Life Lately at the Library: Summer/Fall 2015

Life Lately at the Library

To the surprise of no one, I have fallen off of the blogging bandwagon yet again. As much as I love blogging, I just don’t have much time for it at work, and I am trying very, very hard to keep work related things at work and not do them at home. Which is why my last post on this blog was way back in August, and my last Life Lately at the Library post (which was originally supposed to be a monthly thing) was back in May. Oops!!!

I really hope that I’ll get to blog more in 2016, but I’m not going to make any promises. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to the past couple of months:

–> Guerrilla Storytime and Minecraft Masters Presentation

I facilitated two presentations at local conferences within the past couple of months. The first one was a guerrilla storytime at my library’s Library Camp. The second one was a Minecraft Masters presentation at another local conference that was hosted at my library. These were both very small conferences/groups (nothing like presenting at ALSC or ALA or some other big conference), but they were super fun, and it was great to gain some conference presentation experience!

–> Summer Reading Committee

At my first job in Texas, I was at a smaller library and was in charge of planning summer reading every year. At my current library, we put together a committee to do all the planning, and everyone who’s not on the committee more or less sits back and let’s them do their thing until summer reading starts. This is my first time being on the SRP committee at my library and it’s been…fun? Kinda? I mean, there’s definitely more work and stress than if I wasn’t on the committee, but it’s been fun to work with various coworkers from other branches. We’re just now entering our busy period of this process, but I’ve been told that by February we’ll be coasting, so we’ll see…

–> Fright Night

One of the cool things about working at the Main Library in my library system is that we get to tie in programming with some big, downtown initiatives. In October, I was in charge of planning a Halloween craft program that tied in with the town’s annual Fright Night. Fright Night is a huge event in my town, and it features a zombie walk that draws in thousands of zombies people. The craft program I hosted was 4 hours long and had an attendance of over 700 people! It. Was. Crazy! But also fun. Lots and lots of fun!

–> Mazza Conference

Last month, I attended one of my most favorite conferences ever: the Mazza Weekend Conference. I firmly believe that this conference is one of the best kept secrets in the world of children’s literature conferences. The Mazza Museum, located on the University of Findlay’s campus in Findlay, OH, hosts a summer conference in July, and a weekend (more like Friday night/Satuday morning and afternoon) conference in November. I’ve attended the Weekend Conference for two years now, and I think I’m just going to go ahead and make it a tradition because I love it so much. This year’s conference featured great illustrators, including (but not limited to) Molly Idle and Henry Cole. It was amazing! I fully expect to see you all there next year.


I am once again a book apps judge for the CYBILS Awards! But this time I’m a round 2 judge, so my work hasn’t started yet. I’ll (hopefully) keep you all posted on my CYBILS work in January.

Life Lately at the Library: Spring 2015

Spring 2015
When I first started Life Lately at the Library, I really hoped that I’d be able to post every month.  Clearly, I have fallen off track, so while I plan to continue with this blog series, it might have to be a seasonal thing.

So here’s what I’ve been up to this past spring:

1) Spring Preschool Puppet Show

I once again participated in my library’s annual Preschool Puppet Show, and it was so much fun!  And a lot of work.  But mostly fun!  Preschools, day cares, and families from all over the area flocked to the library to see our show.  We did 9 (NINE!) performances over four days for close to 1,400 people.  By the end of the week, I was exhausted with a capital E.  But it was also very, very rewarding, and one of the things that I’m most proud of.  Since I embedded the video of last year’s show on the blog, here’s the video for this year’s (I don’t expect anyone to actually watch it):

2) Building STEAM with Día

Several months ago, I was awarded the Building STEAM with Día mini-grant. During the months of March and April, I implemented programming for this grant. Our target audience was at risk children, particularly those who are reticent to attend our usual library programs. Therefore, we focused on offering weekly passive and pop-up programming.  Here are some of the things that I did/offered:

Table Top STEAM:  This was an all day, passive program that I offered every weekend.  Each week, I would put out a different STEAM activity on the tables that are in front of our Computer Lab.  Activities included: Build a Tower Out of Index Cards, Dig for Dinosaur Bones, Construct a Minecraft Creeper.

