8:00 and we had over 200 people come. It was a drop-in program and you didn't have to participate in the SRP to come. I think it was a great way to wrap up the summer and I know it's a relief for the librarians to be done with summer programming.

We had a ton of volunteers to help, including a bunch of our teen volunteers and a church group. Running the program was not too hard because everyone had a station and I think the volunteers had fun with it. We had some people handing out ice cream tickets and bags for kids to keep their prizes in. We had some people scooping ice cream and delivering it to the ice cream table. And the rest of the volunteers were running booths. It was really nice to have all those volunteers at the end of the program because we were able to break down the room and get it all set up fairly easily.

I never guessed that a big chunk of my time as a librarian would be spent moving tables and chairs around. ;)
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Photo Memories [Jul. 31st, 2006|11:49 pm]
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[mood |exhaustedexhausted]

I helped Mary with the Photo Memories program today. It's a summer tradition that they've done for the past six years or so. Kids come in (with or without parents) and they bring some photos and we gave them a scrapbook page and lots of colorful cut-out paper and stuff and they go to town. It was an intensive setup, getting all the supplies ready and the tables and chairs in place, but once the families came in and got started, it really ran itself. Of course, we also had five great volunteers who helped out a lot. Volunteers are great for craft programs because they will do stuff like cut out paper or hand out stickers.

We had about 40 people at the program and it was preregistered because we gave them art supplies. I pulled a bunch of books about scrapbooking and other paper crafts and a bunch of them got checked out, which made me happy. :)

One cool thing is that I asked Mary if scrapbooking is a hobby of hers and she told me that no, it wasn't. But the program was still really fun for everyone and it went really well. So it just goes to show you that you don't have to be a crafts expert to do a successful craft program. And a lot of the families that came today had come many times before, so it really was part of a summer tradition for them.

Tomorrow night is the Library Carnival, so I'm looking forward to that! And I think it kind of wraps up our summer programs. The SRP will be going on until August 20. And I will be all done with my internship hours by next Sunday.
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Article #9 [Jul. 28th, 2006|09:39 am]
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Riemenschneider, B. (2006). Columbus Metropolitan Library's Fresh Start Campaign. Public Libraries, 45(2), 50-53.

This article discussed the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML)'s Fresh Start Campaign. The campaign was designed to help get kids' cards unblocked by having them read off their fines. It was discovered that almost half of kids under 18 had blocked cards due to fines. In the past the CML had held read-off days where patrons could come in for supervised reading to unblock their cards. This campaign was designed to last several months and give patrons an opportunity to read at home and unblock their cards. Another goal of the campaign was to educate users about good borrower behavior- how to keep your cards fine-free.

Each child who wanted to participate was given a "Read-Off" Agreement form. This specified how much money the child aimed to read off. The rates for reading were $2.00 for every 15 minutes of reading time. Children kept track of their reading time on their forms and a responsible adult signed off on the forms. The campaign was advertised by sending out postcards to all juvenile patrons with blocked cards. The postcards were addressed to the parents or guardians and encouraged them to come in and exchange the postcard for a read-off agreement. If patrons did not bring in their cards, a blank postcard was filled out for them in order to keep track of how effective the postcard mailings were. In addition to the postcards, posters were placed in CML locations advertising the effort.

Some staff concerns were that it was rewarding bad behavior by letting people read-off their fines and that it might associate reading with work or punishment. MCPL was considering doing a read-off campaign when I first started in the summer and these were some of the concerns voiced by our staff as well. I don't know what was decided about doing a read-off at MCPL, but it may have been put on hold for the summer.

In addition to the read-off, efforts were made to educate young patrons and new borrowers about good borrower behavior. CML handed out plastic book bags to young patrons that were printed with 5 tips about how to keep your card free of fines. The campaign task force also partnered with the communications department to create a video to show to preschoolers and elementary school students. The video educated them on how to use their library card and how to handle materials.

The campaign helped 6 percent of children ages 0-11 unblock their cards. It did not have as much of an impact on young adult (12-18) patrons. One encouraging fact is that when they checked the cards of patrons who had completed the read-off, they found that more than half still had unblocked cards five months later. The article also includes a guideline for how to start your own read-off campaign at your library.

I think it's a very interesting idea to have a read-off campaign. Much of the time, it's not a kid's fault if they have fines on their cards. Adults will check out materials on their children's cards and children don't always have a way to get to the library to make sure their books are returned on time. So I think it's a good idea to have some way for kids to work off the money on their cards. I do think it's a valid concern that reading might be associated with work, but I think it can be spun as an opportunity instead of a chore. I wonder if it might have been more effective if they had some kind of reward at the end of the campaign. Providing prizes might defeat the purpose of the campaign and undermine the message, but maybe they could have had a party for all the kids who unblocked their cards or something like that. It might be tricky with kids from so many different age groups, but I think if it had increased completion of the program it might have been worth it.
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Article #8 [Jul. 28th, 2006|09:12 am]
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Ernst, S. & McCourt, S. (2004). If children can't go out into the world, bring the world to them through children's books. Bookbird, 42(3), 19-27.