Early Learning Center Pop-Up Activities:  We have a 2200 sq ft Early Learning Center in my department, and it’s an amazing room for children and their grown-ups to learn together and play together.  I’ve been trying to offer programming in this room for ages, but it’s tricky to do because sometimes the room is too full for programming and sometimes the room is…empty.  By offering pop-up programming, I was able to go in whenever it was most convenient and do some simple STEAM activities with the young-uns and their parents. We did things such as Sink or Float, Color Mixing, and Cubelets! (Psst, I highly recommend Cubelets!)

Book Giveaways: One of the greatest things about this grant is that, along with programming, it allows you to earmark money for book giveaways. What’s better than getting FREE books into the hands of children who really need it?

Bells and Whistles: While the majority of our programming for this grant was passive or pop-up, we also tried to entice children into our traditional programming by offering some shiny bells and whistles.  For example, we brought the 3D printer into the Children’s Department to get kids interested in our 3D printing program. (And one day, 5 boys ranging in age from about 6 to 14 spent a good 30 minutes just standing in front of and staring at the printer.) We also bought microscopes for our already established STEAM program: Science Explorers.

The programming for this grant is finished now.  It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work — that must be the theme for my Spring), and it was a big success.  Here’s a photo:

Index Card Tower Edit
3) Free Comic Book Day @ the Library!

Last Saturday, we offered an exceptionally well-received Free Comic Book Day @ the Library program.  It was a hoot, let me tell ya.  I wasn’t the mastermind behind this one — two of my awesome coworkers dreamed up and implemented this, but I did get to help out at many of the activities including: Super Hero Storytime, Costume Factory (capes! masks! wristbands!), and Super Hero Training.  Super heroes also visited the library and we, of course, offered free comic books all day long.  Here’s a picture of some super heroes reading (photo belongs to Allen County Public Library):


Life Lately at the Library: February 2015

Life Lately FebruaryI can’t believe that we’re almost done with March, and I’m just now getting to my February recap.  Wait.  No.  I can believe it.  Still, at least I’m not posting this in April, right?  February was quieter month, and while I do have a few things to share about last month, I do not have pictures this time around.  Sorry!  I’ll try to do better with the whole taking pictures thing.  Anywho, here’s what’s been happening:

1) Juvenile Deposit Collection (JDC)

Three times per year, my fellow librarians and I pack up a bunch of books, grab some storytime stuff, and hop into the library’s van to visit local daycares and preschools.  We give each daycare/preschool provider boxes of books that they can keep until our next visit.   We also perform a storytime at each daycare/preschool while we’re there dropping off books.  For our winter JDC visits that took place in late January and early February, we checked out 3500 books to give to daycares and preschools!  This is a GREAT service that we offer, and I love it!  Although I will admit that our winter visits can be challenging due to winter weather.  Remember that blizzard that hit ALA Midwinter?  Yeah.  I was out the very next day to deliver books in nine inches of snow!  It kind of made me feel like a super hero.  (Although I do want to point out that the roads weren’t terrible that day…my coworkers and I do have permission to reschedule if roads are unsafe.)

2) Biggest Tour Ever!

We had the biggest tour ever during the month of February!  150 kids with 70 adults visited Children’s Services to hear stories, get library cards, and check out books.  It was fun chaos that took more than 3 librarians, myself included, to keep under control.  Still, the kids (and adults  (and librarians!)) had lots of fun!

3) Lots of Planning

A few months ago, I was awarded the Building STEAM with Dia grant.  While I’ve been planning programming for this grant for months, February was the month in which I was dotting i’s and crossing t’s for a lot of the grant implementation.  I worked with a local t-shirt printing company to have some t-shirts made for promotion.  I ordered a lot of books to give away and add to the collection.  And, of course, I ordered a lot of fun STEAM things for passive and pop-up STEAM programs that we’re offering this month and next month as part of the grant.  Stay tuned to hear more!

And that, sadly, is about it.  I did do a couple of other programs during the month (including Toddler Art, which I should really get back to posting about), and there were a lot of other tasks that I complete on a semi-regularly basis.  But I think I’ll talk about those things another day.

Life Lately at the Library: January 2015

Life Lately January 2015I realized the other day that anyone who reads this blog probably thinks that all I do at my job is Toddler Art and Storytime and read picture books.  Which, yes, is a big part of my job.  But I actually do a wide variety of other things too.  These other things may not deserve their own blog posts, or maybe they do and I’m just too busy to get around to it.  Either way, I still want to share what I’m up to each month, which is why I’m starting a new blog series:  Life Lately at the Library.

Where’s what I was up to in January:

Frozen Party 1

1) Frozen Sing-a-long

Okay, this program actually happened at the very end of December, but it was close enough to January 1st that I feel comfortable adding it to January’s LLatL.  One of my coworkers was the mastermind behind this program, but I was there to help out for the afternoon and evening showings.  The program itself was really simple:  we showed the sing-a-long version of Frozen in the library’s theater and allowed the kids to come up on stage and sing along with the songs.  We also had a photo op area for families to take their pictures with cardboard cutouts of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf.  Overall, the program was a big hit (we had over 100 people attend each of our three showings), though I got so sick of Frozen, that I don’t know when I can actually watch it again.  I was also sick with a cold that day.  But as a very wise person on Twitter mentioned, my cold didn’t bother me anyway. 😉

Media Tie-Ins

2) Categorizing the Media Tie-Ins

I’m in charge of my branch’s media tie-in books.  These are the books that are based off of movies or TV shows (think Dora, Disney, Star Wars, etc.).  We have a special area set aside for these books, and we put orange stickers on their spines.  This collection is very popular — so much so that it’s impossible to keep them in shelf order.  So in January I started categorizing these books by TV Channel and/or Movie Production Company.  To do this, I placed smaller stickers within the orange stickers.  So now the Disney books have blue dots within their orange dot.  And the Dreamworks books have green dots within their orange dots.  And Nickelodeon books have yellow dots, etc.  It’s still impossible to keep them in shelf order, but now it’s a little easier to find books, because you only need to flip through a certain color of dots.

3D Printing

3)  Minecraft and 3D Printing

I was going to talk about how awesome the Minecraft and 3D Printing programs are, but then I decided that this really does require its own post.  So for right now I’ll just say that Minecraft is a weekly program that I do along with a coworker.  Minecraft’s popularity is huge, and I had to turn kids away several times in January due to not having enough computers.  3D Printing is also very popular these days.  I offered two classes in January and had over 30 kids attend!  Woo hoo!


4)  Mock Caldecott and Newbery Awards

I am super, super fortunate that my library offers a Mock Caldecott and Mock Newbery each January.  Last year I just did the Mock Newbery, but this year I did both.  And it was so much fun!  Colleagues from all over the state came together to discuss the year’s best books and to vote on our favorites.  And we were eerily close to guessing the actual winners this year.  Click here to see the results of our Newbery election.  And click here to see the results of our Caldecott election.  And ten points to the Hogwarts house of your choice if you can spot me in the pictures!


5)  Day of Diversity Forum @ ALA Midwinter

A few months ago, I was awarded a Building STEAM with Dia mini grant (more on that in the coming months).  Because of this, I was invited to attend the Day of Diversity Forum at ALA Midwinter.  And.  WHOA!  It was, by far, one of the best events that I have ever attended!  I’ve already written about it here, so I won’t say any more about it on this post other than Chicago is a beautiful city.