This article describes the efforts of first-grade teachers to expand their students' horizons by incorporating multicultural books and activities in the classroom. Although it discusses classroom activities, I think it provides suggestions for library programming as well. The teachers made a commitment to increase their children's knowledge of the world. They were supported in this goal by their principal who made a statement saying that children need to be educated about the world and that children in other countries often know more about the world than American children do.

The school is located in a rural area of Connecticut where there are not many people from other countries and many children don't get the opportunity to travel. The teachers started by amassing a collection of multicultural books to use in the classroom for activities and for free reading time. They focused their collection on contemporary and historical realistic fiction. They also included poetry. The teachers involved their students in a lot of map activities. When they read books, children would find the setting on a world map and the teachers provided several laminated maps for them to use. During the year one of the students went to Japan and his father emailed the classroom with details about their trip so that the students could plot their travels on a map.

By the end of the year, the students had an advanced grasp on the countries of the world. Parents were surveyed and many agreed that their children showed an increased world knowledge.

I think this idea could transfer over to libraries for programming ideas. It would be fun to have a multicultural storytime and bring in a map so kids could see what area of the world the stories are from. You could also incorporate multicultural crafts. The article provides an annotated book list of some multicultural titles.

One thing that I feel they did not address was the issue of having a balanced collection. They did mention that they tended to stay away from "traditional tales" because they "gave an unrealistic and incomplete view of the countries from which they came" (Ernst & McCourt, 2004). I'm not a teacher, so maybe I am overestimating the ability of these students, but I think that it's important to incorporate traditional tales. The issue that they didn't address was representing all aspects of a culture. I'm taking a seminar on multicultural literature and one thing we discussed was that having picture books that only depict a culture one way, that perpetuates stereotypes. For example, if all your picture books of African show rural settings with women carrying baskets on their heads, etc., children might not realize that Africans don't all live in rural settings. Another example is having books that only represent one group within a culture, for example one Native American tribe instead of respecting that there are diverse groups within the Native American culture.

That said, I think the bibliography provided might prove to be a good tool to use and I look forward to checking out many of the books listed!
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Ping pong balls and Extravaganza [Jul. 28th, 2006|07:37 am]
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[mood |busy]

Well, Tuesday we had the Amazing Gnip Gnop Circus come to the library. It was nearly a full house for the event and I think our library and Elletsville were the only libraries on their tour this summer. It was a pretty cool show and the kids seemed to really like it. They are a puppetry team and they use ping pong balls as their puppets.

They have a little stage with a blacklight and we turn out all the lights so you can't see the puppeteers (who are dressed in black). The ping pong balls put on a circus, complete with a tightrope walker, a high-diver, and "the raaar" (lion-taming). I thought some parts of it were a little weird, but the concept was cool and some of the visuals with the blacklight were pretty cool.

Then on Wednesday we had Extravanganza (my last one of the summer!). The theme this month was frogs. We sang some songs about frogs, Patty told a Frog and Toad story, Mary told a story about the bullfrog jumping from bank to bank (her story had a song with it and it was very cool). And we showed a couple of films- "It's Mine" by Leo Lionni and "A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog" by Mercer Mayer. I really enjoyed the stories. I jump at every chance I can to hear Mary and Patty tell stories.
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Wonder Lab! [Jul. 22nd, 2006|02:41 pm]
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[mood |busy]

We had Wonderlab come to the library yesterday to put on a program. They have some traveling exhibits and they brought them in to the meeting rooms yesterday and stayed for three hours so kids could drop in and try out the experiements.

They had several different stations set up around the room, with a different experiment at each station. We had several library volunteers and Wonderlab brought several volunteers of their own. The stations were:
1) a balance beam where it was demonstrated that walking across while holding a long pole helped you balance
2) a tug-of-war station where kids could learn about pulleys
3) a make-your-own-gloop station where kids made "gloop" from glue, water, food coloring, and borax (a very easy, if messy, craft that the kids really enjoyed)
4) a paper noisemaker making station where kids made a noisemaker out of newspaper (not sure what the science behind this was since the volunteer didn't offer any explanations, at least not while I was standing there)
5) a see-through-your-hand station where kids could decorate a cardboard paper towl tube and then use it to "look through" their hands
6) a smash-a-marshmallow station where the Wonderlab coordinator froze marshmallows in liquid nitrogen and then had kids smash them with a hammer

It was all very fun. We had 100 people in the first hour and then it tapered off quite a bit. We probably should have only had them come for two hours. After about two hours, I went out to help the desk since we had so many volunteers and it wasn't that busy.

This kind of program is a good example of partnerships with the community. Wonderlab is a children's science museum here in Bloomington and we tied it into reading and learning by putting up a big display of children's science experiment books. Other organizations we've partnered with have been the Monroe County Humane Association (they've brought in birds, snakes, and "furry friends") and Bloomington Parks and Recreation (they partner with the library for the Dr. Seuss event in the spring). I'm sure there are probably more, but those are the ones that come to mind right away.

We also have kind of a partnership with some of the camps and daycares in the area. We get a lot of camps coming in during the summer and many daycares come to our Extravaganzas at the end of the month. I wonder if more could be done to partner with these camps. Maybe we could set up some kind of special events for them or pull some books they might be interested in... We did have a bunch of the camp kids interested in the summer reading program earlier in the summer, but it seems like that interest has petered out. I guess it would be hard to set up a partnership with these camps because we're so busy already during the summer, just with our normal summer programming schedule and the SRP and everything. Maybe if it was in a smaller community or if it was a slower branch library it would be possible to do a partnership like that. I just wish we could have more stuff for the kids to do because they seem to spend nearly the whole time on the computers and lately they've started acting up.
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Article #7 [Jul. 22nd, 2006|02:25 pm]
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Dickey, J. & Jones, P. (1994). Finding a good book: Skills and tools for helping students. Book Report, 13(1), 15-21.

This article discusses readers advisory for children. Many of the techniques Dickey & Jones present are the same or similar to the techniques I'm learning about in my adult readers' advisory class. When a student comes up to the desk to ask for a book recommendation, a good way to start the transaction is to ask the child what book they have read recently that they really liked. Then ask them what they liked about it in order to figure out what the appeal characteristics are. Then you can try and find a book that matches those appeal characteristics. Another good question to ask is what they didn't like about the book. That's a good way to narrow down your choices.

The authors also suggested keeping lists of "sure-fire" bets- books that seem to be popular with almost everyone. They also suggested using published lists, such as YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults. Compiling your own lists is also a good way to keep track of books about popular topics or popular genres. MCPL has a number of great book lists. Making these lists available to patrons, either as hand-outs in the library or by posting them on the web is a great way to promote "indirect readers' advisory". That means readers' advisory without an actual face-to-face interview.

As far as indirect readers' advisory, the authors also suggested posting peer and professional reviews, making book catalogs available to patrons, and making book displays to promote books or genres. Then the article listed a lot of popular readers' advisory tools. Some of these tools were pretty dated, since the article was from 1994, but the basic principle is the same. I think a lot of children's librarians tend to rely on their own personal knowledge and the knowledge of their staff instead of consulting tools. I think that's a fine way of doing it, but that librarians should not hesitate to use resources to help them find appeal characteristics and think of new books to share.

I think readers' advisory can be an important part of a librarian's job and it can be very rewarding. It can also be kind of nerve-wracking because you're put on the spot and sometimes people expect you to recommend something very quickly while they're standing there. Another problem I've faced on desk is getting a parent looking for books for her child. It's fine for them to do that, but I think it makes it a little harder to find books that the child will actually like since the child's not there to give her opinion. And sometimes if parents come up with their children to ask for book recommendations, the child might feel pressured to accept the suggestions offered or they might not get into the kind of book they really want.
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Wrapped up... [Jul. 19th, 2006|07:06 pm]
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[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Well, we wrapped up our Young Writers' Workshop for K-3rd grade this morning. I think it went really well. We definitely noticed a drop-off in attendance this week, but the kids who kept coming worked hard, especially the older ones. For the younger ones, we spent a lot of time telling them how to spell things. We did a session about journalism and getting published today and then the kids took their folders home at the end. They did each have a nice, full folder to show mom and dad. :) We also had them select their favorite piece so we can copy them and make a book for the kids to pick up next week. And we had them re-copy their "The Best Part of Me" piece so we can display them along with the photos we took last week.

Later in the afternoon, we had a couple of camps come in which was kind of stressful. Of course they all went straight for the computers and all the computers filled up. And then we have kids claiming they lost their pass and wanting a new one or needing us six times to help with the printers... They're good kids, they really are, but it's a handful whenever they come in because they need a lot of help with everything. Or maybe it's just because there are 15 of them all needing help at once...

Luckily, I was only there for about half an hour before my shift was up and I got to go home. :)

Friday is Wonder Lab! Color me excited!
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